Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gluten free? What is that?!

Welcome to Gluten Free QC, the blog that offers local restaurant gluten free menu reviews, product reviews and occasionally a really good gluten free recipe. This is a blog by a person who suffers from Gluten Intolerance all things that are not sourced on this blog are my opinion or have been tried and tested by me. I do not claim to be a professional reviewer or a medical professional. I am neither of those, I am a normal person who works a full time job, has a husband and child who are not required to eat gluten free. I am surrounded by friends and family who make great efforts to ensure I have food to eat at all events that is safe for me. I love all of them for making those efforts because no small effort goes unnoticed, that being said I want to make sure others who suffer can go into a restaurant and order from a menu that is said to be gluten free and not run into any issues.

Feel free to leave question or comments or send me an email with your story. Please be kind an courteous to others and any vulgar or inappropriate comments will be removed from the blog.

Many people do not know what it means to be gluten free. Gluten free is one of the hardest diets to follow. Most people do not follow this diet because they want to lose weight, they follow this diet because they are medically required. Some people do follow it because it is healthier, but does not by any means help you lose weight.

Wikipedia offers this description: Gluten free diet is diet completely free of ingredients derived from gluten-containing cereals: wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, Malts, and triticale, as well as the use of gluten as a food additive in the form of flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent. It is the only medically accepted treatment for coeliac disease, the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy.

Oats are generally eliminated as well due to high levels of cross contamination in the mills. Only certified Gluten Free Oats may be eaten.

Celiacs disease is a genetically linked disease with an environmental trigger. In people with CD, eating gluten causes an auto-immune response which causes damage to the small intestine. This damage causes the small intestine to lose the ability to absorb the nutrients in food, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other complications. This information was obtained from http://www.csaceliacs.org/ a website devoted to helping Celiacs find their way through this very difficult and demanding lifestyle.

Gluten Intolerance requires the same lifestyle changes as a Celiac, however our bodies have not caused permanent damage to our small intestines. This is what I personally suffer from in my life. I am not medically diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I am self diagnosed!

My Story

After 16 years of hundreds of tests and misdiagnosis I found out in 2009 gluten had to be the root of my problem. I started getting sick after every meal when I turned 13. I would get horrible stomach aches and severe diarrhea after every single meal. At 13 I went through multiple blood tests and a colonoscopy for the doctors to say they couldn't find anything wrong, maybe it was just nerves and I was low on fiber, so they put me on a high fiber diet including Metamucil. It did not help the problem. So I suffered for several more years and went many different kinds of doctors including a Chiropractor who put me on probiotics and a restrictive diet slowly adding things back into my diet, but we still could not nail down the problem. Finally a doctor when I was 15 decided to put me on a diet of nothing but Rice, plain Chicken breast and plain lightly salted rice cakes with peanut butter. I suffered through that diet of those 4 things and nothing more every meal for one full year, on my 16th birthday I couldn't take it anymore and begged my mom for real food again, she was tired of watching me suffer at such a young age and allowed me to go back to my normal diet. Within a day I was miserably sick again. I was extremely thin and miserable after every meal. I went to college when I was 18 and moved to Cedar Rapids. I decided to try to the U of I Hospitals internal medicine to see if they could find something wrong with my belly at this point it had been 5 years of hell, its amazing I did not develop an eating disorder to avoid eating. I went the U Of I and again underwent multiple tests and they put me on Levsin to slow my digestion and Loperamide (Imodium AD) to slow my bowel down and told me I had IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome). I continued to eat as normal, and started to gain weight due to my body being slowed down. I did not gain weight in the sense of becoming over weight but I was now at least 145lbs which was a big deal since I am 5'11" tall. I lived like that until I got pregnant with my son in 2004 and found that during my pregnancy I could eat whatever I wanted and not have any issues and since my medications were safe during pregnancy I kept taking them. As soon as I delivered my son I was right back with being sick after every single meal. I had an episode in 2009 which left me laying on my kitchen floor bawling with the worst stomach ache of my entire life. My 4 year old son sitting next to me offering to call 911 since I literally could not get up off the kitchen floor. My husband came home and took me to the ER where I was given stomach relaxers and a bunch more tests with the results all coming back normal. They scheduled me to see a gastroenterologist to have an UPPER GI. They stuck a scope down my throat while I was heavily sedated and took a biopsy of my duodenum. They told my husband they were going to test it for Celiacs. When I came out of my drug stupor my husband told me what they were testing me for and I started doing my own research. I could not believe that many of the symptoms were the exact same that I had been experiencing my entire adolescents. I was mad. I got a call a few days later from the Gastro telling me I tested negative for Celiacs and they wanted to take my gall bladder out. I asked why they would want to take it out since one of the many tests I had done since the ER was a test to show the gall bladder function and it was functioning normal. So I decided at this point no one was removing anything from my body and I was going to try the diet that I had found while researching Celiacs, The gluten free diet.

My husband was very supportive of the diet as long as he didn't have to follow it. He didn't care that most of the foods that were marketed for Gluten free were twice as high as normal gluten containing foods. I started it on July 1st, 2009. I felt better by July 4th and have not felt better in my life. I am no longer sick all the time. Have I been 100% committed to the diet, I wasn't in the beginning and I would slip up often because to go without all your favorite foods feels like torture. I went on a gluten binge in December 2009 and it led me to several days of misery in bed without begin able to function. I am now 100% committed to being gluten free with the food my body ingests. I try very hard to prevent cross contamination because now that its no longer put in my body I have severe reactions to it. The smallest bit causes a revolt in my entire body. The first stage of the revolt is a gut wrenching stomachache that starts within 10 minutes of gluten ingestion, it is usually bad enough I can not sit up right, I am required to "hunch" so it does not spasm so bad I can't move. The stomachache normally lasts about 6-8 hours. The second stage is severe diarrhea (TMI I know). Its foul and generally pure liquid that lasts several hours until everything in my system is gone. Once that subsides a migraine starts and lasts about 10-12 hours and during the migraine the rosacea and acne on my face becomes inflamed. It takes me several days to get back to my old self again. I have stomach relaxers to take if the pain is too much to handle, but most of the time they only make the detox process worse the next day because they relax all stomach functions. I do the best I can to make sure I have gluten free food on hand, if I plan ahead I have less temptation to just order food and make it work.

I was told when I first started this diet the easiest way to know if a food is safe: if had a mother or came from the ground it is safe, with the exceptions of wheat, oats and barley.

There are tons of blogs with recipes and information on this issue. This blog will mostly be used to share restaurant reviews and food reviews. I will review local gluten free menus to help my fellow suffers. I am offering a consultant service to local restaurants to help them have a true gluten free menu to offer to their customers. After finding several that weren't truly gluten free it's time someone stands up for those of us that suffer, I will be that helpful voice people can turn to when they don't know if its safe or contains gluten. I am not a doctor or involved in any health care field at all. I am a dispatcher. I am a person who suffers from gluten intolerance and I know I'm not alone in the suffering.

Here are some links to some of my favorite gluten free sites:

For Recipes I love:

For Education on gluten/celiacs:

Safe Foods/Products:

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