Am I Crazy?

I am not sure about a decision I have just made. I have decided to go gluten free to see if it makes a difference in my life. I have aches and pains that someone my age (in my estimation) should not have. My younger sister swears by her gluten-freeness. And since I think she knows a thing or two, I am going to give it a try—but not without a little bit of whining.

Okay, be prepared—here is my whining:

There is no one on this green earth who loves bread (the staff of life) more than I do. I love bread and all its incarnations. I love all the things that are derived from wheat flour. I am going to miss them. I tried some gluten-free bread today—and toasted it for a BLT—and it was not bad. I tried some gluten-free crackers, and they were not to my taste. Maybe I will get used to them.
I made my son a grilled cheese sandwich from some nice soft white bread (with fibre). It was so lovely and soft—I could imagine it slathered with butter and just melting in my mouth. I have never looked at sandwich bread with such envy before.

Why—you ask?
My legs feel like lead when I get up in the morning. I can barely bend my knees and I stump around for a while trying to get my legs to work. My sister says it may be inflammation caused by gluten and that she suffered the same way until she gave it up. She is helping me out with advice and recipes. Apparently there are levels of gluten intolerance—celiac disease being the worst and then several levels of sensitivity to it. I am almost hoping my experiment fails so I can eat bread—but if I get the bounce back in my step it will be worth it. Maybe I have just a slight sensitivity so I may be able to eat some bread—I guess only time will tell.

There are studies and then there are studies. Some of the latest say that we need a certain amount of gluten; others poo poo this as just another craze; and still others tout it as the best thing since (gluten free) sliced bread. So, obviously the jury is out.

Will I Survive?
I am not sure. If you have any words of encouragement I would appreciate it. Some of my Facebook friends have come through with good advice—but I could use more voices—and if you are a dissenting voice—that is okay too.

I am going to keep a diary of my progress. Two days so far—though I made a mistake yesterday and had half a beer.

Positive Outlook
Today I emailed my sister and told her that I was going to try and look at this new “diet” as not about what I have to give up, but what I can eat. I am not sure I have convinced myself of this yet—but hey, whatever works.

So, help me on this road which sounds unpaved and bumpy with any advice you may have. And keep the French bread away from me!

Published in: on June 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm  Comments (47)  

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  1. If you don’t try it, you will always wonder if it might have done the trick. And I hope that it won’t take too long for you to be able to determine whether or not this is the source of your pain. You can do this – and you should. Also make sure you’re getting enough potassium – ’cause that can cause leg cramps too…I”m rooting for you my friend.

    • there are so many things we have to think about that we never had to think about before (this is me whining again) but I am going to give it the old college try (even though I went to university)

  2. Hi luv, My daughter has Celiac Disease, diagnosed out of our total surprise and ignorance to why she had diarrhea every day and horrible stomach pains at the age of 17. She always had to excuse herself from class. She had an endoscopy for health insurance to approve her acid reflux script. They biopsied her, and found her celia was all laying down flat, aka, celiac disease which means her celia was not taking in the proper nutrients – celiac disease – needing gluten-free diet. “Gluten sensitivity” and “Celiac Disease” have a gold standard of testing, which is a biopsy. A true celiac has a totally different life from a gluten sensitive life. It’s really worth the testing. There are also blood tests to check, but it’s not known as the gold standard. But I’m a few years out of the loop now, so you might be more up to date than I am. Good luck. Keep me posted.

    • thanks for your input–I have a son who has awful stomach problems and I think I will have him tested for celiac disease–you just made a light go on in my head–appreciate you taking the time to write to me–as for me–I am sure it is just a sensitivity but it would not hurt to find out

  3. Maybe I missed it and you wrote it, but how long is this self-imposed deprivation supposed to last before a result is realized? I mean I’d want to know because like you, I don’t like anything or anyone coming in-between my choices of food and me.

    • I have been told I should know in a couple of weeks–I do not think it is going to be easy

  4. Good luck LouAnn. Sorry to hear you are hurting

  5. I think eating gluten free has become a huge fad and is probably way over-rated but it’s definitely worth trying to see if it makes any difference to the issues that you’ve been dealing with. As mimijk says, you’ll never know for sure if it would have helped if you don’t give it a try. I look forward to hearing how it works out for you. I’m also wondering what you do (or don’t do) for exercise? I suspect that I’d move like you do in the morning if it wasn’t for my morning workouts which focus on core strength but also stretching and balance.

  6. Hi LouAnn. I am gluten insensitive. Up until 1998 I ate wheat based products and enjoyed them. But from around early 1998 my body starting to break down (in all areas – yuck!). Admittedly I was burning the candle at both ends with full time work, study and extra work stuff. After visiting many doctors, I stumbled across a doctor whose specialty was auto-immune problems. After many tests, he announced I was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and that I was gluten insensitive. Though tests showed I wasn’t coeliac, my gluten levels were as high as someone with coeliac – Yikes! My Dr told me to go off all gluten products as well as some other foods. It took me some time (but I was in a bad way) to get back to my ‘normal’ energetic self. I did a lot of food experimenting but after relapses I no longer experiment going back to wheat-based products. I avoid them like the plague and I am so much better off. I also avoid dairy as much as possible but will not say no to the occasional bowl of the homemade vanilla ice-cream- I can put up with the subsequent runny nose. With that said, give it time and I am sure you will see the benefits of a GF diet. There are so many choices of GF products (and price competitive) than there were many moons ago. I have actually found some delicious breads and rolls but it is a matter of asking around or Googling to find out where they are sold. Stick with it. A lot of restaurants now have GF alternatives. But one word of advice and this is just my humble opinion – if you start to feel better, I wouldn’t recommend going back to eating normal bread on a permanent basis. I tried that and slid back health-wise. I am in my 50s and am happy with my energy levels. I wish you all the best.

    • thank you so much for taking the time to give me some great advice–I will certainly take it into consideration and perhaps I should find out officially if I am intolerant of gluten

      • No problem. Am interested in how a GF diet works for you.

      • me too, me too – am having some doubts but will try to stay on the wagon

  7. You are super brave my friend, and I am very proud of you!! I have often considered the whole gluten thing, but I am too much of a carb junky. It will be interesting to see if it does help your legs though because I seem to be getting a lot of stiffness and aching in my legs lately. You can be the official guinea pig :).

    • but I have to say, my will is weak–so I am not a happy guinea pig

      • Just give it your best shot – that’s all you can do :).

      • that is what I am going to do–I am finding wheat flour in the oddest places–cherry licorice of all places!

      • Well, that’s just not fair. Candy (because that’s what I consider licorice) should be off limits for gluten. Bad gluten!!

      • I am relying on our standby–chocolate–

      • Perfection!! Who needs other food?

      • so true, eh?

      • In Australia, I have found GF licorice – not bad at all.

      • Ya eh? LMAO!

  8. A friend of mine, a man, went gluten-free and I didn’t see him for a couple of months. When I did, wow, what a difference. He looked thinner and seemed more energetic. However, you know there is more to the story, I saw him again last week and asked how the gluten-free thing was going. His response? “Oh, I quit that. Who wants to live to be a hundred and twelve when you can’t afford to retire?” So, there you go. Do it LouAnn and may you have great success to report.

  9. I’ll be interested in what you find…. I considered trying it but with all else going on right now… it’s not the right time… But I definitely have to work out some way of losing weight and gaining strength…. Diane

  10. I’m often inclined to think all these different types of diets to be overrated and overhyped. In a lot of cases, if you really break it down and look at your lifestyle habits, you can figure out what to change/improve without doing drastic things like doing a diet overhaul. (Most of these changes involve getting more sleep, drinking more water, exercising, and all those common sense things we know but just fail to follow through on). That being said, I also agree with everyone here who says to give it a try because you never know if that will allow you to feel a lot better. Some light exercising like walking or gentle yoga could also help with the knees. I’ve got bad knees myself after injuring one of them and yoga (along with exercises that don’t involve jumping or too much squatting) has helped. Wishing you the strength to resist that French bread! 😉

    • I appreciate your wish–I do light exercise and have a walking partner so I am not totally a couch potato–but I do think I could up the exercise–like you I am a skeptic about fads too

  11. From what I remember of a very expert book (Food Intolerance:Dr Robert Buist ~ available from Amazon).

    We are often attracted/addicted to foods that we are allergic to, because they have a mild intoxicating (toxic) affect.

    Our defences are digestive enzymes, a screen/filter in our stomach lining and our immune system. We might tolerate an allergenic food for a long time because of the immune system response.

    From another source (but can’t remembe where). Stress or age reduces the defence. Once prone, we then have an increased sensitivity.

    Sorry but you may have to adapt. After being without an allergen for some time, re-use has a noticeable effect. An acute response being a stong indicator.

    If this works for you, then I suggest the full trial. That is 10 days of veg and water. Then introduce small quantities of other food/drinks. You’ll soon notice anything that you are intolerant to.

    There is a theory/practice of introducing tiny quantities of an allergen into a persons diet as a means of helping the body to adapt. But, I think this only applies to the young and not helpful with gluten.

    I would conjecture that those, who have distant ancestry that never needed to adapt to wheat products, never aquired the digestive ability but rather coped because of immune system ability. Eventually the body says “thats enough” and starts showing the effect.

    There are more and more gluten free products and I hope you will find the benefits outweigh any sense of loss. It is certainly a great benefit to now the cause of malaise rather than continuing to suffer, as many do, and think it only the effect of age when it is not.

    Best of Luck
    Regards, Graham

    • thank you for the very thoughful and enlightening comments–you have given me the impetus to carry on and made me understand why I am affected now moreso than I was in the past–really appreciate you taking the time to comment

  12. Bon courage et bonne chance! I raised a daughter who has celiac and learned quickly how difficult it is to be truly gluten free. A votre santé Léa

  13. I would find a gluten-free diet so hard. I love bread. Cookies. and … Pasta!! but when you feel bad, and letting these things go make you feel better, I’m guessing they loose their appeal. I’m wishing you all kinds of luck (nothing worse than feeling yuchy) and I’ll be interested to watch your progress. Considering that your sister had a similar issue ….. I imagine that the odds go way up that you are also sensitive. Good luck!

    • thank you–I am going to need your good luck–I love bread, cookies, all that good stuff so this is not going to be particularly easy but I need to get my “legs back”

  14. Hello, when my gluten intolerant friend comes for dinner, I make bread with spelt flour which she can tolerate and which tastes lovely. There are lots of recipes for cakes and biscuits using ground almonds and or rice flour and they are very satisfying too. I wish you well with the tryout and hope you get the spring back in your legs very quickly! Love, Sally

  15. I went gluten free about 10 years ago due to similar reasons you sited. Joint pain, abdominal bloat, general aching, etc. I am not fully cured, but it has helped immensely. I can definitely tell when I ‘fall off the wagon’ and eat something tasty like ‘real’ cinnamon rolls.
    Something I’m just now learning about is nearly all grains can contribute to inflammation -because they turn to sugar as we digest them. This is terribly sad news to me. I replaced wheat with rice & corn only to find out now I need to wean off them too. But, I”m hoping to continue improving my pain/discomfort as I do.
    Best of luck to you…

  16. I’m a “moderation in all things,” type of person. That said, I find that sometimes I need a little internal laundering so that moderation goes back to being moderate. Good for you, LouAnn, for being proactive about your health! xoxoM

  17. Good for you for trying something, to make a change to see if it will help. I have no experience or words of wisdom on the whole gluten free thing but I think you are smart to keep a diary and track what you eat and how you feel as you go along on this journey. I hope it gives you some relief from those aches and pains.

  18. It will be interesting to see if you start feeling better, LouAnn. Sometimes I ponder trying this, too. Have at least a mild intolerance to gluten because–upon eating delicious bread at a restaurant–suffer from stomach cramps. However, love it sooo darn much that haven’t given it up. Yet. Maybe if your experiment proves fruitful?

  19. Good luck with your diet, I hope it helps you to feel better. I recently read Wheat Belly (and a few others) and what I learned was if you do have a sensitivity to gluten to be aware that gluten free products still have some gluten in them. If you are gluten sensitive I am sorry. I am not much of a bread lover but can imagine it would be hard to walk away from. If you are not gluten sensitive you may want to try a vegan diet which eliminates a lot of the leg issues for me, similar to your issues. Best of luck.

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