Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Gluten Free "Why"

I've been putting off blogging about this for awhile now, but I feel like I am finally ready to put it out there. Some people might say (or at the very least, think) I'm crazy. I consider the words "whole wheat" my enemy.  I started eating gluten free at the end of December. On a Sunday evening was our annual girlfriend dinner. I had just ended a few weeks on a horrible dosage of steroids. I was chasing away my worst allergic reaction yet and they had to use three different steroids and epinephrine (and more benadryl than the average person will probably take in their whole life) to get it to go away. It. was. horrible. The steroids made me gain weight, the high dosage of benadryl made me retain water, and was SO bloated that I literally could not wear any of my jeans. I remember telling my friends not to tag me in any photos that night because I felt like if you stuck a pin in me, I'd burst.

The other important background information that I'll try to sum up quickly are the YEARS of pain and suffering I've endured with colon problems. I'm talking since 7th grade! I'm turning 31 next month so that's quite a few years. In my 20's I had to have two colonoscopies because my pain was so immense and my food would not digest. They would always say that it looked good, but then the biopsies would come back "moderate to focally severe chronic inflammation". They'd give me new meds. The meds wouldn't work. I finally gave up.

A friend posted an article about "reasons why you probably shouldn't eat wheat" and I thought, "it's time." After just a few days of eating gluten free, my bloating went waaay down. I've now been gluten free for almost three months and I've NEVER felt better! I no longer live as a slave to the nearest bathroom. My allergist did a celiac blood test a few days after I went gluten free (not ideal, but that was when my unrelated appointment happened to be), and it came back negative. That's great news, but it also tells me that you don't have to be allergic to something to be intolerant to it.

After going gluten free, I started buying all of the "gluten free" labeled stuff in the grocery store. THEN, I started reading Wheat Belly. It's quite interesting to find out how they have mutated the genes of what we know as wheat. The book also spells out the why I feel so much better after cutting out gluten. All the packaged stuff has just replaced flour with alternative gluten free flours. The further I read, the more I became in tune with how directly what I put in my body reflected how my body was going to feel. Your mama knew what she was talking really are what you eat. After realizing that the packaged food wasn't actually "good" for me either, I stopped buying it. Most of my time at the grocery store is now spent in the pretty section, the produce! Most of what I eat now was at one time a living thing, or came from a living thing. Don't even get me started on all the chemicals in food!

The most wonderful things have happened since I've changed my lifestyle. I can actually FEEL the lack inflammation in my body. One other thing I forgot to say is that I have osteoarthritis. So bad, in fact, that I had to have a partial knee replacement in one knee that was bone-on-bone. My other knee is heading that way, but I'm putting off surgery until I can't walk on it. The amazing thing is that my knee that is waiting on surgery is actually HARDLY hurting anymore! Before I went gluten free it was terrible.

All of this was just the beginning of a wake up call for me. It's really made me see that we need to be peeling produce stickers off of what we eat instead of opening boxes and plastic packaging. Instead of a long list of ingredients, we should be eating things with a four digit code on them. Now we eat grilled salmon or chicken with mounds of grilled veggies or roasted asparagus. It's such a change for me. I've even started using my stationary bike about 4-5 times a week! That's huge for me. Putting good fuel in your body, makes your cells feel ALIVE, and you have energy to do things that you used to dread. I still don't enjoy exercise and I probably never will, but I know that I will get out of this body what I put into it. My years can be sleepy and achy, or they can be energetic and healthy. They can hold the hope of trying new things. My hubby and I are going on a zip line tour of the Santa Cruz Redwood Canopy next month! I kayaked for the first time in my life last month! That's a far cry from the girl who screamed bloody murder when her parents took her down a shallow river in a canoe as a child.

 I want to feel good enough to do the things I thought I'd never do. THIS is what I want: I want a life fully lived.

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