Healing Through My Gut – Part 1 – Gluten Free

gluten free

Your gut is your health and if your gut isn’t healthy, you won’t be! It’s just that simple. Many people won’t change how they eat, because they just plain don’t want to, but when you have serious health issues, it’s definitely time to reconsider what you eat.

Two years prior to this writing, I was not aware that what I was eating was a major reason for the way I felt and my health. I was always under the impression that whatever happened to my health was something I probably inherited. Not necessarily and I’m learning something new every day!

If it weren’t for my allergist putting me on an Elimination Diet for 30 days the end of April 2014, I would probably never have started on this journey and would have really suffered the consequences. I believe, with his good intentions, he opened up a whole different world for me. Sometimes very pleasant, and sometimes not so much.

I always knew I had a problem with rye bread and was told at a very young age I was allergic to barley and corn. Well, little did I know that I have probably been gluten intolerant my whole life. As a kid, when we went to a deli for lunch with my parents, they would order corned beef on rye. I would get a nasty stomach ache shortly after that would last a day or two. Being the tenacious person I am, I would try to eat rye bread once in a while, but it always ended the same. So I learned to avoid it on principal. Now I know, after the elimination diet, that gluten is a definite no-no for me. It only took me 66 years to discover this, but I guess it’s better late than never! Saying that though, I always ate corn – loved it – but once again, something I hadn’t realized was causing health issues.

These three allergens have actually had a cumulative affect on my gut, along with other foods I really should not have been eating – dairy, soy, eggs, sugar just to name a few. So once on the elimination diet and the subsequent reintroduction of foods, these things all started to rear their ugly heads. It really has been an eye opener. My husband wasn’t the least bit pleased because he really didn’t understand why, but he’s really been a trouper through this whole experience, but he does now. And, this was just the beginning.

Because the allergist did not provide the information I needed to reintroduce foods back, I decided I should do some investigating. I had called the doctor’s office and his office assistant simply told me to just go back to the way I was eating before – NOT! This was not a satisfactory answer in my mind, so I decided to do some investigating on my own. Thank you Google!

The first thing I looked up was how to reintroduce foods after an elimination diet. I was blown away with the number of sites that offered the information I needed, but I wanted to find one that reintroduced “everything” as that was what I had eliminated. My elimination diet included – turkey and lamb for protein; lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower for vegetables; blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apples, lemons for fruit; barley for starch which I switched out for brown rice due to my allergy; decaffeinated tea, rosemary, ginger, garlic, turmeric, sea salt for spices – that was pretty much what I ate for 30 days and I lost 16 lbs. Bonus!

Thank goodness I found a very good reintroduction guide with JJ Virgin and her book “The Virgin Diet“. This book contains a practical guide for elimination and reintroduction of foods when you suspect you have dietary issues and are suffering from health problems.

Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

And, as I have discovered, it is so very true!

Let’s find out what happened when I started to reintroduce food into my system. A little back history is in order here. Over the years, I had noticed I was clearing my throat constantly. Whenever I ate, or when I came into any proximity of a smoker. Something my father did all the time. I do it, and so does my younger sister and one of my sons. I’ve since learned that this is my bodies way of letting me know I shouldn’t be eating certain foods (or be anywhere near a smoker). Hmmm! During the “elimination” phase of this diet – I no longer was clearing my throat all the time. WOW, that was powerful for me.

First I introduced gluten foods, namely bread. At the time I was reintroducing gluten, I had to go for my pre-op examination for my hip surgery at the hospital, so I made sandwiches for us to eat while we were away. We waited until we were finished at the hospital and ate them in the car while we drove home. By the time we were half way home, I started clearing my throat like I had never stopped! OK, that was interesting. It didn’t stop until well after we arrived home half an hour later. I think it took about 2 hours before I actually stopped clearing my throat. Well, the reintroduction was to be done over the course of the day, so it was toast for breakfast, sandwich at lunch, and bread at dinner. Wham! I cleared my throat for a full day following that one. Not good! Thinking back to when I was a kid, and my reaction to Rye bread – a bell went off in my head. I now knew that gluten wasn’t good for me. When I read JJ’s book, she mentioned that you could try again in 3 months to see if there was any difference. So I thought that would be OK, but when I mentioned it to my doctor, she said that she didn’t think it was such a good idea and that I should consider staying away from it. Also, since I have autoimmune diseases, gluten and dairy are absolute no-no’s. No gluten. Great. I’m a baker! Not so good!

I continued on the reintroduction of another food the following week. Next was soy. Well, again a bit of history – I turned Vegan in 1991 after taking a course and realizing how good a diet that was to be consuming nothing with a face or a mother. That lasted for quite a number of years, when I then started to return some dairy – cheese and yogurt – to my diet, and then about 2005 started to reintroduce meat and fish back into my diet, but not milk products. So Soy – which at this point it had been 25 years in my diet in the form of tofu, soy milk, and various other soy products. Of course, everything I had been reading had said that soy was good for you. And it was such a big part of my diet. I hadn’t had any soy during the elimination diet, so it had time to get out of my system. First I tried a smoothie with soy milk. Almost immediately I started to clear my throat. Then at lunch I had tofu – again with clearing my throat. What’s that all about? I didn’t bother having any the next meal because I knew what would happen. Soy was OUT! Oh my!

The next week I decided dairy was in order. I hadn’t really eaten a lot of dairy over the past 25 years, so didn’t think it was an issue. Was I wrong. I started off with milk in my smoothie that morning. Again with clearing my throat and bloating. I tried cheese at lunch – clearing my throat almost right away after eating. I decided to try yogurt for a snack – again with the clearing of my throat. Oh well, there goes another one. I’ll just have to figure something else out to replace the dairy and soy products.

Another week later, I tried eggs. YAY, finally something that didn’t make me clear my throat! So I could reintroduce them into my diet, but only after I completed the reintroduction of the other foods.

I have always known that I was allergic to corn and barley from the very first allergy testing I had done when I was about 7 years old. During the elimination phase of the diet, because barley was part of the food list, I included it in a soup I made. Wrong! My stomach almost exploded with pain and bloating. So I knew I couldn’t try it again. But corn – which I loved – was another story – I thought. Again, I bought some corn, cooked it up and ate some. Within a half hour of eating it, I was clearing my throat constantly again! OK, now I know it’s a real problem and probably should have never eaten it at any time.

Do you know what corn is in? Everything, including just about everything in a package or a can, a huge amount of prescription drugs, and just about every supplement you can think of on the market. I have to read absolutely every label to see if there is any corn in any form because it causes me throat/phlegm issues. Really! This sucks big time.

After the reintroduction experiment, I decided that I would go totally Gluten Free, Soy Free, and Dairy Free. Was I in for a big surprise. Do you know how hard it was back just 2 years ago to get good gluten free products. It wasn’t convenient at all. As a matter of fact, it was expensive and inconvenient. I had to clean out a lot of my cupboards. My husband wasn’t part of this, so he wasn’t going to give up his pleasures. So I kept the things I knew he wanted and worked around it. But, I did have to stock up on new kinds of flours for baking – rice flours, sorghum flour, teff flour, etc., got rid of and replaced my baking products that contained corn and made my own baking powder and replaced a lot of the powders with arrowroot and tapioca powder/flour. Did you know there is gluten and corn in Worcestershire Sauce? Can’t have canned/packaged soups, or bouillon cubes, anymore, so have to make it all. Reading labels is so very important now. Replaced my soy milk with coconut and almond milks. Now the dairy was going to be a challenge because I really liked the taste of cheese and the yogurt. Most “artificial” cheese is made with soy, so that was out. I had to make my own “cheese”, but I could at least buy coconut yogurt. So now this part of the journey was on.

I had to replace all of my bread recipes with new gluten free bread recipes. It was going to be a challenge, because it was a totally different process to make breads.

Each time I made a new recipe, of course I had to have my husband try it. Much to my dismay, the bread I made always came out to be like a house brick. Small, hard, and about the size of a house brick – and tasted like one as well! Nothing good came of it. To be truthful, I did try other things though. I made cakes, pies, and desserts, but bread was not to happen. Even what I bought at the store didn’t taste close to what I was used to. So gone was the bread. The rest was OK, so we stuck with it.

Thinking back now I guess it would be about 7 months I persevered with the Gluten Free bread and dessert making, before I decided I needed to do more for my health because I wasn’t feeling all that great.

I had been doing quite a bit of reading and research over that time and had landed on some options I thought would help me best.

To be continued….

Healing Through My Gut – Part 2 – Paleo