Gluten Free is Not Just for Celiac Disease
There are plenty of reasons to go on a gluten free diet, the most well known being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
There are varying levels of gluten intolerance from getting an upset stomach or a persistent headache, to an allergic reaction, to full blown Celiac Disease where gluten is actually damaging your body from the inside out. It certainly makes you think of those dinner rolls and breakfast cereals in a different way.
My 4 Year Love-Hate Relationship with My Allergy Medication
I had no idea I was allergic to gluten.
I've always had allergies and sensitive skin, it's just a way of life for me. For years my allergies and skin problems were calm. When I started breaking out in hives on occasion we had recently moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia, so I naturally thought it was a change in conditions... different airborne pollen and mold spores, different plant life, different water treatment chemicals, etc... and my doctor agreed so he prescribed some new allergy medication.
Problem solved, right? Wrong. The medication helped for awhile then the hives came back. They'd come and go to varying degrees. These photos were taken in 2008 during one of my hive outbreaks.
This was actually early on and certainly not even close to being the worst event of hives, but I did go get a shot of Benedryl and a shot of Prednisone this day though. (I will rant about injections like this some other day)
When I had a particularly bad outbreak I'd end up taking more medication. Benedryl, Hydroxyzine and Prednisone became my best friends. If a day went by where I didn't take a pill or three every couple hours I felt blessed. I bought in bulk. I had prescriptions on standby. It was a way of life. And not your usual over-the-counter dosages, prescription dosages. It was a lot of little pink and white pills.
I Tried a Million and Two Things to Get Rid of My Hives
...still not realizing I was allergic to gluten.
I tried so many things. I researched, I read, and I read some more. Then I'd see the doctor and we'd brainstorm possibilities, come up with ideas, and then I'd research some more. I drank funky smoothies, I ate weird yogurt, I used oils, creams, tinctures, and bath treatments.
I tried drinking more water.
-- That just made me pee a lot.
I tried vitamins and supplements.
-- I had allergic reactions to half of them.
I tried a liver cleanse diet.
-- You can actually see the book in one of the photos above, obviously that didn't work.
I tried a probiotic yeast-overgrowth treating diet, including expensive probiotic supplements.
-- This actually came closest to helping, probably because I wasn't eating any pasta or bread while on it.
I tried any home remedy anyone suggested, and some they even recommended against.
-- These were interesting, but they didn't get rid of the hives.
The truth is over 90% of the time the cause of hives are not medically identified, they just go away on their own or they don't. Often times before an official diagnosis is reached the patient's hives have already gone away, leaving them and their doctor baffled. Hives baffle even the best medical experts and skin care doctors every single day, that is a fact.
Unidentified Allergy or Stress
... so they said.
When it comes to chronic hives and reoccurring hives the cause is likely to be an allergy of some kind. It could be an environmental allergy, a food allergy ... OR it could be just plain stress. This was the reason I was given in many cases when they couldn't figure out what I was allergic to. "You need to be less stressed," they would say. I would say, "But, I'm not stressed. If I have any stress it's because I have these damn hives!" A vicious cycle it would seem.
I'd come home from the doctor frustrated and itchy. Sometimes when it was really bad I'd get another injection of Benedryl and/or Prednisone. Sometimes I'd get a prescription for Prednisone. But, I could only have those things every now and then, not all the time. In between doses of relief I was miserable. This was making me irritable, cranky, anti-social, and feeling completely awful all around. I couldn't concentrate, I didn't want to attend events at my children's schools, I didn't even want to go to the grocery store because people looked at me like I had the plague. I just wanted to stay in bed, go nowhere, see no one.
Then I Heard Something That Sounded a Lot Like Me...
... and my life changed forever
In 2010 I met Dr. Peter Osborne, not realizing that he was eventually going to change my life. You see, I met him via a work project ~ he's not even my doctor.
In early 2011 I was listening to an interview that Dr. Peter did for his radio show and they were discussing the effects of gluten, as they often do. Only this time, the conversation had me nodding my head and thinking, "that sounds familiar," quite a lot. I actually grabbed my notepad and scribbled down a few things.
I figured what the heck, I had tried every other kind of diet, a few weeks of being gluten free was worth a try! I discussed it with my husband since he does most of the cooking and he helped me plan some meals for the trial period and we went grocery shopping.
Gluten Free ~ Hive Free ~ Medication Free!
Finally after four years!
I started with a two week trial of being gluten free in March of 2011. Within two weeks my hives were nearly gone, my sinuses were cleared up, and I was only taking allergy medication once a day.
Within six weeks I had lost 12 pounds, the arthritis in my hands wasn't bothering me as much, my hives were gone, I hadn't had a migraine in a month, and I felt fantastic.
Nine months later (October 2011) my hives are still gone, I've lost nearly 40 pounds, my arthritis rarely bothers me, my feet don't swell up like they used to, I don't get the sniffles as often, I haven't had a migraine in nearly six months (compared to the once or twice a week that I used to get them ever since I was a teenager,) I don't take any allergy medication and I have a new appreciation for food.
Goodbye Bread, Hello Sushi!
I was a girl who had a love affair with bread and starches, I will fully admit to that right up front. I would gladly go to Olive Garden just for the breadsticks, I loved a dish of twirly pasta, cupcakes were dreamy, muffins or toast were for breakfast daily. Making the change wasn't easy.... but it wasn't hard either.
What does that mean? When I got through those first few weeks it was hard, I didn't know what I was doing, I had to read every label, I had to change my mindset about food completely. But, once I got over that hurdle it got easier.
I found new foods to love, sushi replaced bread in my heart, Larabars replaced muffins on hurried mornings. I found new flours to bake with that were gluten free (almond flour, rice flour, there are tons of flours!) Going gluten free became an adventure, and as I went further in the adventure it became easier.
Side note, sushi is generally gluten free - however, the soy sauce that's served up on the side is not! Beware the sauces and dressings if you're going gluten free.
But, one thing helped me more than anything.... bloggers. Gluten free bloggers, foodie bloggers, the internet was a wealth of information about being gluten free.
Apple Pie Larabars - My Favorite Gluten Free Snack - I always have one in my bag!
Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non-gmo, vegan, kosher larabar real; No added sugar
Fair trade certified ingredients; Delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices
Made from 100% whole food; Each flavor contains no more than eight ingredients; Uncooked and unprocessed