Is gluten sensitivity a real thing?
My husband, Sean, has been gluten free for 5 years now. After $30,000 worth of doctor bills and tests we took him to a homeopathic doctor who told him to get off gluten and dairy and wa-la, all his pain went away in a week! He had the celiac test done and it came back negative so we had mentally ruled it out. Then we learned the difference between an allergy and a sensitivity. You can’t really test accurately for a sensitivity. But when you cut it out and your pain goes away-you know that’s what it is.
I still ate gluten but I made everything gluten free for him. There were times I doubted him and thought it was “all in his head” but it was odd because he is so tough. He doesn’t even get Novocain when he has dental work done! So if he was complaining about pain then I knew it had to be real. But I wasn’t buying in to the gluten thing. One time I actually bought ego waffles and swapped out his gf one, without him knowing, to “test” it. I thought it was maybe a mental thing. Like if he knew he ate gluten he felt pain, but if he didn’t know then he wouldn’t even notice. I don’t think he’s an idiot, but I do know how strong our minds are! So I figured a simple test wouldn’t hurt. He walked into the kitchen the next morning and said, “man, I don’t know what I ate but something had gluten, my side is killing me.” My face went white, I felt terrible for not believing him before and I couldn’t believe I caused his pain on purpose. From that day on I knew it wasn’t make believe. And I promised him I would never trick him again.
A month before our long awaited trip to Italy, I found out I had also developed a very painful allergy to gluten too. You gotta be kidding me! Right before our trip where I planned to eat my way through Italy…pizza, pasta, croissants, pastries and bread galore.
My reaction to gluten is pretty painful, when I eat it I get really achy joints, fatigue, brain fog, it really messes with my mood but the worst side effect of all is I can’t sleep. At night, my legs start twitching and it can be very painful. All night I’ll toss and turn and feel like I’m on crack, it feels like bugs are crawling all over me. It’s quite terrible. For about a month I didn’t sleep, I was miserable and seriously thought I was dying. It took me a while to figure out the culprits: gluten, food coloring, MSG, and there’s still one more I’m trying to figure out but there’s some type of additive in food that bothers me (when I eat highly processed food I get the reaction but to a lesser degree). I always joke that it must be sexually transmitted and I “caught” the gluten sensitivity from Sean hahaha. It’s not so bad now that we both have it though, we are just a gluten free household. And it’s fun to create new yummy recipes that are gluten free versions of our typical gluten favs.
Shortly after I got 100% off gluten, our 4 year old started complaining about side pain and aching after eating gluten at his grandmas house. Now we are all gluten free, clearly gluten is not good for our bodies!
I’ve read that gluten sensitivities are common in the US because all of the over processing,
pesticides, bleaching and GMOs! (The “Wheat Belly” book has a lot of info on this if you want to learn more). So thinking that it may be a problem that’s only in the US, Sean and I were very hopeful that we would be ok in Italy. We wanted to try the pizza or bread and see if we would be ok. Where better to try a croissant than the Amalfi Coast when we did a 2 night lovers getaway?! You can see in the picture below the croissant we tried, we thought we would be fine…. we weren’t. After eating it and testing our bodies we decided to stay gluten free for the rest of the trip. The pain just isn’t worth the five seconds of serious deliciousness. Thank God they offered gluten free pasta at most places.
Every once in a while we test our limits to see if it magically disappeared or if certain things won’t bother us. And sometimes we give in and deal with the pain just because something is so good. Like the time we went to San Francisco and ate an entire pizza! But the next day we paid for it in pain and didn’t touch gluten again for a looong time.
After 2 months of be
ing off gluten, you stop missing it. Ok, sort of. If I see a donut or a really good looking pizza, I get tempted for a minute! But I don’t really miss gluten the way I thought I would, I almost think of it as a “non-food” and when I feel tempted, I just think of the pain it causes me. Now it’s not even hard to stay away from it and we’ve found tons of good gluten free products that satisfy any craving we may have. I’ll list some of our favorite products on the next post.
But I will say, this gluten sensitivity is a real thing so if you know someone who stays away from gluten, they probably aren’t faking it! After all, who would ever voluntarily stop eating bread, pizza, donuts etc!?!
Some common signs you may have a sensitivity to gluten:
Autoimmune diseases (I was hypothyroid until I got off gluten)
itchiness and dry skin
Neurological problems (I get actual twitching and leg nerve pain)
weight gain or loss