If you have tried or are continuing with the low fodmap diet you will probably agree that it can be challenging as it is quite restrictive. Why then have I made my life even more difficult by also following a diet that is gluten free?
There is a story to this and I will tell you the short version, as it isn’t very glamorous, but I wanted to give you some insights into why I have made the decision to eat the way I do.
Late last year I went to see a new doctor who had been recommended to me via conversations between followers of Sarah Wilson’s blog. He was recommended as someone who really helped people who suspected thyroid disorders, as many other doctor’s dismiss isolated symptoms without necessarily looking for the whole picture. After a series of tests he told me that everything looked to be in order but did spend time really talking to me about how I was feeling and strongly suggested that I try and rest. And so I did as best I could.
4 months later, in March this year I just had a feeling that something wasn’t right, I was so lethargic and foggy in my mind and found everything more of an effort than usual. So back I went. This time my doctor prescribed Vitamin D, zinc, and iodine and told me that my thyroid results were out-side the ‘normal’range, whereas before they had been well within normal.
I have mentioned in previous posts that my mum has Hashimoto’s which is a thyroid auto-immune disease. She has experienced immense relief following a gluten free diet and more recently, a paleo diet, and so I decided that if I wanted to have an immediate impact on my health and avoid this disease I needed to take action now rather than later. And that is the reason why I have made my eating more complex by avoiding gluten and to a large extent, grains. (Note, my blood tests have never showed a problem with gluten.)
After reading Sarah Ballantyne’s book ‘The Paleo Approach’, an amazing encyclopedia of health research on auto-immune disease, I also made some lifestyle changes, specifically cutting back on high intensity exercise and trying to reduce my stress. I haven’t completely given up running, but I have shelved future plans of another half-marathon. I no longer do long or intense gym sessions as I think they may have compromised my health. Now I spend time every day walking my dog Ralph or being active as much as possible.
I went back to see my amazing doctor in August, and I was astonished to find that my TSH levels were low – are great sign that my thyroid health has improved! What a difference these changes made.
Over the past six months there have been a few times that I have inadvertently eaten gluten – a bottle of beer, bbq pork ribs and gluten-containing sauces. The ‘day after’ eating gluten on each of these occasions was unbelievably awful, and this is the real reason why I will never go back. I could barely drag myself out of bed, I couldn’t think properly and I felt like I was in a black hole. I mentioned this to my doctor who smiled and said, ‘Well it sounds like do you have a problem with gluten. That is easily fixed, don’t eat it.”
When I am eating out, in my mind I have a mental list that ranks food starting with those things I will not eat and then moves down to those things that I know are higher in fodmap’s but that I will eat in order to have an enjoyable meal out, despite the knowledge that I will experience discomfort a few days later. Gluten is at the top of the list. I would rather go hungry or offend someone than eat gluten and put myself through another ‘day after’.
One of the reasons that I wanted to share this personal story is to encourage you to also consider going gluten free for a couple of months. Unless you do you will never know if gluten is having an insidious impact on your health: physical and mental health.