|Thinking too much gives you wrinkles...|
When my cousin Michelle first told me about gluten causing strange symptoms in people I blew her off in my mind. It was so out there and crazy…I mean…wheat is good for us right? It’s the staff of life, the basis of the food pyramid, and most importantly the main ingredient in my favorite beverage; Guinness. But…I knew she was smart and I trusted that she had done her homework on this. She’d never led me astray before.
I think she sensed my apprehension...that asking me to give up Guinness would be like asking me to coat myself in honey and walk into a badger’s den. So she offered a less invasive means of testing. Pizza, brownies, and beer were three of the worst glutenous offenders. The Pillsbury Dough Boy’s Deadly Posse so to speak. The challenge was to pay attention to how I felt for the next day or two after ingesting any one of them. Was I more lethargic than usual? If so I might want to consider cutting gluten out for a bit to see how I feel.
That Saturday I had the trifecta. Pan pizza, gooey brownies, and of course my weekly date with Guinness. I hadn’t planned on having all three but it seems the Fates thought it would be comical. They’re always in the mood for a good cosmic joke, They’ve more trickster in Them then most people give them credit for. The next day I felt like someone had turned up the gravity on the planet. As I dragged myself through the day Michelle’s voice was ever present in my thoughts. I very likely had an issue with gluten.
I sat my husband Brian down shortly before bed and told him that I’d like to try cutting out gluten for a month to see if my back rash got better. It was, not coincidentally, the same type of back rash he had; only his was much more severe. He was in full support of the idea and even went a step further, deciding to join me for the trial without my even having to breach the subject. Such is the awesomeness of Brian. If you read my blog long enough you will see that this is a reoccurring theme.
Having kicked his 20 year Mountain Dew habit earlier in the year he had been dropping weight steadily and feeling better overall. So he figured why not see if there was anything to this gluten thing?
We would both give the Gluten Free diet one month and see what happened. It wasn’t until sometime later that I realized this was the standard trial time; one to three months. Most people see results in the first few weeks and we were no exception. By week three my rash was gone and Brian’s was noticeably reduced. I figured that I would just cut back on gluten and deal with beer and pizza giving me a rash now and again.
The Fates, laughing all the while, had other ideas.
You see later that week, as I finished out my one month trial, I accidentally had something with gluten in it and my throat and thyroid gland both swelled up within half an hour. They had been swollen my whole life and had gone down so gradually over the three weeks I hadn’t even noticed. When I checked the ingredients on what I had been eating I found a hidden form of gluten that had been missed. Inside the hour I was exhausted, brain fogged and my itchy rash had returned.
Now, having an ugly rash is one thing, I can always wear a sweater, but my thyroid…that was a sore spot for me in more than just the literal sense (See my post below). What the heck did gluten have to do with my poor sickly little butterfly? As I held my swollen neck Brian and I just looked at each other in disbelief.
What had we stumbled on to?
For the next couple of months I went through the kind of arduous research that would have made Holmes proud. Twelve to sixteen hours a day on forums, medical sites, You Tube, health journals, and radio shows in pursuit of answers. I devoured every bit of information on gluten and the thyroid that happened into my interweb. In the process a bigger picture began to come into focus. I learned about other disorders both auto-immune and psychological being linked to gluten, including Depression which I had suffered from for 17 years…
And so it was that I came to a hard truth. My much loved relationship with the dark side, with Guinness, was toxic. I had to leave, or one day I knew it would kill me.
My brain made a very important distinction from that point forward. Wheat, rye, and barley…these things aren’t food, anymore than drywall or plastic or Roundy’s Quality Brand Barbecue Flavored Chips are.
Chairman Bob approved or not.