As far back as I can remember, I always felt bad. But I didn’t recognize how bad I felt until I finally felt good! I thought that it was normal to live in an existence where pain, bloating, aches (headaches/stomach) were normal. What finally happened to make me realize I was unhealthy? Taking my then 12 month old daughter (picture above is from her first birthday party) to a Naturopath because western medicine wasn’t offering me anything besides cortisone for her eczema. I’ll get into details, but it began a while back…..
I remember as a child, probably even as young as 7, getting the worst migraine headaches. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t swallow pills, my Dad would crush up children’s Tylenol for me to swallow and I would just lay with cold cloths on my head, eyes closed in agony. The only sign of the migraine coming to an end was throwing up. Even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes, it was terrible. And when I wasn’t dealing with headaches, I was always sick with a sore throat, or throwing up from something. Don’t get me wrong, I was a healthy, thriving child, but the times when I didn’t feel good were not fun and I don’t ever remember feeling good in my body. Then come my teenage years and hormones, lord help me, the migraines continued, I was also put on birth control at the age of 15 for cramps and that made them worse. I would still get hit with being sick, always feeling like I was on the verge of a cold with body aches and pains and then a few days or even day later, feel ok again.
Then, came the years of drinking, my favorite was beer, and I had NO IDEA that it was making me sick. I would get these odd stomach aches that would leave me in the bathroom, I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I was going to have a heart attack my heart was thumping so loudly. It was written off as anxiety by friends and family, not knowing that it was my intolerance to gluten and histamines that were causing it. After I had my daughter, I didn’t drink very often, but I ate, and I ate a lot! Whatever I wanted, because I had the “excuse” of nursing, so it was muffins, breads, pastas and anything else that my heart desired. Teagan, my daughter, was a super gassy baby, always in pain, and we just gave her OTC stuff for it, not thinking anything of what I was putting in my body could hurt her. Finally, when she had just turned 1 and I felt like I wasn’t getting the help or support I needed for her, I turned to a Naturopath. I made an appointment and it all changed, slowly, but surely, we began to feel better.
When I went in for her appointment, she had a small quarter size patch of eczema on her bottom. First thing out of our ND’s mouth was, “Take wheat and dairy out of her diet”. Well, it wasn’t going to include just her diet, it was also going to include mine because she was still nursing. This was back in the day when I would just jump on a train of something new without preparing. So the very next day I was on it! Or so I thought, I didn’t realized how much stuff actually contained gluten! It’s in everything! Sauces, mixes, things where you wouldn’t think it would be hiding, it was there! I remember so clearly my husband Josh saying “Oh man, well, we don’t want it to be wheat, because what would we do for everything, like cake for parties etc?”, and even at that time, I knew we would do what we needed to. It was a rocky start, but we took gluten and dairy out for a 3 weeks to allow it to get out of my milk, and what do you know? Her eczema went away, so we decided to reintroduce everything again, and it came back, even bigger! Our ND said it was more than likely gluten rather than dairy because of how inflammatory it is, so we kept gluten out. The biggest surprise to me? I felt better! By the end of my first week, I couldn’t believe how much of a difference I noticed. I went from feeling like I was on the verge of getting sick (tired, achy, not feeling good) every week to feeling good!!
This was when my “AHA” moment happened. Teagan stopped having gas issues, I stopped having stomach pain, headaches (I did and still do get them but not nearly the same degree and no longer need OTC meds to help), I stopped having to take Theraflu once a week when I felt achy. And all of a sudden, it sunk in that all my times of not feeling well, of feeling like I was about to have an anxiety attack, heart palpitations, sick feelings, where all because of gluten! I realized that we weren’t made to fee sick! We were born into bodies that are meant to feel GOOD!!! Yes, that’s right! We are here to feel good from the inside out. What we put in, makes all the world of difference on what we put out and on how our body reacts and responds.
When I began the gluten free journey 7 years ago, the market wasn’t what it is now, there were good things, but it was a struggle and a process to find them. We tasted all of them, trust me lol! I made a lot of things from scratch, we found good mixes, we loved our rice noodles and found a way to survive and still eat and have it taste good. The market has changed so much since then that it’s so easy to replace stuff now. Some people will say the gluten free “diet” is a fad and is wrong, well, I’m grateful for so many people jumping on the band wagon! Although recent research has discovered that this “fad diet” surpasses all others, this doesn’t surprise me when so many people FEEL better not eating it. We could have been tested for Celiac, but we would have had to have eaten gluten again for a while to be tested and why bother when you still stand a greater chance of testing negative, but still having it? So you know what my ND said? “If you feel better not eating gluten, don’t eat it. I’m not going to make you suffer to get tested to still not know”. Amen! We felt better! The inflammation caused by wheat in our body was wreaking havoc on our immune systems, once we removed it, we could function normally.
We had to do some work to recover ourselves, me more so than my daughter. I had leaky gut syndrome from the years of antibiotics, an entire lifetime at that point, to heal my body from what gluten had done to me. Probiotics became one of my best friends, as did Yoga a year after going gluten free. This alone helped my body heal and help my inflammation levels greatly but, it still took time, I had to reverse 30 years of eating gluten. Then 5 years after being gluten free, I discovered that my body didn’t process grains well either. Grains can still cause inflammation in the body and cause the body to react the same way it would to gluten, say what?!?! Yes, it’s true, just ask my Mom who is completely intolerant to rice, you can check out this great article from the Gluten Free Society too www.glutenfreesociety.org/is-it-gluten-sensitivity-or-grain-induced-inflammation-research-update/
And now, 7 years later, 3 out of the 4 of us are grain free, as our son can fare well with gluten free grains rather than being grain free. But I know how to cook it all and help feed my family the way that helps our bodies thrive the best. When I look back on our journey, it’s been just that, a journey through discovering what works, what doesn't and most importantly what tastes good and what makes us FEEL good! Our journey didn’t just begin one day and that was it, it took us a solid year to finally cut gluten out all together, we still “allowed” for times to have it, until we felt completely ready to walk away. We have happy tummies, happy heads, no more anxiety, no more bloating and just an overall sense of well being.
Who knew that I would need to live a life feeling bad, to really recognize and appreciate what it felt like to FELL GOOD?!
May this inspire you, or someone you know to take the step towards finding and embracing a life of feeling good.
(Curious to know if you should remove gluten? Check out this article from MindBodyGreen sharing the top 10 signs of being Gluten Intolerant.
From my heart and hO’Me to yours
Mary O'Meara -