The Great Gluten Challenge

January 1st I decided to do a 21 day cleanse. You’ve probably heard of it. It’s the Quantum Wellness cleanse, made popular by Oprah. I didn’t hear about it from her. I heard about it through a friend who had a sister that did it. I’d had one or two or, okay, about a hundred, too many cookies during the holidays, and I thought a cleanse sounded dandy. I’d also been having some increasingly annoying digestive issues and I figured if this helped those, all the better.

So, I ended December with a flurry of eating “one last bite” of this or that, and started the year with excited and motivated to eat clean – no gluten, no animal products, no refined sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol. I was already mostly vegetarian, and I’ve been lactose intolerant for years. So, it wasn’t that radical of a change. Mostly, we were talking about giving gluten the big heave-ho.

Never having done that before, I started poking around the internet for recipes and advice, and I stumbled on a great forum for celiacs. I introduced myself and asked a couple of questions and I was kind of taken aback when everyone suggested I cease and desist with the cleanse and get myself to the doctor for celiac testing. P’shaw, I thought. I’m not thinking I have a problem with gluten. I’m just doing this little cleanse thing.

Well a couple of weeks passed and I started feeling good. No, really good. Better than I’d felt in, well, maybe ever. And, I’m no slouch, here either folks. I’ve been competing in triathlons for 5 years now. I’m active, I’m reasonably healthy. I thought I felt pretty good before. We reached the end of the 21 days, but I didn’t want to quit. So, I kept going.

In February, I turned 39. The day after my birthday, when it had been just about 2 months since I’d started the cleanse, I figured maybe it was about time to see if I could add stuff back in. What’d I start with? Freshly baked home-made bread slathered with roasted garlic mashed up with olive oil and salt. Oh yah, baby. That was delicious. For about 5 minutes. That’s about how long it took before my nose started to drip snot and my sinuses closed up and my head started to ache. The stomach burning came a little later. Houston, we have a problem.

The next morning, I contacted my doctor, who politely informed me that if I wanted to get tested for celiac, I should spend the next 2 weeks making myself sick. Apparently, you can’t test for antibodies unless your system is all in an uproar.

Now I’m 6 days into 14 days of eating gluten. My husband looked at me the other day and said, “you look like hell.” Why thanks, hon. I feel like hell, too.

The lesson? I should have listened to those nice folks in the celiac forum. If you have even the faintest notion that you might have an issue with our not so good friend, gluten, get tested first, ‘kay? Thanks.

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6 Responses to The Great Gluten Challenge

  1. Hi, Me again.. so what was the diagnosis? Did you have celiac, or are you just “sensitive to gluten?”

  2. Deanna says:

    The diagnosis was non-celiac gluten-sensitive. Though, the more I read, the more I realize that my 2-week challenge may not have been enough to get an accurate blood test. The plan is to “live like a celiac.” I know that I’m sensitive enough not to be able to bake with gluten flour (it gets in the air, and I get sick). But, I don’t have to have my own jar of peanut butter to avoid crumbs (or at least I’ve never been able to tell that I’m having a reaction from that). We have very little gluten anything in the house though – basically, we have bagels, cereal, and the occasional crackers for the kiddo. Everything else is gluten-free.

  3. That’s what I suspect of me and my daughter. I almost don’t want to be tested, so I can assume I am, and live like a celiac. If I get tested and It’s negative, it would be difficult for me to stick with it.

  4. Deanna says:

    Well, it’s good to know for sure, as for some people celiac is absolutely silent until major damage is done. I got tested for my son’s sake.

    If you’re anything like me, once you see how good you feel, and how crappy you feel when you do have gluten, it’s not hard not to cheat.

  5. Ahhh, good point. I’ll call our doctors today! Although I suspect for me, major damage is already done (Hypothyroid and ulcerative colitis I’m suspecting is an autoimmune response to my gluten!??!) Have you heard that connection?

  6. Deanna says:

    I’ve heard anecdotal stuff about both of those illnesses. The good news is that your body can probably recover, given enough time. I’m glad you’re going to call your doc. It’s best to get tested!

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