I didn't always follow a gluten-free diet! For the majority of my life, I enjoyed pasta, whole wheat bagels and all of my other favorite foods.
As a child, I was
plagued by horrible migraines that started in the first grade. I
remember those grape chewable Tylenol tablets and to this
day the smell or taste of grape juice makes me sick. Once I was older and more in tune with my body, I noticed that certain foods made me feel sick. One
of those periods was in college. In my final year of college, I was tested for Celiac Disease (CD) and my results were negative. I have a strong family history of CD, so I knew a positive result wouldn't be the end of the world.
Life continued on and I finished my dietetic internship and started graduate school. My migraines started getting out of control crazy and since I'm not a big believer in pain medicine, I wasn't comfortable taking excedrin everyday. I turned to
acupuncture and it helped reduce the number of migraines I was having but not quite enough.
My aunt suggested I try an elimination diet, so I cut out gluten. I noticed a difference! I felt so much better. I had more energy, I could think clearer, I felt less bloated. I re-introduced gluten in my diet again and it did not go well. While I don't have CD, I would say that I do have a gluten sensitvity.
What does that mean? Well, there are no tests at this time for gluten sensitivity. However, researchers at the University of Maryland
(where the original CD research began) have published very interesting
research documenting and proving that there are differences in the
immune response of people who claim to have a sensitivity. It's interesting info and we'll see what unfolds in the future.
What does that mean for me and my diet? Am I super strict? Yes, for the most part. I don't worry about cross contamination and I eat soy sauce. The line usually stops there.
what has this experience taught me? To pay attention to my body and
the way it feels after I eat certain foods. It's made me a better dietitian, because even more so than I ever have before, I think of food as medicine and every individual needing
individualized care :)