The difference is a sharp mind and a zest for life.
Several years ago I began to experiment with reducing gluten in my diet after having tested positive for the gene that predisposes me to gluten allergy. My doctor and I were trying to figure out why, along with my symptoms of fogginess, malaise, ADD and gastric upset, I was severely malnourished and anemic while eating plenty of fresh and nutritious foods. Given my genetic diagnosis and symptoms, she suggested that I cut out gluten to see how I feel.
Without sending me for further diagnostics right away, this set me on the path of yo-yo’ing between the occasional gluten “treat”, feeling terrible and feeling better on repeat. Because I of course didn’t want to quit gluten altogether without being explicitly instructed to!
Eating only occasional gluten provided the contrast that allowed me to notice that sometimes gluten very obviously made me feel sluggish, lathargic or caused immediate digestive upset. After a couple years of this, with my blood work stubbornly unimproved and my other symptoms still giving me grief, I decided to go ahead and go cold turkey.
After mentally committing to the idea, my little addicted ego gripped and rebelled for at least a week by eating a pastry a day…
when I was finally feeling so crappy that I could barely get out of bed, I quit.
After 3 days I began to feel an obvious shift. I was suddenly waking up earlier and noticed that I was better able to stay focused and AWAKE while I read. That’s right my ADD/ ADHD, what-have-you, got so bad on gluten that after running circles re-reading a sentence or paragraph, I would become so exhausted it would put me to sleep.
Remarkably at just 8 days of being 100% gluten free I was reading 30 pages per hour with perfect clarity and sharpness.
I was getting up way before my alarm, averaging about 6:30 am, where before I couldn’t get out of bed before 8:30, and only sluggishly at that. My digestion improved and I felt an overall sense of well being.
There is a chance that the speed of my recovery was in part due to the fact that I was only exposed to small amounts of gluten a couple times per week prior to complete abstinence, but if you have an allergy you’ll experience a dramatic difference within days as compared to your own point of reference.
Part of the point here is that gluten is very persistent
Even if you don’t eat much of it, perpetually dosing yourself every couple of days, you will continue to feel its negative effects. Just one bite of glutenous bread will result in gluten antibodies that stay in your body for three to four months. The effects of a glutenous food may be felt right away, or up to three days later. Thrusting you into a constant guessing game of which food upset your stomach, caused this symptom or that.
If you suffer from a combination of depression, lethargy, brain fog and sluggish digestion
And you suspect that you may have a gluten allergy, cut it out of your diet for just one week to see if you notice any improvement. If you do, add it right back into your diet and get started with the complete battery of diagnostics before going gluten free.
Don’t miss the opportunity to have the diagnostics done at the beginning of your journey, but beware that both the antibody blood test and the duodenum biopsy have been shown to only result with 50% accuracy. If you have a strong feeling that gluten may be your issue but your first blood test comes back negative, you might want to have several rounds to rule out any false-negatives.
Once you’ve completed your diagnostics and choose to go gluten free, you’ll likely drop any extra bloat or weight, you’ll experience mental clarity and be able reclaim your zest for life! Seriously, sounds cliche, but it’s so true. So much is at stake, and it’s clear as day once you’re out of the fog.