Thursday, July 10, 2008

Celiac Heads Up (Or "the great big food allergy post")

I saw this article from the Globe and Mail, a primer about the basic symptoms of celiac and what to do if you have it, and thought I should share.
I don't have celiac, but end up buying a lot of products for those with celiac because I do have a serious sensitivity to wheat, and gluten-free products automatically mean they're wheat-free. I can relate to a lot of what's in the article:
"According to a 2007 survey of the Canadian Celiac Association's more than 5,000 members, the average time it took to get diagnosed was 12 years. Many respondents had consulted three or more doctors before getting their diagnosis"
"Symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, joint pain and migraines - ones typically not recognized as gut-related - are commonly reported, and the diagnosis is often anemia, stress, irritable bowel syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome."

I spent about 10 years feeling constantly sick, cutting out different foods and food products from my diet to no avail. I lost close to 20 pounds at my worst point, mostly because it was easier to feel hungry then to deal with the constant nausea and irritation after eating. I went to 3 different doctors and took 3 different tests, the last one being the endoscopy mentioned in the article. When that one was done, the gastroenterologist (aka, Mr. Specialist) asked me if I was a people-pleaser, told me I should relax, and concluded that "it was all in my head".
It was a visit to a naturopath and taking a Vega test suggested by a friend 3 months later that turned up the cause for all my problems: I have serious sensitivities to:
  • all cow dairy (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
  • wheat and some grains from the wheat family (bulgur, semolina)
  • all processed sugar
  • aspartame
  • msg
  • cola
I have milder sensitivities to a whole list of fruits, veggies, and nuts:
  • bananas
  • tomatoes
  • peanuts
  • oranges, clementines, grapefruits
  • grapes

At first, walking out of that clinic after the test, I was trying to figure out what was left to eat. That was close to 3 years ago. Now, I've gotten it fairly under control. I've found a lot of alternatives to my formerly favourite foods, and I know when I'm "cheating" and having stuff that'll upset me, so I can decide whether it's worth it or not. I don't always make the best decision: sometimes that chocolate bar looks completely irresistible in the checkout line and then feels like the worst decision ever once consumed, but at least I'm the one in control of the stupid decision I decide to make.

Moral of the story? Trust your body if your doctor isn't making any sense. You're your own best judge. If you're sick and someone tells you you're fine, find someone else to talk to. Your body will thank you.


Anonymous said...

Just a note. Wheat free and gluten free are not mutually inclusive. Gluten is a specific type of protein found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. You might be allergic to something OTHER than gluten in wheat and thus, GF eating is not going to fix your problem.

noha said...

I know that eating Wheat Free doesn't guarantee eating Gluten Free, but wouldn't the reverse be true? Since all Gluten Free stuff doesn't have wheat, wouldn't I be okay by sticking to GF? Or do you mean because I don't know specifically what in the wheat is bothering me, GF eating isn't enough for me?
I guess that's what you mean, but the problem is, I don't know what protein or element in the wheat I am allergic too, so this really is the best I can do. Thanks for the advice though.