Yep. I did, I’m ashamed to say. I knew better, and I did it anyhow.
At first, I conned myself into thinking a little wouldn’t matter. And you know how that goes- once you have a little, well, heck, you might as well go for broke and do what you want and have a lot, right?
And then, the really twisted part of my brain joined in and said, “It’ll be an experiment, and then I’ll know for sure one way or the other.”
Epic fail. Big time bomb.
And truly, the only one suffering is me. Go me for allowing my stupid stubbornness to get the best of me and letting myself con myself into not just falling off the wagon, but staying off the wagon.
I think this started on Thanksgiving. I “allowed” myself to have some dinner rolls, and thus, I started the fall off the gluten-free wagon.
I didn’t have any really bad effects initially. Indeed, I was flying high when my rheumatologists gave me the green light to run, and actually forbade me to stop. I started increasing my mileage and joined the Runner’s World Holiday Challenge. My mileage was good and I felt great.
I really thought, in my heart of hearts, that the worst with the diseases was behind me. How could it not be? I’d conquered the bulk of the pain; the plantar fasciitis (a kind of connective tissue) was all but resolved thanks to my Vibram Five Finger shoes, and my chronic tendinitis issues seemed to be on vacation. Systemic inflammation was down considerably, which I considered to be a major victory.
And then came Christmas week. I am pretty sure it was the combination of not napping/getting my feet up in the afternoons and the normal stress of the season that did me in. Christmas morning, I managed to crawl out of bed around 8 am and was back in by 10:30 am where I spent the rest of and entire next day.
That week, I had run 52.25 miles, and things were feeling a bit achy. In a matter of two days and a few hours, I had gained 12 lbs of fluid. Even with my continued running, I was swollen, pitting, and generally feeling like crap. This was by far the worst flare I had hit in several months. It took about a week, but the pounds dropped off.
The pain, however, remained. The first week of this month, everything was still hurting. As the pain increased, my mileage varied, as I decided to do some shorter runs to see if that would help. Stomach unease was a near constant, which meant I was doing overall a really good job staying away from the sugar cookies, knowing they would exacerbate things.
When we got the crud going around, though, the only thing I was interested in was raisin bread. And this is when the twisted part of my brain really took hold and let me fall completely off the gluten-free wagon. I mean, I was already in a lot of pain, so why bother not eating what I wanted to, right?
Shame on me. I know better.
I had nearly tricked myself into thinking I was “normal;” that I could eat “normally” and make “normal” goals and things.
Shame on me. I know better.
Part of the reason I started running eons ago was so that I *could* eat and not feel guilty. That was my reward (well, one of them) for running: the ability to eat ice cream or chocolate and not feel guilty.
As part of my research on my conditions, one theme I had run into repeatedly was the gut connection to inflammation. I’ve been tested for Celiac, and apparently there was no “intolerance.” The thing is, you don’t have to be completely intolerant, nor do you have to have an allergy to something to have it affect you and give you adverse reactions.
Yep. Sensitivities can cause all kinds of things. There is a difference between food allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerance. I’ve undergone extensive allergy testing. By this I mean a series of over 300 injections where the “bump” is measured for allergic response (you’re going to have a bump; how high the bump is determines the level of your allergy). From what I remember, wheat was not one of my allergies.
We know that the gut/intestines – the enteric or intrinsic system- has its own nervous system, which has as many neurons as the spinal cord.
Did you get that?
Let me say it again- your digestive system has its own nervous system that has about the same number of neurons as your spinal cord. How does this work? One example would be to think of someone who is clinically brain dead (has no electrical activity in the brain) and yet survives artificially, with a feeding tube etc. Did you ever think about how that works?
How the Gut’s ‘Second Brain’ Influences Mood and Well-Being is a really good article to get you started.
I’m not going to go into a lengthy lecture about anatomy and physiology, but I WILL say that what we eat is FAR more connected to how we feel and act than most people think. Conditions like ADD/ADHD and autism often respond to dietary intervention and are often exacerbated by food with certain food colorings and additives like MSG.
There is stuff in food (like wood pulp, aka cellulose) that we don’t have the ability to digest. And then we wonder why we can’t?
There is much evidence and continuing studies that show a link between gluten and autoimmune conditions and pain. Celiac and arthritis, for example, have a link. (Celiac Disease is NOT an allergy to gluten, it is an autoimmune disease; some children with wheat allergies can outgrow the allergy.) Studies show that Sjogren’s and Raynaud’s both have links to gluten.
And gluten is in all kinds of stuff- it’s not just bread; it’s not just connected to wheat, and it’s often hidden (like whey in hot dogs, casein in tuna, or MSG being called “natural flavorings”). Gluten can be found in vitamin supplements and some medications. Most grains can have gluten, so it’s not safe to say “I’ll just eat oatmeal” because there could be (and often is) cross-contamination. Wheat free does not = gluten free.
I often wonder why people are more agreeable to treating illness with artificial chemicals than they are to think about what they are eating. Is it just because processed foods are easier? (ok, I admit, this feeds into my theory of a “right now” society whereby people want things right now; easily, without having to think or work, and I believe that treating it with a pill is the route most people chose just because it’s “easy”.)
I DO think people want to take the easy route, and in some ways, I am no exception. You probably already know we don’t do a lot of processed foods and we LOVE the eggs we get from our chickens.
Gluten-free options are not abundant (nor cost-effective) where I live. And, since it’s really only me in the family that is affected, it’s hard to justify spending the $$ and having the rest of the family go gluten free. So that leaves me more or less where I started (bear with me, please, while I whine )- cutting out what I can on my own and hoping I see results.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. At this point, I’m nearly 100% sure that I’ll see results and my pain level will once again decrease. I’m going to miss my raisin bran.
If, in a few months, I start to complain about wanting to load up on breads and grains again, would y’all just poke me, please?
Thank GOODNESS I can still eat popcorn……………
**Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Don’t shoot me or try to sue me if some of this information isn’t spot on or is debunked in 50 years. I’m just a regular ‘ole person scouring the internet and researching what I can. If you have experience with any of this, PLEASE leave me a comment!