I am certain there are some people who are probably pretty tired of hearing about my latest dietary pursuits, I believe to them it seems that I am always “trying something new” (i.e., gluten-intolerance change to gluten-free and paleo) I understand that. I am one of those people who is constantly on the go and trying to re-create myself in some sort of way. I am an artist by trade (seriously, I went to a private art school for college) and my brain thinks creatively, its hard for me to sit still. My diet and health though, that’s different.
It occurred to me recently, after being gluten-free for the last… geez, closing in on closer to two years-ish, that many people (in real life, not online) feel that my changes for my diet are spurred by choice. To some degree that is true. However, I choose to change my diet because I suffer from a number of very serious medical issues and my medical treatment is unsuccessful. Since I was in my early twenties I started to experience a host of various odd medical maladies from Bells Palsy at 20 years old, to my first pregnancies ending in a preterm delivery at 25 weeks with unknown cause. Before my second pregnancy I had a miscarriage, and my second pregnancy was a battle of preterm labor and illness, resulting in a full term birth after 26 weeks of bed rest. After my second child I had another miscarriage. Last year I started showing signs of Raynaud’s Disease, a condition where parts of your body like fingers and toes react to cold temperature and stress. Then there are the migraines and with them all the other issues that came. I suffer from Hemiplegic Migraines, a condition that causes stroke-like symptoms. At times, I have had issues of paralysis on my right side.
These medical issues are strange and scattered. I have talked to a number of general practitioners about them and usually I see shrugged shoulders. At best, I have been referred to specialist for treatment and testing. I have been seen at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and had so much blood taken from me I had to wait for my flipping platelets to repopulate me. To what answer? Nothing. But ya know what? There is something wrong, I just have no diagnosis.
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, 40% of people with an undiagnosed Autoimmune Disease are told before diagnosis that they are overly concerned about their health or they are over stressed or even possibly hypochondriacs. According the AARDA, one in five Americans suffer from an Autoimmune Disease, one-third of those are women. Most patients go through years and years of testing, doctors and speculation before ever getting a proper diagnosis.
When I decided to start gluten-free, it was to see if it would help my son who is Autistic. My kiddo did amazing on it, of course I realized that he indeed showed classic signs of gluten-intolerance (hindsight). Of course to be clear here, I don’t believe that a GF diet is a Autism cure, nor do I think Autism NEEDS a cure. I love my kiddo the way he is, but being GF for him means he is not refluxing, he has lost the dark circles under his eyes, his ADHD is all but gone (unmedicated!) and his sensory issues are much calmer. For me- I lost weight, I got healthier, therefore I must be doing it because I look better. No. I am gluten-free because I realized, I am gluten-intolerant. If I eat gluten, I become ill. I have days of chronic fatigue and migraines with vertigo and neuropathy. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. This is why I am gluten-free. It is not a fad, it is not a weight loss measure. I changed my diet because I needed to help myself.
There are very few things that we have complete control over, and if you have an Autoimmune Disease, you certainly do not have control over that. However, what you do have control over is what you put into your body. A neurologist, pulmonologist or other specialist may not recommend dietary changes. You can seek the advice of naturopaths and research for yourself and ask your medical provider questions. Talk to a nutritionist or naturopath about the best way to help your body heal, there may be a better way. Food can kill you, but it can also heal you if you let it.
For more information about Autoimmune Disease and how to work with your doctors to help you get the best care you need to feel your best visit the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.