I’ve been gluten-free for over 3 years now.
It originally started as a bit of a random test. Within about 3 months of moving into my own place, I started to get fairly bad eczema. It continued to get worse and worse and I had no idea why. Eventually, it got to the point where I dreaded bathing because my skin would be so irritated, dry and painful afterwards. The only thing that helped even a little was slathering my body in petroleum jelly immediately after I got out of the shower – and even that was only helped a little.
I went to see my doctor and she said that there wasn’t much I could do about it. I have asthma and eczema is often present in people with asthma. She couldn’t explain why it was getting so bad, but prescribed me some steroid creams and sent me on my way.
Refusing to “just deal with it”, I decided to start doing as much research as I could on the subject. One thing I kept seeing over and over again was the link between gluten and eczema. Figuring it couldn’t possibly make it any worse, I decided to cut all gluten from my diet. Within 1 week my eczema had almost completely cleared up. Within 1 month I could shower without pain and needed only the smallest amount of moisturizer to keep my skin happy.
Looking back on it, it all makes sense. When I moved out on my own, the amount of gluten I ate sky rocketed. Oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pizza or pasta for dinner. It was easy and, more importantly to someone who’s just moved out on her own, cheap. I overloaded my body and it couldn’t handle it. About a month into my new diet, I also found out my aunt and 2 uncles were Celiac growing up. No wonder my body couldn’t handle all that gluten – celiac disease and gluten intolerance is hereditary!
I still cheat every now and then. Since I’m gluten intolerant – and not flat-out allergic – it doesn’t affect me much if I have a little here or there. For example, I’ll have soy sauce (which has some wheat in it) with my sushi, and don’t feel any negative affects from it. I’m scared if I cut it out completely, my body will lose any small ability it has to process it and I won’t be able to tolerate it at all in the future. My rule is not to eat anything that is obviously filled with gluten – so no breads, cakes, pastas, etc. Sauces or things with a tiny amount of gluten I allow in small portions now and again.
Sometimes, it makes it harder to stick to a healthy diet since there are a lot of healthy things I can’t have – like whole grain bread. Other times, it makes it easier. It’s far easier to pass up pastries, cakes and cookies by saying “I can’t eat gluten” than by trying to explain you’re watching your weight. The usual reaction I get is “omg I’m so sorry!” followed by a whisking away of whatever tempting treat was offered. Temptation gone.
It still amazes me how many people live with food allergies and intolerances without actually knowing about them. I highly recommend doing your research if there is something you feel isn’t right with your body, especially since diet can change your body and the way you feel so drastically… naturally! I can’t even imagine what life would be like now if I hadn’t cut gluten from my diet.