after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, i was on a mission to help my pain. i started at the most basic place i knew, diet & exercise. in 2006, after much research of the possible benefits of cutting out gluten, i began a gluten-free diet. i found that it did alleviate some of my stiffness & joint/muscle aches. also much to my surprised helped reduce the constant stomach bloating and constipation i experienced due to my chronic (irritable bowel syndrome) IBS. however, after getting married in 2007, i found it to be challenging to keep up with this restrictive diet, while feeding my new husband. so gradually i got back on gluten.
in the meantime i was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. knowing we wanted to have kids and therefore wanting to avoid the normal ‘hard-core’ RA meds they had suggested, i took another look at my diet. i remember i experienced a significant amount of relief when i eliminated gluten from my diet. but being the lover of food i am and remembering it was not very fun, i drug my heels. but finally i committed to eliminating gluten again.
i found a lot of relief from my gluten-free diet, however from time to time i would ‘cheat’, if it was something i really loved or i didn’t want to inconvience others i would indulge and deal with the inflammation & flare-up when they came, and without fail they came.
for a couple years one of my best friends who happened to be a celiac kept bugging me to go get scoped, she was certain i had more than an intolerance to gluten. the gastrologist had tested my antibodies through a blood test but it came up as negative for celiacs disease & i did not display the ‘typical’ symptoms of a celiac disease, like diarrhea (actually constipation was always my challenge). although, after a visit to the gastrologist he suggested we do a biopsy because often the blood test gives a ‘false-negative’.
in 2012 i had a biopsy taken of my small intestine. and sure enough, i was positive for celiacs disease.
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms.
When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats.
Celiac disease is both a disease of malabsorption—meaning nutrients are not absorbed properly—and an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. Celiac disease is genetic, meaning it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered—or becomes active for the first time—after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress. (credit)
this didn’t mean too much change to my diet except that i would no longer be able to ‘cheat’ and i would make 100% sure i was not getting any gluten in my diet. little things like dressings, licorice, soy sauce, etc i had not paid as much attention to. i began double checking labels. seriously the weirdest things can have gluten in them. now it is no longer a choice but rather just another ‘new-norms’ for me.