my gluten story part 1: ‘if i never had to eat again, i’d be happy’

All of my life, I have been of small to average size for my height / age. I’ve been active throughout my life, participating in activities like competitive dance, soccer, skating and swimming ( my mom also says, “once I learned to run, I NEVER walked again” ), so I guess you could say I’ve been quite active through running too.

I had always been able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and nothing would happen to me. My weight would never fluctuate. It stayed steady in the low 120’s, which was below average for my height, age and body type, no matter what I did or didn’t do, no matter how badly or healthy I ate.

I never really needed a ton of sleep, like being tired never ruined my plans or consumed me. I really didn’t sleep near as much as my friends. I had a pretty regular sleep schedule of going to sleep at midnight and waking up at 6:30 for school ( sidenote: what high school starts class at 7:45 am!? Mine did & it was SO early! ). I didn’t sleep in until excessive hours on the weekends. I never really needed naps. I was pretty much go, go, go all day, every day. I wasn’t really affected.

I had my issues with anxiety and stress but by high school I pretty much had it all dealt with and knew what I needed to do when I felt myself getting sucked into these situations.

From the time I was born until I started university, I could do whatever I wanted. I remember after I got my license & all of my friends got their licenses, McDonald’s / Subway / Wendy’s was the go-to spot for lunch EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I’m not joking you when I say I ate either a footlong sub from Subway or a chicken burger from McD’s or Wendy’s every day at lunch and didn’t think twice about it. I would eat pastas and sandwiches everyday. I’d eat noodles with dinner every night. Garlic bread? Yes please, I’d take seconds ( thirds??? ). Oreos were my favourite treat and Subway cookies were my obsession.

Looking back on it, I’m not proud of the way I was eating, but I was young and stayed the same weight and didn’t get acne. Nothing happened, so I really didn’t care at that point in my life.

Nobody knew how / why. My dad would make fun of me for the random ocassion I got a rogue pimple but that was hardly ever. I noticed that some of my friends ( and a lot of people around school ) were gaining weight, presumably from the mass amounts of McDonald’s we were all consuming but it wasn’t affecting me so I didn’t really spend much time worrying about it.

I stopped dance and soccer when I got a job at a fast-food Chinese restaurant and let me tell ya, my eating went from bad to worse. Chicken balls and egg rolls were an every night thing. We got free meals and could take food home at the end of the night. I’m talking gluten covered, gluten filled food allllll the time & I never felt sick, bloated, had any acne, experienced heightened anxiety, had pimples, nothing.

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In my first year of university is when it all went downhill. I was obviously really stressed and anxious about starting a new school. University scared the hell out of me and I had never really experienced a high workload in school. I’d never struggled in school.

My junior high and high school didn’t demand much out of students and I excelled in advanced classes for my first two years of high school so my last year I literally took like film and video, yoga, leadership, political science… I took the easy way out which really didn’t help me for my first year of university.

I started feeling really run down and exhausted ALL the freakin’ time. I was getting pimples what seemed like all the freakin’ time. I felt sick and bloated no matter what I was doing. I would literally go days without going to the bathroom ( TMI? sorry ’bout it, just being real ). My anxiety was at an all-time high and I wanted to spend my days sleeping and not eating.

For a while I remember trying to convince myself that I was just stressed and I needed to suck it up & I’d get over it. But when it persisted for months on end, that’s when I started to take it a little more serious.

I remember saying to my mom over & over: “if I didn’t have to eat ever again, I’d be the happiest person alive”. After this happened, she started to take me pretty serious too.

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I had countless doctor appointments and had bloodwork all the time. I was checked for low iron, B12 deficiency, thyroid, I don’t even know what else. I just remember one bloodwork paper basically had a checkmark next to everything and I had to have a TON of blood taken. I was getting tested for every deficiency / disease / whatever that existed & nothing would come back and be super out of the ordinary. Sure, my iron was lower but as soon as I took iron pills, that went up but I was still experiencing the same discomfort living. Sure, I have a slight B12 deficiency but that’s nothing a vitamin can’t “cure”.

I was then told to start making a food diary complete with what I ate, when I ate, how I felt when I was eating, how I felt after I ate, how I felt basically 24/7, when I went to the washroom, how much I was peeing a day, what I drank, literally everything I did / felt, I had to document for a few weeks straight.

I noticed patterns after looking at my food diary and so did my doctor. She told me to stay off dairy and gluten for 2 weeks, then eat only dairy for 2 weeks and then eat only gluten for 2 weeks. During the 2 weeks that I was off both, I felt fine. The week I only ate dairy, I felt fine ( experienced some bloating but not near as much, I was way more regular and I noticed that I didn’t feel as tired ). The week I went back to eating gluten after not having it for a month straight, I just about died. I didn’t even make it a full 2 weeks.

I booked an appointment right away, had bloodwork done and this time they tested for a gluten sensitivity and there it was. 

She said that I could go on and have further testing done but once I found out one of those tests involved a camera going down my throat and a piece of my stomach coming up through my mouth so they could test it… UM NO THX. <<< my bloodwork for gluten sensitivity was high but not high enough that she thought it could be celiac or anything super severe ( yet ) as I can still it gluten on ocassion and not experience tremendous sickness and pain.

I decided to suck it up and accept the fact that I had to kiss goodbye my nights of excessive garlic bread, bowls on bowls of pasta, pizza, burgers and my very favourite, Tim Horton’s bagels and become gluten free…

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I’m going to write more about the last few years eating gluten free in an upcoming post and share some of my favourite tips + tricks, plus recipes! I really am passionate about being gluten free and am always reading as many books as I can and researching it 24/7 to stay on top of it and feel the best that I can.

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