Going gluten-free ended two years of agony

I’m one of those individuals who doesn’t eat gluten, but who doesn’t have celiac disease.

You probably know someone like me. Maybe you’ve been a bit skeptical about her situation the last time you were at a potluck together, and her eating requirements seemed annoying.

In case it helps spread a little understanding around, I thought I’d be brave and share what happened to me, and why I eat G-free.

My story starts when I was pregnant with my daughter. Like many expectant moms, I had an upset stomach and a digestive system that forgot how to be normal. Unfortunately, those problems didn’t go away after delivery. They got worse.

Some days, my stomach hurt so much that I couldn’t button my jeans. Then I developed a weird rash. The worst part was when my hands got so swollen, I couldn’t wear my wedding ring.

I lived like that for two years. It was long enough for me to understand how chronic pain can really change your personality and outlook on life.

I didn’t share what was happening to me with many people because it felt too embarrassing. Who wants to talk about the bathroom? It was really hard to stay positive and not get depressed.

During this time, I saw a lot of excellent doctors who ran a lot of tests. I did not have celiac disease. My rash was not contagious. After that, there were no conclusive answers.

So I tried to help myself with diet. I learned to cook paleo, vegan, macrobiotic, high-fiber, low-fiber, whole foods, no food; you name it, I tried it. I also talked my husband into buying a Vitamix, and we started making green smoothies.

But no matter what eating style I was experimenting with, I always started each morning with a bowl of Grape Nuts. Cereal was my comfort food.

Finally, the dreaded acronym “IBS” was being mentioned. For my 33rd birthday I was headed to a well-respected GI doctor to discuss a colonoscopy.

I called a friend with Crohn’s disease for advice, because I was absolutely freaking out.

“Have you tried eliminating gluten?” she asked me.

“No. Who am I, Gwyneth Paltrow?” I answered.

But I was so desperate I gave her suggestion a try.

Three days after going gluten-free I was feeling 80 percent better. A week later my rash disappeared, my rings fit and my jeans didn’t hurt.

The further away from gluten I got, the more my health improved.

I cannot explain any of this.

But in the past two years of being gluten-free, the few times I’ve accidentally been “glutenized,” all my symptoms have returned.

That’s why I know that gluten intolerance is a real thing. It’s annoying, and there aren’t enough answers, but at least there is a simple solution.

It turns out, I don’t miss Grape Nuts at all.

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

More in Life

How did 300 feathers get stuck in that old utility pole?

Artful adornment in Everett is the creation of a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Herb Alpert aims to uplift the world in two recent albums

The Tijuana Brass bandleader releases a Christmas record and an album of covers.

Slick new V6 engine, safety updates boost Nissan Pathfinder

The SUV’s extensive redesign boosts towing capacity and adds driver assistance technology.

Prioritizing permanence and putting down roots

Adapted from a recent online discussion. Dear Carolyn: I’m at a loss… Continue reading

Foo Fighters bounce back with new album ‘Concrete and Gold’

Foo Fighters, “Concrete and Gold”: Can you hate the Foo Fighters? Not… Continue reading

Taking a service dog on the trail

Tenley Lozano hikes with her service dog, Elu. They have section-hiked the… Continue reading

‘Fixer Upper’ couple say they’re ending popular HGTV show

Chip and Joanna Gaines says season beginning in November will be the last one.

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Most Read