I’ve always liked Jillian Michaels. Her book Master your Metabolism got me looking at food in a whole new way. I own several of her workout DVDs and used them regularly before my adrenal crash. I don’t always agree with her life coaching methods, but I think she has good intentions.
But yesterday I wanted to punch her face.
She was plugging her book Slim for Life in a CNN interview. Then she said there is no such thing as gluten intolerance — only “Celiac’s” which affects a small portion of the population. She clears up all those “myths” in her book. Unless you have Celiac’s you don’t need to be worrying about gluten. Gluten intolerance is just another fad.
There might be some of you out there who think the same. As a matter of fact, my old business partner had multiple food issues and an adrenal disorder. I would secretly roll my eyes every time she placed her food order. I’d make veiled comments about her “health problems.” I guess you could say that I was a lot like Jillian in my response to her plight.
Well, my friends, karma is a b*$%h! You know that old adage “Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” My diagnoses have meant that I’ve now walked in something that look a lot like my old partner’s shoes. I’m now the one at the table who needs to make sure that my food isn’t going to cause a reaction.
And yes, I said diagnoses … I’ve had every type of gluten sensitivity test out there, and they’ve all shown that I’ve got it. It isn’t just a fad diet for me — it’s very real. Eating gluten means that I’m down and out for three days. About one hour after eating gluten I get extremely tired. It’s not just an energy dip, but a crashing fatigue. I can’t function. My brain goes foggy, and I stay like that for then next 72 hours. It’s like poison to me.
Gluten gives me a leaky gut and causes my endocrine system to go haywire. Looking back, it’s likely been responsible for my uterine and breast fibroids and my miscarriage. Going forward, it could have lead to complete adrenal or thyroid failure, the heart disease that runs in my family, more hormonal female issues, and a host of autoimmune concerns.
I’m not alone. Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, estimates that about 18 million people in the US suffer from gluten intolerance. Other experts claim that it might be more, topping out at 50% of the population. Research shows that it’s a big deal, Jillian. You might not have problems with gluten, but don’t minimize the problem or call it a myth. You haven’t walked in my shoes.
I didn’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon because I wanted to drop a few pounds (although I did end up losing 12 pounds in the past year). I didn’t enjoy giving up my favorite foods — toast with butter, lasagne, deep dish Chicago-style pizza, Jimmy John’s Big Vito sub sandwich, ice cream in a cone, turkey with stuffing, sweet and sour chicken, Racine kringle, brats on big hoagie rolls. I don’t think it’s fun to interrogate my servers at every restaurant about the gluten-free selections. It wasn’t my dream to spend more time in the kitchen making food that’s safe for me to eat. I’m not a fan of paying more for my occasional gluten-free treat, and I hate that my friends and family have to worry about what I can and can’t eat.
But it’s all ends up being worth it, because now I can make it through most days without a nap. It’s amazing to be able to take my daughter to the fair without having to recover for four days. I can run around with my dog in the yard without collapsing into a tired heap. My brain is clear enough to write blog posts and see clients. I don’t spend half the month suffering from major PMS. At the end of the day, I have enough energy to be with my husband. I sleep soundly, and I feel refreshed in the morning. All because I gave into the “fad,” and I gave up gluten.
If you have fatigue, hormonal issues, bloating, achy joints, acid reflux, insomnia, blood sugar issues, headaches, environmental allergies, depression, diabetes or other autoimmune diseases, brain fog, high or low blood pressure, thyroid problems, food cravings, or frequent infections (UTI, sinus, strep, ear, etc.), or other health issues — I encourage you to do a gluten free trial. Give it up for just 2-3 weeks and see if you notice a difference. You don’t even have to “diet” and give up sugar, dairy, or any other grains. Just start with the wheat and see where it takes you.
For those of you who want proof, you can order at-home tests from Enterolab or Life Extension. These tests are NOT generally covered by insurance. You can also request an IgG-gliadin blood test through your doctor (more info on tests your doctor can run). My doctor also ran a food sensitivity test; insurance didn’t cover that one, but it was a lot cheaper through my doctor than through Life Extension. Like I said, I have had ALL the tests except the actual Celiac intestinal biopsy. Unfortunately, you have to keep consuming wheat/gluten while taking these tests.