Friday, April 26, 2013

Perils of a Restricted Diet

I've mentioned in my last post how I've been having some stomach problems. I feel I have had stomach problems on and off for a majority of my life. No one could ever get to the bottom of it. I've had ultrasounds and blood tests and nothing has ever come out as "I have *blank*." This is incredibly frustrating because it is trial and error at my well-being's expense. I'm did AdvoCare's 24 Day Challenge in February and I felt so fantastic. My tummy that had been in perpetual bloat-mode was flat and I could see abdominal muscles that I never could before no matter how much I worked out and ate right. After the challenge I started incorporating some of the healthy foods that I didn't eat in the challenge back into my diet. I had instant pain and bloat and looked as if I could be in the early stages of pregnancy! What gives?! I went back and thought about the things I added back into my diet that I wasn't eating during challenge. It came down to a couple of things: lactose and gluten. This is a nightmare for me! I love bread, milk and cheese! I think you would be shocked how many things actually have milk products and gluten in them.

After coming back from vacation which was mostly spent with nasty stomach pain, I got back into my new normal way of eating where I eat mostly veggies, protein, and fruit. Within two days, the inflammation in my stomach disappeared and my abs reappeared. So bizarre! Last night in a moment of weakness, I ordered a lemon pound cake slice to share with my friend. I knew I shouldn't but I caught myself thinking that something so small couldn't affect me that bad, right? One time isn't a big deal...WRONG! On the car ride home I could feel the pain coming on and my stomach starting to inflate like a balloon. Then I was thinking, "Why do I do this to myself? Do I really have such little willpower that I suffer so greatly?" After talking with my husband about it, I decided to do some research online about my symptoms. My top two probable diagnosis'? Celiac disease and lactose intolerance--no surprise there. Let's talk about celiac disease for a moment.

I'm not going to use the correct terminology because I don't remember it or understand it, but here is my take on it: there are things in your small intestine that take out nutrients from food. If you have celiac disease, gluten attacks them and they work improperly, letting valuable nutrients pass through. This can lead to malnutrition. It can also be a factor for some intestinal cancers. Interestingly enough, it can also lead to lactose intolerance until the thingys in the small intestine repair themselves in the absence of glucose. This can take a few weeks to a few years! Yikes! At least there may be cheese in my future again. Another interesting tidbit that makes me believe that this is the correct diagnosis for me is that it can go hand in hand with thyroid disease, which I have. Ugh! I will get a blood test at some point to confirm, but even my husband who is a physician thinks it is celiac disease.  There is no cure for celiac disease and the only thing that happens is you take gluten out of your diet.  I'm in no rush to get tested to see if I have the disease when I know there's nothing really to be done and I feel better by just taking out the gluten in my diet.

Why did I share this? Because until I had cleaned my body out and added back food, I didn't realize how uncomfortable I had been living every day. I didn't know. I chalked up all stomach problems up to being normal and now I know better. Maybe some of you are having similar problems that you should look into.

After a few distraught moments last night as I thought of all the things I shouldn't eat anymore, I thought of a couple of things which you can read in the pictures I posted.  My family has a history of all sorts of stomach problems, heart problems, cancer, and other health problems.  I always joke that I'm a genetic nightmare when it comes to health.  Knowing these things about my family and about my own health, it just pushes me to be as healthy as I can be.  I want to make sure that I'm around to watch my grand kids grow up someday.  I will not survive this life, I will THRIVE  in this life.  Who is in your life that you can picture right now that will drive you to give yourself the best chance to be there for them?  Why not choose health?  Be an example!  When I'm 80, I want to still be asked by the kids to jump on the trampoline because I can.  My role model for this is my grandma who is in her 80s and does a college exercise class, walks the mall, does her own gardening and painting, and eats primarily real, unprocessed food.  I often joke that Grandma will outlive us all!

I hoped to have helped someone out with my babble. If you have any great gluten free and lactose free recipes, let me know! To my family and friends, I apologize ahead of time for being a total party pooper at dinners and restaurants in the future.

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