Gluten-Free Diet | Gluten Allergy |On-Again, Off-Again Gluten Free Diet | Allergy

Gluten-Free Diet, On-Again, Off-Again

by Allergy Guy

A gluten-free diet can be hard to stick to.  But for those who have a gluten allergy or celiac, it is necessary.  Eating gluten teaches you to stop again.

Addie left a long comment on the Gluten Allergy Symptoms thread which really illustrates a few things: how hard it can be to stick to a gluten free diet, why it is important to stick to it if that’s what makes you feel better, and the weird mental tricks we can play on ourselves in an attempt to convince ourselves that our bad habits are not so bad for us after-all.

Here is Addie’s story:

I haven’t felt well in years. I have had a variety of ailments that just seemed to come out of nowhere a few years ago. I felt like I was falling apart and couldn’t understand why. I suffered from heart palpitations, weight loss, extreme fatigue, weakness, an inability to focus, aches and pains, alternating diarrhea and constipation, upset stomach, acid reflux, mouth ulcers, edema, mild eczema, problematic complexion, migraines, chronic congestion and annoying post nasal drip, along with frequent sinus infections and periodic bronchitis. My friends started to think I was a hypochondriac and I, too, began to questioned whether or not it was all just in my head. I was sent from one specialist to another and the doctors couldn’t determine what was ailing me. I was finally diagnosed with thyroid disease. Incidentally, around the same time, I developed an allergy to shellfish. After receiving treatment for the thyroid disease, I did begin to feel better with respect to the fatigue, weakness and heart palpitations; however the other problems have persisted. To add to the problems, my hair has suddenly begun to thin, and at an alarming rate for a woman. The migraines have become more frequent and the congestion issues have increased, as well.

Frustrated, I recently decided to do a little research online and stumbled across celiac disease websites and message boards. What I read resonated with me. Most of the sites suggest trying a gluten-free diet for a few weeks to see if symptoms improve, so I thought I’d give it a try. I was amazed at how well I began to feel after only three weeks! I was able to breathe, was no longer constantly clearing my throat, the migraines lessened in frequency and intensity and I suddenly had energy and a spring in my step. People began commenting on how well I looked and complemented my complexion, shiny hair and improved disposition. My husband couldn’t help but notice the transformation and begged me to stay away from gluten. However, in a moment of weakness I helped myself to a big slice of my son’s birthday cake, reasoning that one slice of cake wouldn’t hurt. Hurt it did! Several hours later, I developed very painful bloating, visible and excruciating distention of the abdomen, and terrible gas and diarrhea—I suffered all night. I have never had such a reaction to properly handled and prepared food. Add to that, I became congested and suffered a migraine, as well.

I immediately went back to a gluten-free diet and stuck to it, for a week. I was determined to go back to the foods I loved, was sure I didn’t have an issue with gluten, that I simply shocked my system by completely eliminating the food and then suddenly reintroducing it. I convinced myself that all I had to do was try it again and this time I could get back to eating wheat on a regular basis, as I did before, that any initial shock would just be temporary and that I wouldn’t suffer like that again. So I dined on pasta and bread. Not only did I suffer again, but this time it was much more severe—much more painful. I seriously considered asking my husband to take me to the emergency room. I fear that if I were to try it again, I would most surely find myself in a hospital.

While I do not understand how my body could react so violently to something I until recently was ingesting daily, I know enough not to try it again without consulting with my doctor. I’d be interested in knowing if you have heard of anyone else having a previously inexperienced and sudden, violent reaction when reintroducing gluten to their diet. I was more than happy to give a gluten-free diet a try, believing there’s no harm in trying, but I never thought that once off of gluten, I wouldn’t be able to get back to consuming it without severe consequences. I’ve been gluten-free this time for two weeks now, and while I do feel better, I feel as though I have brought this gluten problem on myself somehow and at the worst time of year. Thanks for providing this thread. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

I had a similar experience, although with less severe symptoms.  In contrast with feeling well, I did notice the symptoms more than I had on an ongoing bases before first cutting out gluten.

It’s funny how if you feel fantastic after first cutting out gluten, you can convince yourself that gluten is not a problem, start eating it, and end up right back where you started.

It is worth knowing that if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease and decide to go on a gluten-free diet (highly recommended in these cases!), you will feel better and at first you will be grateful that you found the problem and that it can be fixed by avoiding gluten.  But beware the temptation to start eating gluten again!  It is like the siren call to the addict!

If you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, avoid gluten as if it were poison, because for you it is.

What are your experiences with avoiding gluten if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease?  Leave your comments below.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Valerie August 3, 2013 at 13:37

After being told by my Doctor that avoiding gluten would take away my abdominal pain, diarrhea, and general feeling of not being well, I was amazed how fast the transformation was! Alas, the down side is that when I now inadvertently ingest gluten, no matter how small a crumb, or a dash of Worcestershire, I am violently ill, within 15 minutes, in the bathroom for over an hour and much abdominal pain. The longer I go gluten free, it seems more violent the reaction when I do slip up. I hate having to eat out anywhere, or at friends, because I can almost guarantee that I will be ill.

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2 Allergy Guy August 19, 2013 at 12:02

Hi Valerie,
That is an unfortunate trade-off, feeling better but being more sensitive to gluten. With any luck that sensitivity will reduce over time. I used to wish I had your reaction: violently ill and then get it over with, rather than weeks of lingering symptoms, but who knows, maybe your reaction is worse. Anyhow, we have to live with what we’ve got.
I hope things get better for you. Perhaps you’d like to leave an update after some time.

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3 alex March 9, 2013 at 20:38

I searched for this topic because I was wondering the same thing. How is it that I can react so violently to something I used to consume on a daily basis in large amounts? I always conclude that I felt generally terrible all the time with a wide range of symptoms and widespread pain. I have always had great improvement from my CFIDS whenever I eliminate gluten. Then I slip and a full blown, painful sickness will fill my evening. I get hot and flushed and my whole body aches with what feels like lightning shocks through my arms and especially my wrists. It takes so much out of me that I have vowed this time to go gluten free permanently. If anyone out there has CFIDS or any autoimmune disorder I urge you to try eliminating gluten. You will, at the very least, experience less pain and fatigue. I never post any comments but I hope it helps.

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