Sunday, January 29, 2012

How My Health (and Body) Has Changed Since Going Gluten-Free

When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, it was not a surprise. My brother is also celiac (actually, both of them are), and has been living gluten-free for three years. I knew this was genetic. However, I didn't have symptoms. My choice in getting tested yearly was not due to intestinal distress or issues, but instead because of my brother's celiac disease. I had a blood test every year, and this was the first year it came back positive. As a result, I had an endoscopy and biopsy to confirm.

I read a lot of forums where people say how they feel SO much better since going gluten-free, and that they no longer have stomachaches and pains. I wish I could say the same. I suffer from abdominal migraines (related to my own chronic migraines) and have been getting treatment for them from both neurologists and gastroenterologists, but they are unrelated to my celiac disease. I keep a dutiful journal of my migraines, and being gluten-free has not affected their frequency. I was secretly hoping that gluten was triggering these migraines, but alas, it is not the case. Maybe things will change as I am gluten free for a longer period of time -- one can always hope!

However, while I don't feel a huge difference in my digestive system and intestines, I have had overall health improvement. For the past three years, I've had severe eczema on my legs that two dermatologists have been unable to treat. I was at the point where I would wake up with my legs bleeding from scratching in my sleep. I was on the strongest prescription steroid cream available, and wrapping my legs in Saran Wrap after coating them before bed. I've long since given up on trying to treat it -- nothing seemed to make it go away completely. Now, after going gluten-free? My eczema has gone from bloody and scaly broken skin to pale pink healing skin, and it no longer itches.

I also feel like I have tons more energy. I just wasn't digesting my food properly, and not reaping the benefits of the nutrition. Now that I'm digesting food properly, I am more alert and energetic all day. With this energy, I have been more motivated to exercise and work out.

Best of all? I've lost two inches on my waist. I haven't lost any weight or body mass, but I didn't realize that the gluten was bloating my midsection. I am a fairly skinny person, but I always had an oddly large waist that I would hide under empire-waist shirts and dresses -- I chalked it up to being apple-shaped. Since going gluten-free, I've noticed (and others have too) that my natural waist has shrunk. My apple shape has gone to a more feminine pear shape, and it's pretty awesome.

So if you have celiac disease and no symptoms, don't feel like giving up gluten won't change how you feel. It may improve your health in unexpected ways.

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