Going purely gluten-free changed my life. It all started with an elimination diet, and five years later, has become the inspiration for my work as a baker, entrepreneur, spokesperson and consultant, helping others claim their most vibrant and delicious life by going gluten-free.
A family trip to Mexico and a casual conversation on the beach with another vacationer was the catalyst to the biggest change I have made in my life. I met Alison St. Sure that day, a great woman and mother living with celiac disease. When she explained how she felt when she accidentally ate gluten, I had to admit to myself that lovely day on the beach that I needed to finally acknowledge my own symptoms and dig deeper into my health.
After years of dealing with flu-like symptoms and trying to hide it, ignore it and cover it up, I went to see a specialist, a gastroenterologist, and almost wept in his office. I was losing weight, I was tired, I had a stabbing pain in my belly, and digestive issues. My eyelids were often red and allergic looking and I was moody. I could not imagine that it could be gluten, because I ate so little gluten—just a bite of my son’s pasta, a taste of my daughter’s honey-smothered bagel, or leftover bites of Chinese chicken. I was not a big refined carbohydrates eater—in fact, I was, and still am, a big believer in eating clean, lean and real, simple food. So, the possibility that gluten was sneaking into what little I was eating and could be making me sick ... well, it just didn’t seem likely.
The doctor called me into his office and told me that all of the blood work and reports were negative. I did not have bacterial or viral infections, and I didn’t have celiac disease. He recommended an elimination diet to see whether I was allergic or intolerant to something that I was eating. He told me to go two weeks without eating dairy, soy, or gluten. I was determined to feel better, so I did it. Within three days of eliminating dairy, soy, and gluten, I felt 75% better. Eventually, I reintroduced dairy to my diet and then added soy. Still feeling better all of the time! And then, I added the gluten. It was clear, gluten made me feel sick. That changed my life; I became a “warrior” for my health. When I freed myself of the inflaming foods that I am intolerant to, I gained the energy, vitality and confidence to take care of the rest of my life. I knew then, and have never wavered since, that I have gluten sensitivity. I have met so many people who have different levels of sensitivity to gluten and I am always inspired by the stories they tell of feeling so much stronger, energetic and sharper throughout the day after they gave up gluten.
I have embraced this challenge, even learned how to bake amazing treats, opened a business about gluten-free living and now, I am co-branding a line of gluten-free cookies and bars with Whole Foods for national distribution.
I guess one of the greatest lessons I have learned, is that we need to listen to our bodies, our intrinsic knowledge, honor and follow that guidance and then, enjoy the unfolding!