Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gluten & My Body or How I Don't Care to Care for Me

It is said that some dogs, given the opportunity, would eat themselves to death.  Whether or not it's true, it reminds me of...Me.

A couple of months ago, I embarked on a gluten cleanse.  I know from past experiences that I just feel better without gluten in my system, but I am also a believer that this woman COULD live on bread alone.

I am of German heritage and there was always bread on the table...even if there were already doughy dumplings and starchy potatoes.

So I blame my genes, in part, though I know that is excessively whiny and pretty much a pathetic cop out.  Poor dead ancestors who cannot defend themselves!

My main symptoms besides some of the digestive sort and lots of joint pain are (yeah, besides those):  an overall muscle fatigue that is deep and depressing in every sense of that word and what I call Brain Fog, which seems pretty self-explanatory.

After about a week without gluten, I feel myself to be more awake, more alert, processing information clearly and efficiently.  After about two weeks, I have crazy energy.  Marcy knows the gluten cleanse has really kicked in when I start cleaning above and beyond the call of duty.  If I have the time and energy to clean like this, I am feeling Stupendous -- when you consider that normally, just standing at the sink to wash a few dishes causes severe lower back pain that turns me into Queen Grouch.

About a month into the gluten cleanse, I hit my Danger Zone -- otherwise known as the Land of Forgetting.

I forget how Crappy I felt.  I forget the lack of motivation, the feeling of pushing through thick mud to do the simplest things, the feeling that I am somehow inherently flawed as a human being because I don't want to do the things that I say mean the most to me.

All of that is some vague, shadowy memory and I become Stupid about myself.  I start saying things like this:  "Oh, I could have pizza once a month!  That would be fine!"

Once a month pizza is a JOKE!  It is equivalent to once a week PLUS bread, heavenly bread, and BEER!  Before you know it, in a matter of days, my entire cleanse is out the window.

I refuse to accept on some basic level that I need this special diet.  Being raised by a person who saw even a common cold as a weakness, this makes sense.  I must not be strong enough...I must not be good enough...I am a wimp, a wuss, some new-age nutritional hippie type who really only knows enough to be dangerous.  That is what some voice says in the back of my head every time I get close to taking excellent care of myself.  Care that was not taken of me as a little person.

It's why I use the term "gluten cleanse," as opposed to just saying that I am "gluten free."  That would be admitting that I am worth taking care of, that I am in need of care, that my body is more than a freaking machine.

Even while writing this, I am having a major aversion to making any sort of declaration, like "I am a gluten free chick."

No, I am still thinking that I can have a little pizza, a little beer just once a month.

I am still acting like that Dog that I mention at the beginning.

This is most definitely my internal NeglectChick, who wields the Weapon of Ill Health to keep me stuck in feeling badly about myself...oh, the webs we weave...

I will defeat her.  I have no choice in the matter, because now I know what my BlissChick needs, and in order to dance for a long time to come, I have to be healthy, inside and out.

I will move through and into this way of being one day, one week at a time.  And I know that I have all sorts of help and cheerleader chicks on my side, right?


Rachel @ Suburban Yogini said...

I have an awesome gluten free pizza dough recipe. I will try to dig it out for you.

Jen S said...

Fantastic post! I do declare myself 'gluten-free' because I have learned the effect of one meal with only a little bit of gluten - sick for days + weight gain. I have difficulty breathing, face becomes immediately flushed, rashes & hives. That is with a small amount of gluten. In a larger quantity my hand swells to 3x its size. I am allergic to wheat though and I do worry for anaphylactic shock. Thank you for this post!

Jen S said...

I also wanted to say that you are more than worth declaring that you live gluten-free. I understand the influences of our family of origin - they are very strong. But you deserve to feel good 100% of the time.

I believe that if people like you & I continue to eat gluten our quality of life will be diminished and we will live longer. I ignored the impact of gluten and the outcome was +++ excess weight that is very hard to lose & an allergy.

svasti said...

Well, you're further along the path than me. I know that bread makes me feel crappy AND gives me a fungal-like skin condition. I don't know if it's the gluten or what, but I haven't even tried to find out!

Same thing with too much dairy - gives me a stomach ache. But have I banned cheese and ice-cream from my life. Nope!

So well done on getting this far. Hopefully I will catch up eventually...

Elize said...

Great post, Christine! I'm finding it very hard to follow through with the eating choices that are right for me, and totally relate to 'forgetting how crappy feels'! Much love & strength to you- we all deserve to feel our brilliant-est every day :)

Linda-Sama said...

I have never felt better after I became wheat/gluten free. More people have gluten sensitivity than realize it, it is one of the most common food sensitivities.

becoming vegan makes me feel better still.

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

I have a friend who's got Celiac's Disease. He describes the same things as you, before he was diagnosed.

Be well. Enjoy your week.


Pam said...

Hi Christine,
I've been down the "trying to go free of the things that I think make me feel shitty" road. Thanks for being candid about your journey. At one point in my journey with this I realized that I had become excessively controlling about what I eat and started to hedge on an eating disorder. One driven by purity (rather than any direct experiences of feeling better or worse).

Just FYI I started a yoga blog a few months ago, www.fallingopen.ca/blog.html. In it I process my yoga journey and offer some critical thought about the system as a whole. It has a similar self-reflective feel as your blog so just thought I'd give you my URL to check it out if you're so inclined. Let me know what you think!

Christine Claire Reed said...

Pam! Welcome! I've added your blog to my reader and look forward to interacting. :)

Yes. Eating disorders. I think a LOT of eating "for health" is actually masked eating disorder.

That being said, I am very very careful about this because of my own history.

I never deny simply to deny. I have definite symptoms of gluten intolerance if not out and out celiacs and so this is really about attaining health as opposed to "control." :)

Carolynn said...

One word: "Switch". It's a book title by the Chip & Dan Heath and it's both incredibly informative and also written with a great sense of humour. It's available at Chapters.ca.

I don't eat as well as I should either. I love my carbohydrates, almost to the exclusion of all else. I don't eat enough protein and it shows up in the condition of my nails and a dangerously low iron level.



marzipan said...

i seriously could have WRITTEN this post. geeeez. every single thing. the epic brain fog! the dangerzone! hilariously described by the way, and absolutely anyone with a gluten intolerance was just vehemently nodding along with you. loved loved loved this post. thank you.

Jacqueline said...

Thank you so much for this post! I know that I feel much better without wheat, and can go for long stretches without it. Left to my own devices and with enough healthy alternatives I can honestly not even think about it. Quinoa, brown rice, oats, millet, polenta! But wheat is so ubiquitous in our society! Thank you for reminding me that my digestive issues, joint pain, and muscle aches are caused by my indulgences. You are much better than I (me?); I convince myself that pizza once a week is okay!!

Lisa (Mommy Mystic) said...

This was a very useful post, and the comments too, especially about the danger of starting to deny based on some IDEA of what is good/bad rather than how we actually feel...I can relate to all of this, and have been trying to make changes to my diet too, that I **know** make me feel better, but also don't want to fall into any traps of self-denial just for the sake of it...thanks for your candor and insight (as always:-)

Jennifer said...

I TOLD you, we're the same person! :/
I'm allergic to gluten, and it causes the same symptoms in me.
So what do I do? I eat it. *shaking head*

I'm also allergic to pork, beef, dairy, and cane sugar. AND I'm a diabetic.
Aside from the pork and beef (those are anaphylactic reactions!), do I avoid these poisons like the plague?

What is going on in our heads that we continue to punish ourselves so??!!

Lisa said...

For those of us with gluten intolerance, each day presents us with choices. We KNOW it's not good for our bodies and yet sometime we choose to poison ourselves anyway. It's symbolic of a much bigger picture about how we (and our culture) view health and nourishment.

I am choosing to be vegan as well as gluten-and soy-free. Some days it's just downright HARD and I feel like a FREAK. However, it is necessary to parent myself in regards to my choices because I know they benefit my Higher Self.

Along the lines of "physician heal thyself", THIS is why I became a wellness coach. I teach what I need to learn, on an ongoing basis.

I welcome your kindred presence on this journey and you have my utmost support and empathy.

Paula said...

I'm not gluten intolerant, but my boyfriend's father was. He had the Durhings Version of it that not only had the internal symptoms, but he would get little blisters all over his skin (Dermitis hepaformis -sp?).

I noticed that some of you mentioned that you don't tolerate diary well. Its because of the casien in the dairy.