In mid-June I embarked on a 3-week gluten-free trial. Previously I had asked my endocrinologist whether she thought a gluten-free diet might help with my clustered autoimmune issues. She surprised me by suggesting that I give it a try.
Although I began the trial doubting that GF would make a difference in my health, I wholeheartedly committed to following the diet strictly for 3 weeks. One week into the diet I posted an update that I didn’t think it was having any effect on how I felt or the appearance of my inflammatory skin problem. At the end of 3 weeks, my opinion had not changed.
I don’t think that my eating plan for those weeks would have been a sustainable diet for the rest of my life. For the most part I followed my normal lowish-carb diet and just avoided bread, crackers, and other no-no foods. My only GF-adapted food was a bread that was edible when toasted and slathered in peanut butter, but disgusting otherwise. I know that there are wonderful GF recipes and foods out there, but I didn’t bother looking for them.
I am relieved that gluten-free is not part of my future. Initially it made following a low-carb diet easier because no cheating was allowed. Over the long run it would have been complicated because many wheat substitutes are things like tapioca and rice that are not kind to blood glucose levels. Similarly many healthy substitutes require a lot more interest in planning, chopping, and cooking than I possess.
In my opinion the gluten-free world is a continuum with those medically diagnosed with celiac disease on one end and faddists who insist on a gluten-free entree before emptying the bread basket on the other end. In between are people with varying degrees of gluten sensitivity and differing opinions about the value of a gluten-free diet. If you absolutely require GF due to celiac or if you just think it makes you feel better, then go for it. I have no reason to doubt you or judge your decisions. I know a couple of people who definitely feel better avoiding gluten-containing foods and I’m glad they have found something that improves their health.
On Monday I was interested to read a blogpost about a gluten-free trial by another person with Type 1 diabetes. Sarah of Coffee & Insulin had not felt well for months and tests for celiac, gastroparesis, and other ailments had come up negative. Responding to Sarah’s frustration at getting no answers, her doctor encouraged her to “Experiment. Only you know how you feel. A patient knows their body far better than a doctor does.” One week into her GF trial, Sarah felt immeasurably better and plans to continue on the diet.
Was Sarah’s trial a success and mine a failure? Absolutely not. We both experimented and happened to get different results. I hope that she continues to feel better on a gluten-free diet and I am glad to not add more dietary restrictions to my life. In some ways I think that the biggest win from this whole thing is that both Sarah and I have doctors who were willing to admit that medical science doesn’t have all of the answers and that patient experience and opinions have validity. Sounds like a win-win for patient empowerment.
Previous posts pertaining to my GF trial:
Happy for you!
It is a tough diet for sure, you really don’t know until you try it. My husband’s gastro doc encouraged him to try it even thought testing came back negative for celiac. It was very stressful for me trying to avoid cross contamination in a mixed household. I was very happy when my husband agreed after 6 months that he was going to try going off of it. His symptoms hadn’t improved much at all. I was making flat bread for him, etc. Because the flours used are higher glycemic, it is tougher to do the diet with diabetes and celiac. I’m sure we would have gotten better at it, but he went to another gastro doc and was diagnosed with IBS, which in his case is easily treated with probiotics and fiber.
I had forgotten that you dealt with trying to cook GF for so long and how fortunate your husband finally got the correct diagnosis.
Great view on things, and I’m glad you at least got an answer (even if not a solution) there.
Laddie, Part of me is sorry that this didn’t work for you, if only because the inflammatory issues still remain. That being said, is there perhaps another type of diet that you could investigate that focuses on anti-inflammatory foods? (I know that Dr. Weil touts something like this, but I haven’t investigated it myself…)
I’ve looked at Dr. Weil and got the pyramid link from your blogpost a while back. I started reading his book but never got totally convinced by his writing. But I’ve been meaning to go back to it and study it more.
Laddie, I like your last paragraph so much. It really speaks to how there’s no bad data, only knowledge waiting for us. Thanks for sharing your experience.
I’m glad you don’t have to go gluten-free. It’s a bummer. Hope you find your solution and feel better soon!