Seriously, why did I not just do this long before now?
I guess I wasn’t willing to give up my favorite cereals, breads, pastas and baked goodies. It’s not like I hadn’t considered it. When it came down to it, the thought of living without these delicious foods was very unappealing. Seemed impossible, really.
The last eight days have been incredibly eye-opening.
I’ve been reading Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. Elisabeth has celiac disease and talks about how ridiculously underdiagnosed the disease is, as is gluten intolerance as a whole. This needs to change.
When doctors performed a panel of stomach tests on me over ten years ago and declared the results to be “perfectly normal” for each and every one, they finally diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Yep, good ol’ IBS – the be-all, end-all, “we have no idea what’s wrong with you” diagnosis.
This excerpt from Hasselbeck’s book speaks volumes:
What’s behind these terribly low diagnostic rates? “One of the reasons celiac disease is so grossly underdiagnosed in this country,” says Dr. Green, “is that the pharmaceutical industry has such a major role in the direction of health care here. In many countries around the world, where there are national health plans , doctors are actively encouraged to diagnose celiac disease. In this country, the pharmaceutical industry provides eighty percent of the money for medical research. It also provides a lot of money for postgraduate education, and there just aren’t any drug companies that are interested in researching celiac disease [and gluten intolerance]. There’s basically no money in it – no drug company will provide funds for the research.”
Simply put: Since there are no drugs to treat celiac disease, pharmaceutical companies stand to gain no profits from encouraging its diagnosis.
“It’s a general problem in our culture,” Dr. Weil said of these lopsided priorities, “and I think it’s both that people don’t have the information and motivation to take responsibility for their wellbeing, and that the system is economically locked into paying for interventions with drugs, not for lifestyle counseling. The whole system is dysfunctional. It’s all one big knot, and I don’t know where you begin to push. In general, we’re so locked into using pharmaceuticals to treat everything that when we come across conditions that we can’t treat with drugs, we tend to pay less attention to them.”
So what are we to do?
If you suffer from abdominal pain and discomfort that comes and goes – and is sometimes so bad that it has you lying on your bed in the fetal position clutching your abdomen – and you suspect gluten might be the cause, make an appointment with your doctor and show up to his office armed with information. Be clear that you think it could be gluten intolerance. If you’re concerned about celiac disease, make sure you tell your doctor you want a blood test and maybe even an intestinal biopsy. Above all, don’t let him shove it under the rug. Gluten intolerance sucks and NEEDS to be taken seriously
And, for Pete’s sake, don’t do what I did and put off going on a gluten-free diet for years and years! TRY IT. Like, starting NOW!
I won’t go into the nitty gritty details of it but – there are many, many foods that contain gluten that you never would have thought contained gluten! Read up on it. Make sure that you let NO gluten cross your lips. None. Nada. Zilcho. This is the only way your body will tell let you know if, indeed, it cannot handle gluten.
There is so much more information online and in books written on the topic. If you have persistent, unexplainable stomach pain please do some reading. There is much to know. And there is hope.
Now let’s get practical.
A visit to Trader Joe’s and a wonderful independent health food store today proved encouraging. When you discover that gluten does terrible things to your body, you begin to change your entire perception of food – and your trips to the grocery store change a whole lot, too.
Some of the things I bought today:
And a LOAD of produce. Naturally gluten-free food in all its delicious glory!
When you endure years of bewildering, debilitating, extremely frustrating digestive problems and then you finally feel so, so very much better, you want to help others who may be going through the same thing.
I hope this blog will do just that.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading!