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My journey into Celiac diagnosis

Wheat is the third most produced cereal crop

Wheat is the third most produced cereal crop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the story of my experiences, symptoms, uncertainty and eventual diagnosis as a Coeliac.

I offer this as a starting point for those who have recently come to this select group ( 1 in 100 in Australia-so not that exclusive!)

As well as my story, it is a collection of books, magazines, organisations, on-line help, resources, some free and some you will need to pay for.

I do not suggest that any or all is better than any other, but it is merely a collection of things I have found along the way that have been helpful. Some I wish I had discovered earlier, but that is life, and we do the best with the information we have at hand at the time.

My journey down this path started as a child, when like many schoolchildren in primary school during the 1950’s, we were encouraged (read forced, as those of you who went through this daily ritual will understand) to drink a small bottle of milk each morning. The “milk monitors” brought the crates of milk next to our classroom, and we all filed out and were watched to make sure we had drunk every last drop. Usually the crates of little bottles of milk had been sitting in the sun, and so had thick cream-like substance on the top, once you peeled back the foil tops. Every morning we had to drink this little bottle, and every morning I threw up. What a wonderful way to start each day-something to really look forward to!

This was of course implemented by the Government of the day, to make up for all the deficiencies South Australian children were suffering due to the shortages and rationing during the war years. Seemed like a logical and medically sound idea. It also just happened to solve the problem of oversupply of milk in the dairy industry at the time, so a win-win for all concerned.

Except of course if you happened to be lactose intolerant, which they hadn’t actually discovered at this stage, so no amount of pleading or letters from parents could escape the dreaded bottle of milk.

Now, of course, they know better, so I and many others like me, battled our way through this period in our schooldays, longing for high school and the end of the milk torture.

I did not medically discover my intolerance until my son was born severely lactose intolerant and was placed on a special formula. I was tested as well, and all of my previous issues with milk and dairy foods suddenly were explained. I had never drunk milk, after the school-days fiasco and the smell actually turned my stomach, so I had virtually eliminated most dairy products without knowing why. Yoghurt I liked, as long as they were not sweet and had fruit in them to improve the taste.

I had also, as a child, decided that I did not like what bread did to me, as it usually made my stomach bloat up. Through the teenage years, the last thing that you want is to look fat in the stomach-doesn’t go well with bikinis. So I had eliminated this from my diet as well.

After problems during my pregnancies, including miscarriages, I found I could not loose weight and I was looking as though I was 9 months pregnant all the time.

My doctor put me on a diet which was basically water crackers, cheese,yoghurt, large quantities of fruit, vegetables and lots of healthy wholegrain bread as well as meat and fish.

Not only did it make me worse, I actually put on weight and was more bloated than ever.

Now I know that the gluten, lactose and fructose was destroying my internals, but at the time it seemed a logical path to take.

The problem with gluten intolerance is that the symptoms vary so much from person to person that it is difficult to pin point that this is the cause. The testing is improving all the time, so that is helping, but you do need a doctor who is understanding and doesn’t tell you that it is all in your head.

So many other fellow coeliac sufferers have been diagnosed with depression and given anti depression medication.

“It’s all in your head” is a common diagnosis, so it is a relief for many sufferers to be finally told they have a medical problem, and it has a name. Of course we now know that depression is only one of the diseases caused by  gluten intolerance, others being osteoporosis and calcium deficiencies, iron deficiencies, and weight loss or weight gain, depending on how your individual body reacts to the enemy gluten.

This is because the gluten causes a severe allergic reaction in the small intestine and causes the finger-like projections ( the villi) to atrophy and die. Their job is to catch the nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food before it is passed into the bowel, but with gluten intolerance they actually lie down in the intestine, as they are dying, instead of standing up. This means no vital vitamins and minerals are absorbed and so deficiencies are the result.

It also means that food passes into the bowel with a lot of undigested material and this causes the bloating, wind, and sometimes terrible pain.

Biopsy of small bowel showing coeliac disease ...

Biopsy of small bowel showing coeliac disease manifested by blunting of villi, crypt hyperplasia, and lymphocyte infiltration of crypts, consistent with Marsh classification III. Released into public domain on permission of patient. — Samir धर्म 11:23, 13 August 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other symptoms to watch out for are :

  • a lack of energy after eating , feeling very tired.
  • Irritability after eating
  • a foggy mind-unable to concentrate
  • headache-usually 30 minutes or 1 hour after eating
  • numbness or tingling in your extremities
  • joint pain
  • diarrhea, wind, gas,stomach pain, which can be excruciating and feel like appendicitis
  • heartburn-which can be so severe that symptoms mimic a heart attack.
  • depression, mood changes
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • rashes or eczema
  • strong stomach cramps during menstrual periods or irregular periods

Of course not everyone will experience all of these symptoms and the degree of suffering will vary from person to person.

I will add periodically to this story with how my diagnosis progressed and also useful resources to aid in your journey.

I will also add anything new that I find that I think may be useful to others.

LINKS AND MORE INFORMATION:

http://www.coeliac.org.au/

A wonderful sight with lots of tips,ideas, information, latest research and recipes as well as places to buy gluten free food from all over Australia  and where to eat out without worrying.

  The Gluten Free Bible

I wish I had found this sooner, as it is written by a someone who has made the journey and gives valuable first hand tips and information.

Amazing recipes that actually taste good. I defy “ordinary” people to know these are gluten free.

Lots of other recipe books and diet tips.

Worth having a look at, especially for those who put on weight because of gluten intolerance.

fatburningbakingFREE BONUS E-BOOK :  FAT BURNING BAKING

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Hints and general tips for gluten free eating and cooking.

Send me an email and I will send you the FREE e-book for you to download.

Send your email with the subject line “Free e-book”  to:

info@glutenfreeandweightloss.net

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More to come: Paleo diets, The Jon Gabriel Method ( my personal favourite)

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