You would think that someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis would have already experienced the gluten free diet—especially since I had a post that told you all about it’s “failure” to make a difference in my disease. Well, a lot of time has passed since then and it has become painfully apparent that I really didn’t go truly gluten free. I thought I had by just avoiding obvious gluten sources, mainly wheat – especially in processed foods. However, what I now know to be TRUE gluten free is much, much different than what I had submitted myself to a few years ago. Back then, I am sure I was consuming things like soy sauce, salad dressings, marinades, and a host of other processed foods that could have easily (and likely were) contaminated with gluten! So, although my intentions were good and I was VERY good on the diet I planned out for myself, I now understand that it couldn’t have been a true gluten free diet given what I know and understand now. And I haven’t even mentioned the many ways I would have been cross-contaminated at restaurants and even in my own kitchen using cutting boards, utensils and pots and pans that would have been contaminated with gluten!
I am now entering the very essence of the true gluten free diet and what happens next will be the real test. But before my next post and the beginning conclusion of the true gluten free diet (defined in shortened form as the GF Diet for the rest of this post), I want to talk about some interesting by-products of eliminating most known common allergens from my diet as I have in the last 20-30 days.
On April 4, 2011, I embarked on a journey I had never taken before. I did it regularly, in part, meaning portions of this diet have been exercised over the years, but I have never done all the components at the same time. Here’s what I mean. I, through the instruction of my doctor, eliminated all common allergens from my diet including wheat, gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, all grains, preservatives, pesticides and basically ate a diet consisting of lean, pastured meats (no pork), and low glycemic fruits and vegetables with few allowed condiments. I don’t think I fully understood how this could be called a “repair diet” as it wasn’t filled with massive amounts of juicing or supplementation. (Some supplementation was taken but not in the mass amounts I would have expected.) Below is my account as to what that diet did for me.
On April 24, 2011, Easter Day, I was able to add in other foods once more. This concluded the diet mentioned above but ushered in the true gluten free and sugar free diet. So I began to add some foods in. I won’t go into detail as to which foods I added in and when, but I can tell you something wonderful that came out of the 20 day diet which I now understand much better. My body became used to the “clean” foods it was consuming and during this time I became “even” throughout the day. I say “even” meaning I no longer had “highs” and “lows” throughout the day. Before this diet and for as long as I can remember, I have had days that remind me more of a slow cargo plane, taking off s-l-o-w-l-y and while in the air, not moving too quickly but “getting the job done” and landing just as s-l-o-w-l-y in the evenings. In other words, it took me HOURS to gain energy in the day and maybe (if I was fortunate) I found energy mid-day and if I didn’t, I grabbed some caffeine in some way to get me moving. Then in the evenings, I would “crash” right after dinner, making after dinner chores either non-existent or done with great discomfort. During the 20 day diet, and after the 4-5th days, I began to feel like a jet plane; a fast “take-off” and an efficient “landing” in the later evenings. I found I was able to clean up the dinner dishes and have energy left to plan for the next day and even enjoy some relaxing (but not “falling asleep” relaxing) time with my husband before bed. The menu was not bad at all and I felt I wasn’t hungry or suffering cravings throughout the whole diet. Now that is not bad at all! A sample of my regular meals looked a bit like the picture below and as you can tell, I was not really suffering from lack of good food!
So, adding in the foods I chose after this 20 day diet gave me a “guide” which I never had before. I never understand which foods (or other substance) “could” be causing me my symptoms – mainly because my body was saturated with them! Now, I had some exciting introductions (I didn’t seem to react to brown rice and some other properly prepared grains) but I very quickly connected sulfites to my more serious symptoms! This was something I couldn’t pin-point before! So I am now trying to eliminate sulfites (I didn’t realize how hard that would be) and see if I can detect any other culprits as time goes by. I am trying to eat closely to the Nourishing Traditions way of eating but the main point of this next 2 month period is to identify culprits, not necessarily eat perfectly. After 2 months, I will take a test (or 2) that will help me fine tune my permanent diet which hopefully will include only foods that I am not reacting to. This is the most exciting journey I have taken in my quest for healing or minimizing my Hashimoto’s Disease! To me, it is straight forward, common sense; get the culprits out and feed the body good, nourishing foods for rebuilding the system. You can’t rebuild when the culprits are being ingested daily! Sadly, these “culprits” could be common, every day foods like dairy or soy in addition to the gluten, and without proper attention, you may never know what you are reacting to and in turn, will not heal. Now, I have found some other possible culprits but the sulfites were serious! I was having problems in my brain (inflammation) that would cause me to have serious bouts of instability, to the point I really felt I would pass out. I would have to sit up for hours waiting for the “attack” to pass. It could have been (hopefully I will avoid this now) an anaphylactic response to sulfites! I always saw a connection to tomato sauce and not sure if that is in response to the possibility of naturally occurring sulfites or MSG in cooked tomatoes. This is something I will find out as I go but I am determined to get to the bottom of these reactions so I can live without them.
It is exciting to see so many stores and hopefully more restaurants catering to food allergies and especially gluten free needs. Trader Joes has made me happy as they now have a special labeling system for gluten free items. Over time, it will be become easier and easier to prepare gluten free meals and purchase gluten free foods from the store. Thank you Trader Joes and the others who are working hard to serve the growing community of gluten free shoppers and diners. PF Chang also gets a great big THANK YOU for catering to the gluten free community and supplying a dedicated kitchen station to their gluten free customers along with special plates and table condiments to make sure we are not cross-contaminated! You can see their gluten free menu here and click the gluten free menu once you get there.
I am hoping that my next post gives you a specific look at what is happening in a more direct way with Hashimoto’s. I have lost around 10 pounds but weight isn’t my focus. I want to heal and I know the weight will follow as I do.
I hope this post has encouraged you to eliminate common allergens and in the process begin to find your particular culprits. Life is too precious to be sick all the time if you can help it!
Here’s to healing!
UPDATE: Please see follow up post here!Disclaimer: All posts are describing my personal journey through health issues and are in no way meant to guide anyone towards any method in particular. I am not a medical practitioner or have a dietary or medical license, and this blog is not intended to be taken as authoritative advice. Please see your doctor, or health professional before making any drastic diet changes! Also, occasionally I find others to partner with whom I have had tremendous help from and therefore, there may be paid advertisements and links to support them and help me financially run this website.