Gluten-Free and Me

BooksigningFranceNewJersey238Quite some time ago one of my health practitioners mentioned he thought I might be gluten-sensitive.  I politely listened and filed his recommendation in the back of my mind.  Being gluten-sensitive was not information I wanted to hear since I knew what was involved in following the diet.

And besides, I rarely ate gluten since I’m already carbohydrate sensitive or insulin resistant so would it really matter?

About 4 years ago my right index finger started to become arthritic and bent.  I attributed it to the long hours of book writing, editing and writing out patient plans/notes multiple times a day plus my family genetics of arthritis and inflammation.  Even though being a hand model was never on the brain, my deformed finger really bothered me.

Then I went to see a hand surgeon a year ago and he looked at my hands under a fancy microscope and said I had the arthritis of a 70-year-old woman.  Not knowing my profession, he said, “you might consider an anti-inflammatory diet or take some fish oil.”  I quietly thought to myself  “you have no idea who you are talking to and the level to which I follow your suggestions.”

About 2 months ago, I was tired of my finger not getting better, and having more problems writing so I decided to give the gluten-free diet a try.  My handwriting had so decompensated that Jeffrey would have to photograph my grocery lists and ask me for clarification.

I’m all up for the 30-day experiment and after all “what have I got to lose?  I even published a gluten-free cookie book so why not?”

At the beginning of November I started my gluten-free regimen.  As I mentioned I already had so little gluten in my diet why should it matter that much?

On Thanksgiving I tested the waters and had a quarter of a biscuit and a bite of stuffing.  Unfortunately I got my answer later that night since I had bone pain throughout my body the whole night.

Since then a few things have happened – my finger has started to improve, I don’t cringe when I have to write something, and one nice bonus was any abdominal bloating I had is completely gone – something I had attributed mainly to menopause.

On Christmas day we were had a lovely meal out and I had the challenge of eating gluten-free at a nice restaurant.  I started to experience the anxiety I’m sure my clients with Celiac disease feel when they eat out – are they really telling the truth when they say something is made gluten-free, without flour, etc.? 

What about cross-contamination (something with gluten touching something they make)?  Although I don’t have Celiac it is a concern.  I ended up with no consequences but I had to choose very carefully.  An interesting case in point is:  although I ate more than usual and was more full, I had absolutely no bloating afterward.

I don’t plan on eating all the gluten-free products, which are full of starches, and carbs, which makes issues worse.  If I eat carbs they will have to be what I call non man-made ones such as yams, squashes, fruit, etc.

Is this challenging?  You can’t imagine.  Not having even a bite of Jeffrey’s Chicken consommé with pastry crust or a bite of the homemade cookies at dessert was difficult since we always share.  The big question I had to keep asking myself to stay on track was:

Do you really want your hands to hurt, your fingers to look like you are 80 soon and your stomach to be unhappy? 

Of course not!  I don’t know if I will do this forever but as long as I see the rewards of following a gluten-free diet I will continue down this path.

This is just a case study in myself but since I blog from my experience I thought I would share it with all of you.  I have to wonder if the GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) are in our grains, since I do not feel the same extent of side effects with eating gluten in Europe.  However, we may not know the full ramification of GMO’s in our lifetime.

Unfortunately I did not start on my journey soon enough to negate the arthritic symptoms in my hands but I will have the experiment now of how keeping gluten out of my diet affects them.  Hoping this new journey will bring more health to my hands, and more will be revealed so stay tuned on the blog for updates.

Thanks for reading and wishing you good health and happiness in 2014!