“Do or do not” – Starting the journey

4 May

I feel as if my list of permissible foods is shrinking, but at the same time my energy levels are improving so maybe that is the reassurance I need that I’m doing something right?

When I first implemented my own allergy rotation diet in early March, I included grains and some sugar, but couldn’t get it out of my (obsessive-compulsive-prone) head that candida overgrowth may have been contributing to my symptoms. For two weeks I eliminated all sugar (including fruit!). Let’s just say it did NOT go well…A constant reading of “50” on the glucometer isn’t exactly a good thing! So I did some more reading and reintroduced fruit only to be eaten first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The rationale behind doing it this way is so you’re breaking your fast with something that is going to be quickly converted and used instead of sitting around in the gut, fermenting, and feeding all the yeasties. For the most part, this has worked well.

The grain elimination shortly followed when I noticed that I was feeling very sluggish and out of sorts

A fitting quote for a May 4th post. Commit to a gluten free diet for 30 days. No cheating, and no half-assed attempts. Feel the difference. Your body will thank you.

following skillet breads or piles of quinoa. Our culture is grain-dependent and while our food pyramid (designed by the government that pays the grain farmers’ subsidies…just sayin’) was built to reflect this, our BODIES were not built to digest all of these grains. In fact, grains cause a significant problem for a lot of people, they just don’t know it.

I recently finished reading the chapter on leaky gut in Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet. The book is a real page-turner, honest! Wolf is a funny guy, and while some of the parts are a bit scientific, he explains them very well. Anyway, he talks about the various proteins found in grains, particularly lectins, which are not broken down in the normal digestive process. We all remember what happens to proteins that don’t get broken down properly, right? Unfortunately, the issue is compounded by the fact that grains contain protease inhibitors as well, which further stunts the digestive process. But grains are cunning little guys (I mean, they did manage to convince the government they were strong enough to hold up the whole food pyramid!) and they can actually fool receptors in the intestinal wall into thinking they are broken down and ready for transport through the lining and into the body! Legumes and dairy have very similar effects on our gastrointestinal tract as well. And what happens when large, undigested proteins end up in the bloodstream, class? Inflammation.

If you’re considering embarking on a nutritional overhaul, my suggestion is to start small and slowly. I was chatting with a friend earlier about possibly embarking on restructuring her diet and I explained that there is no way I could have (sanely) managed all I’m managing now if it had all happened at once. Over the course of the past 2 years, I have slowly eliminated one food at a time as each became a known issue, but gluten was indeed the first to go. So if you are feeling overwhelmed and want to know “What do I do first??” Start there. Cut out the gluten for 30 days. Just 30 days. 1 month. 4 weeks. However you want to look at it. You’ll survive, I promise! The worst it can do is make you feel a bit crummy as you go through withdrawal for a couple of days (because the process of consuming gluten activates the same receptors crack does, and I’m not even joking), and the best it can do is give you some semblance of health back and reduce your dependence on processed foods. If you’re going to do it though, actually DO it. There is no “on again off again” gluten free eating. You need to fully abstain from the stuff for the full 30 days for it to make a difference because remember, it can take the GI tract several days to rejuvenate after a single exposure to an irritant.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Here are some resources to help you get started:

Celiac.com – A comprehensive site on celiac disease and gluten free eating
Gluten Free Goddess
– Check out Karina’s posts on what to buy, what to look out for, and gluten free 101

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2 Responses to ““Do or do not” – Starting the journey”

  1. Heather Thomas May 6, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Hi Erika. I’m Q.’s friend. Will a gluten free diet help with constipation.(sorry of that’s gross). I presently take 1 fiber Con every night, and 1 tablespoon of Myralax every other night. But, I still suffer from constipation. I know I need more fiber in my diet. But what else can I do?

    • theprogressivepatient May 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      Hi Heather!

      You and I can chat more at length on Facebook, but I wanted to address this here because you bring up a good point. Surprisingly, fiber is not the “wonder” fix some claim it to be, and in fact, it can actually make things worse.

      Sometimes, the issue is a bit more comprehensive and a bit … deeper (no pun intended). Allopathic docs focus on the symptoms, but what about the cause of the constipation? If you’ve had a full work up and everything is coming back clean, is it a side effect from a medication? Something out of balance in your gut flora? Dietary related?

      My best suggestion would be to try a high quality probiotic. You can look into flax as a supplement to help absorb the toxins from the waste that sits around a bit better too, but you want to start slowly with that.

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