So I know I've alluded to it in a few posts and told some close friends but I wanted share with you all something that I've had to deal with this past year. I share it because I'm sure there is someone out there that is going through the same thing and I hope this message gets to you to help you relieve your suffering.
The thing that I've been dealing with is I am now gluten intolerant and most likely have celiac disease. I really don't want to start eating gluten again to get the formal diagnosis. I explain later how I came to this conclusion.
I share this picture because just last September I wrote up a the post on our Facebook page talking about the hype behind giving up gluten. You can see that post here. At this point my knowledge of gluten was decent. However I knew very little about gluten sensitivities and celiac disease just straight manifesting out of thin air. That's basically what happened to me!!!
The fully story... In late December I started noticing a rash on my underarms and down my upper arms. Given the location I thought it was maybe an interaction with my deodorant, so switched that up, nothing changed. I then thought maybe it was a soap or detergent, so switched those up, nothing happened. I then took out some foods, gluten, dairy, and soy. I did that for about a week and nothing happened at the end of a week. So I went back to eating the way I had. I should say that I wasn't eating a lot of gluten at this point, a little bread maybe once or twice a week, and I would have a beer maybe 4-5 times a week.
After I did all of that trial and error I basically went back to "normal" stuff. That is when things got really bad. The rash spread to my face, back, chest and even into my legs. At that point I was extremely uncomfortable so I went to the dermatologist. They took a biopsy of the rash and prescribed some steroid cream to help calm down the rash. The biopsy didn't show anything, which was both good and bad. Good that I didn't have cancer or some other serious disease but bad in that I still didn't know what was causing the rash. I then did an environmental allergy test with the dermatologist. When I went in to get the patches removed, there was only one thing that I was allergic to and that didn't make any sense that that would be the cause. This was roughly mid February and I was still eating my normal diet. At this appointment the dermatologist wanted to prescribe me an oral steroid to help with the rash but I told her that I didn't want to take it. I didn't want to kill the rash, I wanted to figure out what was causing it. She was a little shocked that I would turn down drugs that would help with my symptoms. At this point she told me that only 10% of people ever figure what causes rashes like this! Wow!!! I could tell I pushed a button of hers, oh well!
I left the office that day and was pretty upset! I was mad at the dermatologist that her main intent was to treat my symptoms. I was upset that 90% of people that have rashes like me go through life not knowing what causes it and likely take prescription medicine to manage symptoms. It made me all the more determined to figure it out. At this point I started having conversations with Laura's sister who was also struggling with similar issues as me. She was a little further along in the process of figuring out what was causing her symptoms and she was pretty certain that she had what is called dermatitis herpetaformis or DH. Simply put, celiac disease but a version that shows up through the skin and not the gut.
It was right around April 1st that bit the bullet and cut out all gluten, including beer. I remained free and clear of gluten until the end of May. During that time my rash completely disappeared. That is when I reintroduced it! Of course I chose to use beer as my gluten source! Essentially what I had done was an elimination provocation diet. The results were a little confusing to me. I got together with some of my beer drinking buddies on a Saturday night. Sunday came and went and nothing happened. Same with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought I was in clear! Then Thursday evening I broke out. I thought it was a little strange from a timing standpoint so I chose to test it again. This time I waited 3 weeks to "clear out" my system then did it again. Unfortunately I had the same outbreak with the same timing. I had my answer!
I went from someone that had no symptoms of any gluten sensitivity to being allergic basically overnight. Strange, right? Now that I've started learning more about gluten and how it interacts with our bodies, it isn't so strange. Gluten is a harmful substance to everybody. Yeah you read that right, everybody. Some people can process it and not be "harmed" while others hit a breaking point and there body just says enough is enough.
You might think that is pretty extreme to say that gluten is harmful to everyone. You might think it doesn't affect me. We consume toxins everyday in our foods and through things in our environment like our cleaning supplies and the air we breath. Our bodies do an incredibly good job of processing these toxins and eliminating them from our bodies. Eliminating these toxins creates stress in our body. If you start piling on too much stress at some point your body will be overwhelmed and break down. Doing my research about what causes DH, they often say it comes in 30+ year olds usually after a stressful situation in their lives. I'm blaming Eli our son, love you buddy but you've definitely increased the stress level in the house.
As I stated earlier, my goal is for a light bulb to go off in someone's head and make the connection between the food you eat and chronic symptoms that you might be fighting. For some that may be rashes, headaches, achy joints, digestion issues, brain fog, fatigue and the list could go on. I would encourage you to think about the foods that you are eating. Pay attention to when symptoms get bad and what foods you ate recently. Don't discount the power of the things you put into your body! People don't think twice about medicine that they ingest affecting how they feel. I would argue food is just as powerful to both heal and hurt you.
If you want to chat more about how to structure an elimination diet I would love to talk with you. You can email me here. Or if you just want to take it upon yourself I highly recommend the book, The Elimination Diet by Tom Maltere.
The Cook & The Coach
Healthy is a LIFESTYLE.