I realized recently that if you’ve paid a little bit of attention to my social media presence, you may have noticed that I always cook gluten free. If I were to put myself in your shoes (and when I do that working with clients), I would wonder “why the heck is she doing that?”
At this point (it being 2018), you probably know at least 1 person or a few people who have tried a gluten free diet, or maybe follow it religiously and ruin dinner parties, but I thought it important for me to tell you why I have avoided gluten (about 98% of the time) for the last 5+ years.
Back in 2012, I got a phone call from my mom saying she had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune thyroid condition). Her thyroid antibodies were over 4,000 (they’re supposed to be less than 35). And, to give you context with my mom, she was always the one with a drawer full of supplements. She was also the one doing gallbladder flushes to avoid getting hers removed despite strong urgings from her doctors (which she has been successfully able to thwart over the past 15 years). So, she’s not one to jump to medications before trying something else.
“Leigh, what do I need to do?” she asked, knowing I work with clients with all kinds of different chronic diseases (including autoimmune diseases).
“Mom, I know you don’t want to hear this, but you’re going to have to give up gluten.”
There’s a strong relationship between autoimmune diseases and gluten (obviously Celiac Disease but also Type 1 Diabetes, Hashimoto’s and others).
As an aside, later I found out that at least 3 of my mom's siblings are on thyroid hormone (medication). Hmm…
So, knowing that Hashimoto’s runs in families, I agreed to go gluten free with her, and after some grumbling by my dad (the chef in the household), she was able to take gluten out of her life.
What she and I both found (rather quickly) is that avoiding gluten had solved some digestive issues that we’d been living with, thinking they were just normal. My mom also noticed that her gallbladder problems had completely disappeared. I personally also noticed less brain fog and generally felt like I had more energy. It was eye-opening what an effect a single protein in wheat, barley and rye could have on our health.
My mom's diagnosis, Hashimoto’s, is a condition that is generally considered irreversible; when you start Synthroid (Levothyroxine; thyroid medication/hormone), you never go off. However, my mom never took it and her second lab check, several months after diagnosis, showed her thyroid antibodies were down to 2,000. And now they’re down to 400. She has not taken any thyroid medication, and now she has no symptoms of hypothyroidism. She has reversed her disease process... with her diet.
After having worked with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of clients at this point, I could tell stories for days about the ways that individualized diets can alleviate and reverse disease, but I won’t do that today. I choose to remain 98% gluten free to not only support my mom, but also to try to prevent my own thyroid problem. At this point, I do it because... I just feel better. So, this is about why I chose to avoid gluten, and I’d be curious (if you’ve made dietary or other lifestyle changes), how have they transformed your life?