After years and years (yes years) of suffering from upset stomachs, taking numerous intolerance tests, changing my diet time and time again, going completely vegan then reintroducing food – after a stressful start to 2016, I started getting severe stomach pains…. pains that would literally bring me down to the floor in pain… or my friends living room – where she would be like, “Jayne do you need anything down there?” and I would just say, “no no I am okay…Just indigestion”, to her response, “you really need to go and see the doctor about this.” I just didn’t see the point because I had put up with these episodes happening, sometimes 3 months apart sometimes daily, mostly dependent on stress levels in my life, but after numerous attempts at failed training sessions due to stomach pains I phoned the doctor on my walk back from a run to say… “I need an appointment today!!” They got me in that day, chucking out a few suggestions of what it might be, but agreeing up to 4 years of stomach issues on my medical record something wasn’t quite right… they suggested I could be coeliac… I laughed! There is no way I am coeliac, I know friends who are coeliac and I don’t have any of the symptoms they did… I was tired, getting migraines 2 – 3 times a week at its worse, having to have 10-20 minute nap after most meals, barely able to put together my mileage and I just felt disgusting in myself, brain fog – literally couldn’t think – now I know people who know me who say that’s just you.. buttttt honestly I just couldn’t concentrate, I was really starting to feel down. It would get to every 3rd week and I would just be physically exhausted I would need to sleep for 15 hours.
Anyway back to the story, I didn’t think in the slightest this test was going to come back positive, and I get the call saying we need you to come back into the surgery. You have coeliac disease… okay wow.. I got home and googled symptoms:
“Possible coeliac disease symptoms may include:
- Diarrhoea, excessive wind and/or constipation
- Persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting
- Regular stomach pain, cramping or bloating
- Iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency
- Tiredness and/or headaches
- Weight loss (in some cases)
- Hair loss
- Skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Tooth enamel problems
- Joint and/or bone pain
- Neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (poor muscle co-ordination)
- neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)”
I just thought WOW: why have we never looked at this as an issue before? So I am not saying it would have changed my whole athletic career, BUT when I was an athlete I ended up at urgent care several times with extreme stomach pains, sent home with some painkillers and antacids. To find out in 2015 I had huge ulcers in my stomach, and nothing was done until they burst and I vomited blood – my blood and iron levels were so low I could have given myself a heart attack. In 2011 I was diagnosed with anaemia… we still haven’t got to the bottom of why I even became anaemic (iron deficiency) in the first place, and have been on iron supplements since. Somedays I was so tired I could barely even pull myself out of bed and for those that know me well, I am a get up get out and show the world who’s winning sort of person. So I took it on the chin when I was called up and thought… OH ****. First of all I had just got to a point in my life where I was feeling completely comfortable with how I ate, I loved pasta and bread again and chocolate especially of the Oreo type was a very good friend of mine – yes personal trainers are not complete robots.
So I was dealing with 2 issues, how do I cut out gluten and how do I do it successfully without triggering any old habits? So when you change you diet, I always tell and remind my clients of this, if it is a dramatic change, your body is going to be a little confused for a week or so while it adapts to a new way of eating. I literally was SO bloated, I mean my stomach looked preggers for 10 days after switching, my brain was going on overdrive, I was analysing EVERYTHING on myfitness pal and then I just broke down and thought I can’t do this… how am I going to do this? Some major support from my friends and within the next 7 days I was literally like a new woman! I sat down and chatted everything through with the girls and they were AMAZING! I then topped my highest mileage week since I broke my knee… 78 miles! Okay its a little excessive but it highlights how much better I was feeling… AND for the first time I would say since I can remember I just felt like I was getting so much more done with my day, I wasn’t getting extreme tiredness anymore, I wasn’t feeling bloated and uncomfortable, EVERY run I was doing I was completing didn’t matter how much sleep I got I was just so happy!!
But why was I so adamant I wasn’t gluten intolerant and why is it so important to get it diagnosed?
Gluten Free is a new fad that has hit the country and worldwide! BUT it use to infuriate me, people saying I am gluten free, I ask why, they say, “because it is better for you”. INCORRECT FACT!!!! A Gluten free diet is not better for you unless you are intolerant to Gluten a protein based in all wheat products! In fact not eating it if you aren’t intolerant could have some side effects to your health. Being coeliac means I cannot absorb any nutrients from foods that I eat that contain gluten (an important protein) therefore I am malnourished and gluten free products are better for me as I will absorb more nutrients.
Key things why a gluten-free diet is not good for you if you are not coeliac:
- You do not have symptoms of gluten intolerance– if you are eating pasta, cookies, cakes, pies, and packaged foods with gluten and you are not experiencing any symptoms such as stomach upset, gas, bloating etc. you should NOT stop eating those things. There is really no reason to.
- You want to lose weight – unless you are giving up all carbs and I mean all carbs, this is not a diet you will lose weight on. In fact, because gluten-free foods often use more sugars and fillers to make up for that gluten, you might actually gain weight.
- You think it’s healthy – It isn’t. All of those substitutes and fillers are even less healthy than gluten filled foods.
- You like to go out to eat – and think you can order off of the gluten-free menu. No you really, really can’t. Especially when you tell the waiter you can’t eat gluten, then order a piece chocolate cake for dessert. This will truly piss off the kitchen and wait staff. It makes it more difficult for those of us who do have to watch everything we eat to be taken seriously, choices are very limited.
DON’T follow the fad, only cut out gluten if you have been diagnosed with the disease! If you think you do, then I 100% think you should get yourself down to your GP because it has made a massive positive impact on my life. In fact I don’t even find it frustrating anymore, I am just in the swing of things and I love my new way of living!