By istolethetv from Hong Kong, China (alien abduction Uploaded by Princess Mérida) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Battling My Leaky Gut

Lately I’ve been feeling like my leaky gut is an alien that’s taken over my body, like in one of those sci-fi movies my boys watched as kids. My leaky gut and all its accompanying symptoms control me physically and emotionally. My gut dictates my family life, my work life, my social life. It tells me where I can eat and what I can eat. It makes me tired and angry. It keeps me from traveling and doing the things I used to do. It makes my brain feel like mush and the wrong words come out of my mouth.

I wish I had an antidote to cure my leaky gut, so that I could return to the person I once was, the one who felt Super Human. Of course, back then,  I didn’t know I felt Super Human. I did not appreciate my health, my energy, my memory, and my non-eczema skin  because I didn’t know any different.

If I could go back in time,  oh how I’d live my life differently. I wouldn’t starve myself in high school because I wanted to fit in 28-waist Levis. I wouldn’t have lived on lettuce and beer in college. As a young mom, I’d skip the processed convenient foods and focus more on the outer aisles of the grocery stores. I’d follow the advice of my sister-in-law, an osteopathic doctor, who touted organic and non-GMO foods way before it was cool.

I would have eaten more organic foods

In my thirties, I’d take probiotics when I took antibiotics along with prescribed painkillers for the first medical procedure  . . .  and the second . . . and the third. I wouldn’t have believed the first two doctors who diagnosed IBS; instead, I would have listened to that voice in my head that said something else was wrong. Nor would I have believed the next two doctors who diagnosed gall bladder disease and not celiac disease and food allergies. Yes, the cheese sticks made me sick but not because they were fatty!  Because they were full of wheat and dairy!

When my father died, I would have taken long walks in the Vermont woods instead of drowning my sorrow in wine and Ben and Jerry’s. I would have believed that stress does impact your health.

But I can’t go back.

None of us can.

We can only go forward.

We can do all the things we should have been doing all along. We can continue educating ourselves about our leak guts and accompanying illnesses. We can stand up for ourselves at our doctors’ offices. We can listen to the voices in our heads when they tell us something isn’t quite right, or maybe I need another doctor’s opinion or test, or maybe the diet I’m following isn’t working.

Most importantly, we can support one another.

When you’re having a bad day, reach out to someone who understands; there are dozens of online support sources. Check out the websites, bloggers and nonprofit organizations who dedicate themselves to educating and supporting various autoimmune illnesses.

And when you’re feeling good–maybe not quite Super Human, but good nonetheless–help someone who is having a bad day.

It’ll make you feel even better.

***

After writing this post, I realized you could replace “Leaky Gut” with  “Celiac Disease” or “Food Allergies” or “Multiple Chemical Sensitivities” or “Lupus” or “Lyme Disease” or an other autoimmune illness and the meaning of my words would be the same. Coincidentally, it happens to be “awareness week or month” for just about every autoimmune disease. So if you want to substitute “leaky gut” for the illness you have and share this post (with a link back to me), please feel free to do so.

Battling My Leaky Gut first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

From an Allergic Foodie

To Eaters of Everything from an Allergic Foodie

Dear Eaters of Everything,

I remember what it was like to be you.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I sipped my Starbucks soy latte while nibbling on a blueberry muffin, waiting for my kids to finish their guitar lessons. On shopping excursions, I picked up a fast-food salad without worrying about the croutons or the shredded cheese or the dressing with soy oil.  During football games, I ate deep-fried chicken wings not once considering what else had been fried in the fryer.  At movies, I shared buttered popcorn with my husband.  I even munched on prepackaged cookies–without reading the label!

From an Allergic Foodie

Some people can eat whatever they want.

Once upon a time, not so long ago,  I was also intolerant of people with “food issues.”

(Please don’t hate me my dear readers who have very real food issues, but it’s time I come clean.)

I, An Allergic Foodie, once rolled my eyes when my girlfriend passed on the bacon-wrapped melon appetizer because melon made her “tongue feel funny.” I believed people who were lactose intolerant just didn’t like the taste of milk. I thought my sister-in-law who ate only organic veggies and fruits and grass-fed meats was a pain in the neck.  I thought my friend who was constantly running to one doctor after another for stomach pain was a little bit of a hypochondriac.

Payback is hell.

Dear Eaters of Everything, while I certainly don’t wish you any harm, someday your stomach may betray you just as mine did.  I was well into my life when I developed multiple food allergies, celiac disease, and eosinophilic esophagitis. On top of that, my youngest son also developed celiac disease and my oldest son started reacting severely to dairy.

I had to learn a whole new way of grocery shopping, preparing foods, ordering out, reading labels.  I studied nutrition, the gastrointestinal system, and naturopathic medicine.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping is tough when your allergic of wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, corn, etc. (Photo credit: Bruce A Stockwell)

As I said, payback is hell.

But as I became informed, something wonderful happened.  I became empathetic to those with food issues. And that’s why I am writing to you, Eaters of Everything.  I don’t want your lack of information to cause you to be  intolerant to those with food-related illnesses.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Please recognize and accept that some foods make some people sick.  And so, when we take ten minutes to order in restaurants, we are being picky eaters for a reason. When we eat in your homes, we are not trying to cause you extra work in the kitchen–we’re just trying to stay healthy. Sometimes, we are trying to save ourselves or a family member (or you)  a trip to the emergency room.  Don’t be afraid to ask us questions. We don’t expect you to know all the ingredients where allergens hide, or how to keep foods from being contaminated.  We don’t mind explaining our special food needs; we want–no, we need–you to understand.

Eaters of Everything, thank you for taking the time to read this.  I wish you continued good health.

Happy Eating!

An Allergic Foodie

Some of my other posts you may like:

Celiac Disease Wasn’t a Part of the College Plan

I’m a Picky Eater. And Proud of It!

Living Life with Food Challenges

To Eaters of Everything from An Allergic Foodie originally appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.