Recently, I was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, which, according to Mayo Clinic, is "a chronic immune system disease in which a type of white blood cell (eosinophil) builds up in the lining of the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach (esophagus). This buildup, which is a reaction to foods, allergens or acid reflux, can inflame or injure the esophageal tissue. Damaged esophageal tissue can lead to difficulty swallowing or cause food to get stuck when you swallow."
Food had been getting stuck in my esophagus because the eosinophil buildup caused it to narrow so much. I went back on an antacid medication that I had been on a few times before, had an endoscopy where they stretched my esophagus, went through a biopsy to confirm eosinophilic esophagitis, and started on an inhaler.
These eosinophils are likely building up as a result of unknown food allergies. I have been told that the two most common causes are gluten and dairy. My aunt has been gluten-free for years and suggested I start there since it is related to inflammation.
Ready to feel better and stop choking on my food, I was more than willing to try the gluten-free life. I have plenty of friends and family who don't eat gluten and seem to be pretty happy folks still! I researched gluten-free snacks and took the daunting trip to Kroger for my first real grocery shop alone. I run quick errands back home for my parents all the time, but because I still live in a dorm, I've never had to do a true grocery shopping trip.
I've been really enjoying some of the snacks I bought. My favorite would have to be the banana bread Larabar, but I also love Bobo's Stuffed Oats. And I haven't tried anything that I didn't enjoy, even including the GF chicken nuggets and waffles I tried.
My biggest struggle with this new diet choice is that there were already a lot of foods I couldn't eat that I still can't eat. I've been avoiding acidic and greasy foods for over a year and a half. The dining halls have never been my favorite or most successful dining location, but now it's much harder to find foods that I can eat. I've been living off of salad and potatoes. But I am getting by, trying new things, and really trying to take care of myself!
I'm not sure how much this gluten-free thing is helping or if it even is at all, but my esophagus has been feeling much better. Eating has been much easier since starting on my medicine and getting my esophagus literally stretched. But I have definitely been feeling much healthier, so I think that even if it turns out that gluten is not the source of my esophageal issues, I will continue to limit my gluten intake.