18 million people suffer from 'gluten sensitivity' and guess what? I'm one of them. Though I can be considered borderline celiac due to my symptoms and reactions, I am part of the 18 million whose blood came back with a giant negative, leaving us all stuck for a solution to pregnant looking stomachs, the urge to vomit, and the sudden hate for bagels, donuts, pizzas, and the ever delicious cupcake.
But what exactly is a sensitivity and what qualifies as an allergy? Well, a sensitivity to gluten is kind of like being lactose intolerant. It means you can't tolerate gluten like others are able to (gluten intolerance being another term). Luckily (I say loosely) for the 18 million, a sensitivity doesn't attack tissue like celiac does. Celiac, being an autoimmune disorder, damages your small intestines, making it hard for you to absorb certain nutrients in food which can make someone malnourished as a result. Autoimmune disorders, like celiac, are known for attacking or rejecting certain parts of your body (examples of autoimmune: Lupus, or hypo/hyperthyroidism), and in that case, your body is attacking itself every time you eat gluten.
How did I know gluten wasn't my friend? I ate it. All the time. Wendy's chicken nuggets, coconut shrimp, buns, and croutons pushed me into this realization. My family and I were suspicious about my issues with eating years before I actually gave up the goods. Blood tests and stomach biopsies' came back with nothing, which was good but also awful because I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Like everything else, I forgot about it and pushed it to the back of my mind, and ate wheat-y products, feeling "fine," from what I thought.
Then I went to college. I was fine originally but eventually I noticed I couldn't fit into my pants after eating, my stomach felt hard as a rock, and I wanted to lay in bed until the next morning when I digested and felt better, even just for a little while. I thought maybe it was just college food. A lot of people had issues with it but I was always eating fried food, whether it was at college or before, so I was still unsure. So then what? Well, my mom's friend had given up gluten after she received a negative blood test and said she felt a million times better. She agreed with my symptoms so finally I had some meals away from gluten.
But of course that didn't help at all. For lunch, I'd eat a salad but for dinner I'd get a calzone or a hot dog with a bun, even a brownie or cupcake for dessert. I couldn't bite the gluten free bullet and give up the foods I'd been eating for 18 years.
Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. Spending every night at the gym working out as hard as I could just so other body parts would hurt and I would forget about my stomach weren't helping and whining about it didn't either (surprisingly enough). So I did it. I broke up with gluten.
Over a year later, I am completely gluten free (well, besides the penny sized pieces of bread at restaurants that I just can't resist) and I feel pretty dang good. Of course, I miss my crazy glutened-out food but with the idea of being gluten free, paleo, and having these allergies becoming so popular, the food has really evolved. And yes, I can still eat bagels and pizza like a Jersey girl, have my cake, and eat it too! Recently, I tried to get tested for celiac, which more and more doctors believe I have, but to do such, I have to eat 4 slices of bread every day for 3+ months! Yeah, no thanks.
Being gluten free has made me feel like such an outcast. I can't drink at parties, eat half-priced apps, or go to Midnight Caf and enjoy a free, but awful meal. I've had to change my toothpaste, diet, and even the beauty products I use. Who knew my shampoo could contain the very thing I was trying to get away from? No, it hasn't been easy and I'm constantly battling with myself on whether or not to go back but I have to remind myself that it's over. I've broken up with gluten and I don't think it'll ever get that second chance it wants.