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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mommy Moment Monday #4: Going G Free

I'm back!!! I know you've all been dying to know what the heck happened to Mommy Moment Mondays. I mean, one minute here it is and the next..POOF..it was gone just as fast as it started. 

Well life has been kicking me down lately and I wasn't sure whether or not I felt comfortable sharing. I want my blog to be a positive place to inspire others but lately I've been very negative, uninspired and I wasn't sure if being honest would scare you away. After much soul searching I decided that sharing my struggles, both positive and negative is not only good for my soul but just might benefit anyone out there who cares to listen. I'm not here to pretend to be perfect and I think we can all learn a lot from each other by sharing our greatest challenges and struggles. And so, I'm just going to put it all out there-crap and all. Because happy or not this is who I am and where I am at. And if you don't want to hear about it then you don't have to keep reading today's post.

Those of you who have been following my blog for the past six months know that I've been struggling with my health. Despite heaps of test all of my results came back inconclusive. Not only is this extremely frustrating, preparing for them was just making me sicker. A few months ago I was told that I am in the early stages of diabetes and it was only predicted that I have celiacs disease. In order to be tested further for celiacs I had to eat the equivalent of four pieces of bread a day (which I just couldn't handle). Since my diabetes is in the early stages I can not be medicated but have to live on a low GI diet for the rest of my life. Upon further tests for celiacs disease and months of putting gluten in my body and making myself so sick that I could hardly function, my tests still came back inconclusive. 

This whole journey has been so incredibly emotional. I've been angry that my body was giving out on me. I've been feeling depressed because I look awful, I feel awful and I felt like there was never going to be an end to this dark tunnel. I wasn't being the kind of mother I wanted to be. I wasn't being the kind of partner I wanted to be. I was constantly exhausted. Constantly angry. Constantly picking fights. And constantly secluding myself from everyone because I didn't like the way I looked. I cried every time I took K to the park and someone asked when I was due. I refused to let people take pictures of me and then felt disheartened when I realized I didn't have a single photo of my son and I since his first birthday nearly a year ago. I cried every time I was stuck in the bathroom with the runs or vomiting. I was tired of not being able to eat any of the food I enjoyed. I lay awake at night unable to sleep because I worried that I wouldn't be able to be around for my son. I worried about our finances because we are constantly struggling and my health was just another burden and a huge financial strain. We can't afford to eat the way I need to. We can't afford the doctors bills. We just can't afford any of it. And then the guilt started to set in and all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep all day. No matter how much sleep I got when I awoke I was still exhausted and still hurting. I lost hope that it would ever get any better.

Finally I got enough confidence in myself to trust my gut and worked up enough courage to change my life. I began researching as much as I could. Surely there had to be a reason for my exhaustion, nausea, bloating & cramping, flatulence, eczema, constipation, diarrhea, severe headaches, aching muscles, heartburn, always too hot or freezing cold, bloodshot and yellowish eyes, lack of energy and failing eye sight. Not to mention every time I cut myself it would take a month or more to heal and I'd be left with a scar. Sure enough, there was that awful word kicking me right in the face again-GLUTEN. So I worked up the willpower to stop eating it. And you know what? I got better.

I still have good days and bad days because gluten is sneaky stuff. I've had to experiment with a lot of different products, change all of our toiletries (Can you believe there was gluten in our toothpaste and shampoo?!) and even change our cooking utensils and dishes. But the change has been instant. I have energy. I sleep at night. I don't hurt. I don't look pregnant anymore. The severe dry skin patches are gone. My hair is going curly again. My skin is glowing and I am not struggling to read this computer screen as I write this! What a change a week can make.

Even though I feel better it is a constant struggle not to grab onto the comfort foods that I love. It's overwhelming grocery shopping and trying to read the labels and it takes me three times as long to get it done. But it's all worth it.

As it turns out I'm not the only one with gluten intolerance in my family. My son is nearly two and has had four/five bowl movements a day since he was born, all of which have been diarrhea. He doesn't sleep well at all-sometimes he wakes up more than twenty times a night! And during the day he has been challenging because he is constantly cranky, getting into trouble and throwing temper tantrums. I wish I knew then what I know now.

After one week on a g-free diet he is waking up only once or twice a night and only because he wants his pacifier (which I think we can now start weaning him from). He is calm and can concentrate during the day. He is happy and willing to play independently. He has thrown only one temper tantrum in the entire week. We even went out for dinner the other night and he sat there happily eating his entire meal and colouring his pictures while we waited for our food. It's like I have a completely different child!

If I can offer any advice to those of you that aren't feeling good and have the same symptoms as I had, or have a child that doesn't sleep, can't concentrate or is hard to handle it would be to cut out gluten. It's honestly in almost everything we eat and in a lot of the products that we use every day. The results in our house have been nothing short of amazing and could be seen almost instantly.  It is thought that one in three people are living with gluten intolerance but most do not know it. It could be YOU. 

The stresses of the day just don't seem so big anymore. Sure, we might not have a house to live in next week and maybe my partner and I won't be together forever. But you know what? None of that really matters anymore. Because we are still here. And now we can start living again. The universe can start closing doors, opening new ones and giving me whatever challenges it needs to in order to learn the lessons that I'm here to learn because I am strong and NOW I can handle it. Will there be bad days? Probably. Will living this new lifestyle be hard? Absolutely. But I am not going to let some silly gluten get me down or burden my family and I anymore. 

I look forward to blogging about our journey of going gluten free from now on and I hope that I can share, inspire and hopefully change the lives of those of you who can relate or who are willing to listen.
I'm linking to some of these parties.


  1. Hey Jen. Just wanted to say that Jeff and I are really happy you have found a solution to your health issues. Please keep posting tips, I think it could help me out a bit too. All the best.

    Ps I love your blog and teaching ideas- hopefully I'll get a chance to use them someday.

  2. Wow - so sorry you have had to go through all that and congratulations and well done for taking care of yourself.

  3. I'm so glad that you and your son are both feeling better, and you really are looking better too. Your skin is positively glowing! Gluten is so sneaky, you're right, it is hidden in SO MUCH! Celiac Disease runs in my family as well. I have 2 neices, and a cousin living with it, and I have a cousin and great aunt who were sick constantly and ended up dying of unknown causes (before celiac was so well known), who we believe were effected by it as well. I'm glad you found a restaurant that offers gluten free meals. Some places have seemingly gluten free menu options, but are prepared on unsafe surfces. I'm sure you've been doing your research, but I'm going to share anyway. :) Watch out for antibiotics, several contain gluten, and the pharmacist wont necessarily know, you will have to read the package yourself. I hope you share more about this in future posts. It may not be a happy, go lucky topic, but it is reality, and talking about it could help others. :) I'd write more but my son is up. I hope you feel better every day!

  4. P.S. If you're into chocolate cake or brownies, here's a great gluten free recipe that doesn't use expensive gluten free flours, plus it's high in protein, so should be good with your pre-diabetes: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Garbanzo-Bean-Chocolate-Cake-Gluten-Free/Detail.aspx

    It's made with garbanzo beans rather than flour, but you'd never know, it's moist and yummy. My very picky cook of a husband even likes it!

  5. thank you for sharing - it is always relieving to find a source for the struggles. i can't wait to learn more about your journey and how the changes help you and your family!

  6. Awww Jenn, thanks for sharing your story! I am so glad you figured it out and are feeling so much better. You look great!

  7. I have so many thoughts running through my mind, I'll just blurt them out as they come. First, you're beautiful! I've definitely had those periods of time in my life when I didn't want anyone to look at me. I'm so sorry you felt this way and that you felt so incredibly ill for so long. It's so understandable that you were so sad - sickness is such an isolating thing. I'm very happy to know you found out what was hurting you and that you're feeling better. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Hugs to you!

    Counting Coconuts

  8. Thank you all for the kind words and tips. I really appreciate all of the support! x

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story & I'm thrilled you found a solution, no matter how difficult. I'm so sorry you had to go through such a rough spell to be happy again. You know everyone who loves your blog will be interested to hear how your gorgeous family adapts. xx

  10. Glad you are feeling better! Hope the g-free diet keeps working!

  11. Wow. SO glad you got it figured out. I know several people on G-Free diets and I've seen (although not experienced) how hard it can be. And I've seen kids that have acted autistic becasue of their gluten intolerance. I'm SO GLAD you figured it out, for both you and your little guy!

  12. My daughter tested positive for celiac a couple of years ago and has learned a whole new way of life. She feels so much better now. I'm waiting for test results myself. The diet has not been all that hard for my daughter, and she's the healthiest she's been in years. I wish you luck as you learn this new way to eat. It's great that you can start your son off on the right track for his best health. Best wishes!

  13. Wow, you and I sound like the same person! Are you my twin? My mom follows your blog and after she read this post, she told me I had to read it because you and I have much of the same struggles. I have celiac disease, as well. I found out a little over a year ago. For 15 years, I would get sick after I ate. I was always getting severe stomach cramping and diarrhea. It got to where I was terrified to eat anything and I never wanted to get on an airplane, go on vacation, go camping, go on road trips, go anywhere where I wasn't near home because I was afraid of getting sick. I finally requested a celiac blood panel and it came back abnormal. Instead of continuing to eat gluten and having the intestinal biopsy done, I just cut gluten out of my diet. The improvment was immediate! I haven't gotten sick in over a year and I feel great! Also, I understand financial woes. Believe me! My diet is a financial strain on my husband and I. We spend a lot of our paycheck on specialty foods for me. We are always broke. But, it is well worth it - I am a better mother and wife when I feel good - and I have learned to cook dinners without gluten. We don't eat out because of my diet (and it is cheaper to eat at home!) and I don't trust restaurants unless they have a gluten-free menu. I don't bake things that require a bunch of different flours and xantham gum. It is cheaper for me to buy mixes, like Betty Crocker's new baking mixes. Or, I will just use an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix and deal with the fact that my baked goods don't look perfect. If you need anything or have any questions, let me know! My email is amoeidson@yahoo.com or you can contact me on my blog! Take care of yourself!

  14. Good on you for having the guts to go gluten free. I have had a lot of tummy issues but just can't quite bring myself to go gluten free. I admire anyone who has the self awareness and self control to better their lives. YOU ROCK!

  15. So glad you are feeling better. Even if you don't test positive for celiac disease you still definitely have a gluten sensitivity. I'll forward you my gluten-free vanilla cupcake recipe. It's definitely better to make your own from scratch instead of buying expensive mixes. Try the asian stores in the area for gluten-free flours. They are usually cheaper but they won't have as many organic flours though. Asian stores will also have rice or bean noodles. Just be careful of soy sauce. Use tamari instead.
    Here's a recipe for GF pancakes http://www.almostcrunchy.com/2010/05/gluten-free-pancakes/. Good luck!

  16. well done on listening to your body, I was diagnosed with insulin resistance and some other stuff and my daughter gluten intolarent so i also did some of my own research and trusted my gut and we are now a gluten free family - shopping will get easier and quicker - you get used to not buying bread and buy rice cakes and corn thins and gluten free breads and flours... it is all so do-able - But all takes practice.
    I you would like some recipes feel free to hop over to my blog and take a look http://bettybakeblog.blogspot.com
    gluten free and sometimes sugar free too :)
    well done to you - you are a better mom for doing all that you have done :)
    congrats and happy health

    Betty Bake

  17. Wow, way to take a load off. I'll bet it felt great to get all of that off of your chest! Congratulations to you for so many many reasons. I've been in a bit of a funk myself this passed week and you have inspired me to shake it off and get up and do something about it. I'm really intrigued about your gluten free journey. I have a daughter who may benefit from trying a gluten free diet. I'd be curious to know how you went gluten free the first week and what some of the things you fed your family were. It's not the sort of thing you can just reduce and see a difference is it? Kind of an all or nothing kind of thing.
    Anyway, I'm so super proud of you and if I were there I would give you a {{{{Great Big Hug}}}} We were hooking up there for awhile and somehow you fell of my radar. Adding you to my reader now so I don;t miss a thing! See you soon,


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