It’s hard for me to believe that this September will have been a year since I started my journey to healing, but it feels more like ten! I have been blessed with an amazing doctor who has taken the time to not only test me for everything under the sun, but work with my diet to figure out the best healing foods for my body. From day one she basically told me exactly what this picture shows….
The first round of tests showed us all the foods my body was negatively reacting to. In other words, I had an intolerance and had to eliminate them from my diet. Because there were so many on the list that I reacted to it was obvious we were dealing with a severe leaky gut, thus, my doctor immediately insisted that I take a Celiac genetics test then follow up with both an endoscopy and colonoscopy. The genetics test came back positive and the other two tests confirmed and showed lots of inflammation as well as damaged lining to my intestines. Not exactly the best news I wanted to hear, but was thankful to have the answers I had been looking for for so many years. Obviously there was more that had to be done than just eliminating gluten from my diet!
So, where do I go from here? At the time things seemed to go from bad to worse, but I knew I had the choice to be grateful or wallow in self pity. When my doctor started handing me all of the supplements she wanted me to start taking (I am now up to 22 pills a day!) and writing up specific directions as to what I could eat and what I need to be avoiding, my first reaction was self pity. How could I possibly do this? The list of foods just went from small to smaller. Long story short, I went from eliminating the food intolerances first (lettuce, spinach, grapes, celery, peaches, raspberries, chocolate, parsley, dill, etc…), then I took out foods high in salicylates (think cosmetics, lotions, hairspray, gum, all dried fruits, tomatoes, peppers, almond, coconut oil, honey, pineapple, etc..) and lectins (think grains, legumes, and dairy). Next it was foods that were high in sulfates (think shampoo, toothpaste, dried fruit, eggs, mushrooms, juice, jams, etc…). I now have gluten, sulfate/sulfite, paraben and wheat free shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion, makeup, deodorant, hairspray and body wash as do the girls so I can help the youngest princess with her showers!
After several months of eliminating and re-introducing foods, I was still having severe stomach pain along with extreme fatigue, emotional ups and downs, and weight loss. So, with the addition of some new supplements to aid in digestion and increase my serotonin levels my doctor said it was imperative that I give my gut a bit of a break. Thus, came the joy of pureeing my food…everything! Baby food here I come…applesauce, dairy free yogurt, bone broth, steamed/boiled veggies blended with turkey and/or chicken and smoothies. The idea was to allow my gut to rest and do the least amount of work to digest any food. I’d have to admit for as hard as it has been this is the best I have felt in a long while!
In any case I have learned this is serious stuff…not something I can take lightly and fix over night! It’s definitely been a lifestyle change for not only me, but my family as well. Celiac disease is going to follow me for the rest of my life, but I choose to not let it define who I am. Struggle as I may physically, emotionally and spiritually, I have to press on and be grateful for what I do have instead of letting myself focus on all the things that have been taken away.
I am grateful for…
My two little princesses who have seen me at my lowest point physically and emotionally, but continued to lift me up in prayer and bring a smile to my face!
My hubs who has been my rock (besides Jesus!), my prayer warrior and my greatest source of encouragement through all the pain and suffering! I honestly don’t know what I would do without him and praise Jesus for the man that he is today!
The food that I can eat, even though it comes in pureed form and often looks disgusting (this is sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, onions, garlic, homemade bone broth and turkey meat…just cook and blend baby!)! Believe it or not so far everything I have made has tasted pretty good.
Big batches of pureed goodness (or “mush” as the girls would call it) that I can pull out of the freezer and warm up while I spend time preparing the rest of the family’s meal! Once it’s cooked at least it is quick and easy to serve!
Homemade chai tea…yummo! It’s been my sweet indulgence (pour it over ice and add a splash of vanilla almond milk) instead of cookies or ice cream!
And God who continues to hold my hand and comfort me along the way. I know He has a plan for me and while I am not sure how He can use me as broken as I am or when He will use me, the timing is in His hands. So, with as much faith as I can muster I continue to let God prune and prepare me while I wait!
It is simply incredible that a disease so debilitating and potentially fatal can be triggered by something so small and seemingly innocent as a bread crumb! Feed me gluten and the lining of my small intestine begins to break down leading to an array of not so pleasant symptoms (I will spare you the details!). If allowed to progress over time (for me it was many, many years!), celiac sufferers often become unable to absorb nutrients, lose weight, and develop several nutritional deficiencies (I am currently battling deficiencies of protein, fatty acids, folate and several amino acids).
Having Celiac Disease is something I can’t change, but this last year has certainly been a time of growth for me. Through lots of prayer,support from family and friends, trust and surrendering my struggles over to God my perspective has begun to change. He continues to fill in the gaps when I feel like I don’t have much to offer. I know I will still have days when I feel like I can’t make it through the day, but prayerfully they will be fewer and far between!
Here are a few great resources for Celiac, the Paleo lifestyle and the Gluten-Free Diet:
Here’s a great article about gluten by Dr. Marc Hyman that is worth the read.
But chai tea doesn’t! Here’s the recipe in case you want to indulge with me…
Chai Tea Concentrate
4 cups of water
3 whole cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
5 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods, crushed
4 Tbsp. coconut crystals (you might could try honey, but I can’t vouch for the taste!)
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle (or 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract)
1-inch piece of fresh ginger (more or less depending on how “spicy” you prefer)
4 black tea bags
Place all ingredients into medium saucepan, except for the tea bags.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer with lid on for 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat, uncover and place 4 tea bags in the mixture. Let steep 5 minutes.
Strain liquid into glass container and let cool to room temperature. Cover and place in fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!