Humans are creatures of habit. I believe that because I generally wake up each morning at the same time and go through my routine like clockwork. There is a comfortable rhythm to it and I could probably go through all those motions in the first fifteen minutes with my eyes closed. What happens when my routine is interrupted? It seems to throw the whole morning off.
It’s the same with any change though. For the past year or two I’ve noticed changes in my body that, while minor, are nonetheless disturbing. Did I mention it to my doctor at my annual check-up? No, because I didn’t feel it was important enough. I got a clean bill of health after my blood test results came back so why ask questions? The fact that I feel bloated all the time must be because I drink coffee in the morning. The reason I make so many trips to the bathroom during the day is because I drink a lot of water. I feel full after a small meal because I had too much fiber. I offered many excuses for the reason I wasn’t feeling my best and was slowly gaining weight every couple of years; I was “getting older.”
Being a creature of habit, I did not want to change my routine. However, after making mental notes and eventually keeping a journal, I noticed my digestive problems were directly related to either certain foods I ate, when I ate them or how much I consumed. Before reporting these findings to my doctor, I chose to play detective. If I changed what I ate, when and how much I ate, I should be able to determine which of the foods I consumed on a regular basis is the culprit.
My first attempt at discovery was trying Activia brand yogurt. The claim on their website http://www.activia.us.com/ is that Activia “is made with the exclusive probiotic culture, Bifidus Regularis® (Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010) and can help naturally regulate your digestive system.” After two weeks, I actually felt worse, so that didn’t work. Then I tried to eliminate cheese, ice cream and other milk products from my diet to see if I was still Lactose-intolerant as I had been throughout my teens and twenties. Two weeks later, no change. My third trial will begin the first week of October when I’m back from a short vacation and more able to carefully assess what I eat and how it affects me.
This third experiment concerns gluten. The reason I may be having digestive problems could be that I have Celiac Disease. “Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001280/
With the help of a registered dietitian, I intend to follow a gluten-free diet for three weeks. We are developing a meal plan which takes into account information from medical journals, research studies and scholarly reports.
I first heard of this disease from a baker on a segment of a Martha Stewart show. She described how she was diagnosed with Celiac disease several years prior and created a cookbook with dessert recipes which were gluten-free. Shortly thereafter, I heard one of “The View” talk show hosts speak of her ordeal with the disease. I thought to myself, this may be the ailment I have. The only way of knowing for sure without having to undergo formal testing is take the route similar to allergy testing. I am going to avoid foods containing gluten for three weeks and see if I notice a change. Then I will contact my physician and advise him of my findings.
Here comes the difficult part. As previously mentioned, it is tough to change a habit or routine. I’ll need to stay positive and focus on how good I’ll feel once I eliminate gluten from my diet if in fact gluten is the cause of my problems. Personally, the most challenging part will be avoiding bread, cakes, cookies, pasta, salad dressing, sauces and soups plus a few other food products. That pretty much covers everything I’m used to eating.
In order for me to feel better, I’ll need to be committed to change. Replacing foods in my diet with those my digestive tract can handle will ultimately help me achieve optimum health. I am still not certain I do have Celiac disease. On the other hand, what could be so bad about revising my diet for three weeks? If it doesn’t work, I can always revert to my prior dietary habits.
In the meantime, I’m having fun putting together a variety of meals that I’ll enjoy making and eating. I am equipped with an arsenal of cookbooks and products specially designed for those who must follow a restricted gluten-free diet. One drawback to this plan is that it is more expensive. Foods that are marketed to the “health conscious” generally cost more. Time will tell if my little investigative plan succeeds and so will my waistline. I’m hoping for the best.
“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.” ~ Victor Hugo