I got the phone call in August and I knew what I was about to hear: “Jenna, you have a raging gluten sensitivity.” Just like that, I knew my world had changed… the girl known for mac and cheese, anything with bread, and the one who joked that she ate enough gluten for all of us was suddenly about to go gluten-free. I had tried to do it once as a diet and ordered one burger without the bun before falling back onto the gluten bandwagon but this time I knew it would be different… because I finally had confirmation of the thing I worried about, my body hated gluten and I needed to change.
What were the symptoms?
I was tired… and not just a little tired, I was exhausted every day. I felt like a walking case of mono and was actually developing anxiety because I was too worried to commit to anything for fear that I would be too tired to follow through. I was getting good sleep every night but I would crash around 11AM and be too tired to move, I couldn’t plan anything around the lunch hour and my team knew not to text me during my daily “nap time.”
I also was achy, so, so achy, I felt arthritic every day. Getting out of bed in the morning took some time and I would wobble my way to the bathroom. Everything hurt and I just thought that was normal… note to self: feeling like you’re 80 when you’re not even 30 isn’t normal. Lastly, my digestion was a mess. I won’t get into too many details here but let’s just say sister had nothing that could be considered “regular” in any way, shape, or form. So that was a big hint that something might not be working well with my body.
I never knew that gluten caused this…
A lot of people were confused when I announced that eliminating gluten was a huge piece of the fertility journey we are on. Before getting tested and having our two miscarriages, I didn’t realize that what I put in my mouth could affect so many things. Since my body is intolerant of processing gluten, the moment I would eat it, my cortisol levels (stress hormones) would spike and my body would go into fight or flight mode. Since my cortisol levels were so, so high, my hormones were out of wack.
My estrogen levels were high, my progesterone levels were low – which could have contributed to our losses. Gluten is an inflammatory so it was making my joints ache, my gut bloated. My blood sugar was all over the map which explained the mix between wired and tired.
How I made the change…
It’s wild because once I got the news, I was done. Literally, I haven’t cheated once in the last 100 days… not even a nibble. A switch went off in me that knew if I really wanted to feel better, if I was committed to progressing and hopefully helping my body be able to carry a pregnancy to term, I had to listen. Unluckily for me, I had just gone grocery shopping days before but reading the ingredients of most of my favorite foods made me realize how much gluten I had been consuming every single day. I immediately started hunting for healthy alternatives and committed to reading labels, both of these switches helped me become more aware of what I’m eating daily. Surprisingly, cooking gluten-free isn’t all that hard!
After 100 days, here’s what I can tell you.
I’m not going back… eating gluten-free has been eye-opening and at times frustrating (man, do I miss Subway bread) but it’s also been a powerful reminder that I can do anything I set my mind to. It’s opened my eyes to trying to understand how to optimize my health and to pay attention to how I am fueling my body. It has made me want to eliminate more things to see what I can do to feel my best and prepare my body for pregnancy.
I have more energy, I don’t take naps anymore (unless I’m jetlagged) and the fact that I am claiming back an hour of life each day and not having anxiety about my energy levels… that’s life-changing. I am still waiting to feel even “better” but getting my adrenal fatigue under control is something that I am constantly working towards and knowing that eliminating gluten is a piece of the puzzle? Heck yes, I am in and I’ll manage without wheat, just fine. GF is the way to be for this girl!