How did I become gluten-free?
It all started around my junior year of high school, I would get these awful stomach aches. They were very painful, would come on suddenly, and would last hours. They usually happened at night-time, but were very sporadic. Through my last years of high school my stomach started to dictate my life, what I could do and when I should eat. Of course at that point, we deduced that fatty foods were the culprit and started to eat less greasy foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables, but nothing seemed to help. I also tried cutting dairy from my diet and did a white rice diet of easily digestible foods, but still the symptoms persisted.
Before I went off to my freshman year of college, my parents took me to the doctor, who didn’t seem to think it was a big deal and diagnosed me with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). IBS is a catchall term for stomach/ GI issues. My stomach issues continued through college and started to affect me more and more. I even had to sit out on a few volleyball games at Franciscan, because of the sharp pain in my abdomen.
Fast forward to graduation from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and I decided to dedicate the next year of my life to Maggie’s Place, a home of hospitality for expectant women. I was excited for this new challenge in my life and had no idea that my health would get in the way.
My year of mission work began in July of 2012 in Phoenix, AZ. Upon arrival I met 2 of my roommates who were gluten-free. I was interested in learning about their diets (at this point I wanted to go to Nutrition grad school) and what they eat. Back to my story, through the year, my stomach aches seemed to get worse and I started losing weight. I would get bouts of sickness with nausea and vomiting so intense I was brought to urgent care 3 times in a span of about 8 months. My mom and dad came to visit in the end of May and my mom took one look at me and declared I looked “emaciated.” In her defense in the past year I had lost almost 20 pounds.
After they left, I knew it was time for me to go home and take care of myself and figure out what was going on. The doctors were about to take my gallbladder out when they did an allergy test (why this was not done earlier?). I found I was allergic to wheat. I cut out wheat from my diet in July 2013 and oh my goodness it was AMAZING. I did not have constant stomach aches and food was starting to nourish my body again!