Saturday, October 20, 2012

The On Going Gluten Battle and IBS

I was pretty lucky when it came to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  It had never been a huge issue for me before or after my Fibromyalgia diagnoses.  I was always a relatively steady weight and I didn't have a lot of problems with constipation as far as pain was concerned.

But lately it's been a different story.  Now before I go into my story, I must say that I was never what I considered a healthy weight during my late teens and twenties.  I weighed at best 110 pounds.  My height is 5'4 and 3/4" so I wasn't severely underweight but I did push that at 20 when I weighed in at 92 pounds.  I had reasons for that weight loss and I'll delve into that era of my life one day, but this isn't the day.

My weight, at now, 120 pounds, was never really a huge issue before but it was shifting to my belly, hips, thighs, and fingers.  I wasn't completely alarmed at first because I figured my age (39) and stress might have something to do with it.  The weight shift (and I must stress that it was a shift and NOT gain) started to make things uncomfortable for me when it became hard to wear button-flied pants or jeans.  I was okay with sweat pants or the roomy grandma pants, but skinny jeans were out of the question. 

I tried to ignore the bloat and I was good at dismissing the painful gas and constant constipation because I thought it would just go away.  Two weeks went by and I wasn't experiencing any relief.  My pants were getting harder and harder to fit into and I nearly cried the day I was supposed to go out to my soon-to-be sister in-law's bachelorette party because I couldn't find anything that fit until I finally broke down and took a trip to the mall to buy a new pair of pants.

After I had recovered from the shopping ordeal I had decided to do a little research into my mysterious bloat.  I looked at the symptoms of IBS and they seem to fit the bill when it comes to my floating weigh bloat and painful stomach cramps but we shall see if a doctor feels as I do.

Having said that, you all know that a naturalistic diet has always been big with me, but I was shocked to see wheat on the good list for IBS.  I know many Fibromyalgia sufferers find it hard to consume wheat.  Eczema sufferers also find it hard too.  And many IBS sufferers tend to either have or develop Fibromyalgia.  Eczema or other common skin disorders have been present in Fibro patients but I don't believe it is as common as IBS since 30-70 percent of Fibro patients suffer from IBS.

Wheat is tough on Fibro because it's pretty much processed.  Some of it is Genetically Modified, some of it is bleached and refined (processed), and some of it is just not what grandma used to grow.  Now, I'm not saying that wheat is incredibly bad-- quite the contrary-- it's not.  Wheat has it's place.  BUT it is incredibly overused in today's American foods.  You find it in soups, salad dressings, breads, pastas, and in some cases, meat dishes.  It's almost nearly impossible to completely avoid it unless you are an incredibly diligent label reader or you go completely vegan.

Wheat and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love to eat pasta, bread, and everything else that's wheat, but my body hates it. My body is nice enough to show me from time to time exactly how much it hates it.  My eczema had been so bad lately that I found it hard to completely open my right hand due to the rash, redness, bleeding, swelling, irritation, and pain from my eczema.  It was horrible.  I knew the worst thing I could do was scratch, but I honestly couldn't help it.  The itch drove me so insane that there were days when I wondered if cutting off my arm would give me the relief I so desperately was seeking.

Even though I had crazy thoughts, I still tried to be positive and found some help with books on the subject.  They helped me to know that a humidifer was good in the winter. Indoor greenery and flowering plants were nice to have along with gloves for dish washing.  And skin cream was a must.  But no matter how diligent I was in all of these things, the itch just wouldn't stop until my neighbor suggested I try to abstain from wheat. 

I tried this and my skin cleared up.  I was happy but staying off of wheat was hard.  I liked it too much so I found myself cheating-- A LOT.  Feeling hungry from my lack of wheat didn't help matters either.  So I quickly found myself going back to my favorite wheat pastas and breads.  My skin problems came back and so did my irritation with my complete lack of will power.  I tried to settle and adjust to my itch problem but IBS started knocking at my door and that landed me right back to square one.

While researching IBS I found two sites that stated certain whole grains like wheat might be hard for IBS sufferers to digest.  Having read that I decided to go back to my wheat-free diet.  I've been doing okay mostly but I've had a few slip ups here and there, especially the past two days while getting ready for my brother's wedding.  My uncle has been in town and I cheated and ate clam chowder.  I was shopping for my dress and wound up eating eggplant parm in Italian sandwich bread and I also drank a beer.  My slip ups have not caused me a lot of IBS pain, in fact, my bloat is almost completely gone at this point, but I have been itchy. 

I'm not sure what I'll do from this point on with my love affair of wheat, but I know one thing... I'm going to try and find a way to feel fabulous-- no matter what!

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley
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