Francesca stopped by the VeganTourGuide podcast and shared her cool journey to a Plantbased – Vegan Diet and the differences it made in her health and life and how she has been able to take her experiences and see first hand how she has been able to help others. Click below to listen to the podcast and then you’ll find a great Blog Post she did on her site: http://Www.YoungBrokeAND.com
MY GLUTEN FREE STORY
For some reason, I’ve noticed that whenever I tell someone I’m gluten free I am always asked the same few questions, “Why? What made you want to do that? Do you have Celiac Disease? Or are you just trying to diet?”
This is usually super annoying because it’s honestly no ones business why exactly I choose to eat a certain way. People seem to want to know if there’s more to being gluten free than just being annoying at restaurants for the sake of being trendy. But I’ve also come across a lot of genuine people who suspect they may have a gluten intolerance but they’re not sure if going gluten free is really worth it.
So here is my story from the beginning and I’m so thankful that I’m able to write it and share it. I guess it started with my eczema growing up. For as long as I can remember, I would have terrible eczema breaks outs on my arms and legs. Sometimes it was so bad that it would bleed and ooze pus, which definitely doesn’t help when you’re trying to make friends as a kid. Additionally, I had such trouble concentrating in school that I was put on ADHD medication and would stay on this for the next 16 years even though I felt it completely took away my personality and made me a zombie.
However, the biggest struggle in my life has been depression. I went through bouts in grade school and high school but I always thought it was situational and that I would come out of it once the mean girls at school went away. It wasn’t until college that it was apparent I needed some type of professional help. I was simultaneously irritated with everything and indifferent to living. I was overcome with a feeling of hopelessness for the future and would spend days in bed alternating between crying and sleeping. I went on my first anti-depressant when I was a sophomore in college and it definitely helped. However, the problem with those drugs is you always need more and the higher my dose the worse the side effects. Each was different but usually they required me to take another med to ease the unpleasantness. I then spent the next few years convincing myself I didn’t need the meds and then breaking down and going back on them when my family would tell me they couldn’t take being around me without them. I guess being numb was better than being a horrible bitch to everyone all the time. My doctors had also convinced me that I was just someone with “loaded genetics,” because there was a history of depression on both sides of my family, and that I would need to be on an anti-depressant for the rest of life. “If you had diabetes and had to take a pill every day you wouldn’t object right? It’s the same thing,” he told me. I fully understand that this is the case for some people and I am not suggesting that anyone is weak for staying on medicine. However, for me, nothing was worse than feeling numb. I finally decided I was going off the meds for good and that I could eat healthy and exercise enough to keep the scaries away. This helped but the depression was starting to creep back in and I was contemplating making an appointment with my psychiatrist to try yet another drug. I have always been every open about my struggle with depression because I believe we need to end the stigma and stop making people with mental illness feel like it’s somehow their fault. And thank goodness I risked making one of my Mom’s friends uncomfortable by telling her, “Sorry I’m no fun tonight, I’m off my meds and I’ve been really depressed lately.” She then told me how she had actually written her master’s thesis on the effect of wheat on depression. What?? I had spent years researching how to get rid of depression and trying every supplement I could find to possibly help. How could my sprouted whole grain wheat bread have anything to do with me fantasizing about ending my life? I thought it sounded a little too far fetched and besides, my avocado toast was healthy, right?
Around this same time, my body had started another life threatening trick. About every couple weeks for seemingly no reason after eating I would go into anaphylactic shock and have to get to an ER before my throat completely closed up. I went to an allergist and did the blood tests and prick tests to try and uncover any possible allergies. Apparently I had none and they gave me a diagnosis of idiopathic anaphylaxis, which basically means they have no idea what I’m allergic to, just that it almost kills me. Cool. My only option seemed to be going on prednisone to suppress my immune system so that if I did eat whatever it was, I probably wouldn’t have a bad reaction. Want to know the side-effects of prednisone? Weight gain and moodiness, sounds like exactly the thing someone with depression wants to add to their life, right?
After refusing to go on prednisone I was recommended to a chiropractor who specializes in Applied Kinesiology and is able to “muscle test” for food allergies. I was intrigued even though my parents thought I was wasting my money going to a “witch doctor.” I went and according to her, my body was reacting very badly to wheat and gluten. Huh? Now I had two reasons why I should give up wheat.
The next day I went cold turkey and gave up all gluten. If I hadn’t actually experienced the difference myself I would have never believed it. My parents can attest to the fact that within about a week, I had become a completely different person. No one dreaded being in a room with me anymore. I was actually smiling and getting excited about life again. I stopped going into anaphylactic shock and my eczema disappeared. Today, I’m off every medication and I’ve honestly never felt better. Of course I still have good days and bad days like everyone else but I hardly ever deal with the extreme unexplained anger or intense drowsiness like I did before. Needless to say, going back to eating gluten isn’t an option for me.
So here I am, just living my gluten free life one bite at a time. Only problem is I found out it’s a lot more complicated than just giving up wheat. So began the research and the freak out that I was never going to be able to eat out like a “normal” person again. It’s tough in the beginning and I had no idea how much there was to learn! I plan to lay it all out on the table and try to make this lifestyle as simple as possible for everyone. But above all, I hope this blog makes you laugh, shows you that being gluten free isn’t the drag it seems to be and inspires you to be unapologetically yourself.
I’d love to hear about your gluten free stories! How did you find out? How did going gluten free change your life? See you in the comments! Xx Francesca
**Disclaimer: I am absolutely not suggesting that all mental illness can be cured with diet. This was just my personal experience. Please do not go off prescribed medicines unless instructed by your doctor. It took me weeks to ween off of mine and I did so under the supervision of my psychiatrist. I also do not look down on anyone who has to take medicine to improve the quality of their lives. I share this story because no one told me that wheat and depression could be linked and if by sharing my experience, even one person dramatically improves the quality of their life, with or without medication, than I consider it a win. I’m not a doctor but I truly believe that our guts and our minds are a lot more connected than we think. And that holistic remedies should be considered before taking prescription drugs.
Have questions for me? Ask me in the comments! Or shoot me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂