Oh how I have struggled this week. Every night I woke multiple times to intense pain in my hands and wrists. Many years ago, I went to the doctor with this issue. My mother had needed surgery for her carpal tunnel, and I figured that since I was around the same age as her when she had surgery, it was just an aging thing. Surgery is always scary. Unnecessary surgery is one of my biggest fears.
Around this same time I was researching the effect of gluten on the immune system of someone with Hashimoto’s. BING!! The light bulb finally lit up. I talked with my doctor and decided to go gluten-free for a month and see how I felt. Then I would decide whether or not to stay gluten free or add it back into my diet.
After a few weeks, I noticed a huge difference from giving up gluten. I was less bloated, I had more energy, I was in less chronic pain, I had lost some weight, and I felt kind of human! I had decided I felt so much better that I would stay gluten free without reintroducing gluten. Then, it happened. I accidentally ate something with wheat. My belly hurt so bad. I looked at the label of the food I had eaten, contains: Wheat. I could literally feel where the food was in my digestive system. Day one: Pain in my stomach area right below my ribs. Day two: Pain around my belly button. Day 3: Pain like menstrual cramps. Day 4: well, evacuation to put it nicely. Not only did I have gastrointestinal issues, but I had swelling all over. My “carpal tunnel” was back after being asymptomatic for weeks. I did not have to think twice about my decision to stay gluten free.
Well, this past week, my swelling has been so intense that I wake up at night crying from the pain. My hands constantly go numb, and my feet are swollen and itchy. I have zero energy, but no belly pain. What was happening?!?! I am overly cautious now on checking labels and never eating anything someone has made until I knew all of the ingredients.
Finally I put it all together. I had made Rice Crispy treats for the family. Then I ate Rice Crispy cereal for breakfast. Later that week I made Mexican rice for dinner. Every time I had more rice, I felt worse. I usually eat rice in very small amounts. Now, I was craving rice. So I decided to cut out the rice. I was feeling a little better, but because my immune system is on such high alert, every grain I eat now causes more inflammation. We had quinoa with dinner one night and I swelled more about an hour later. Last night we had homemade pizza, and later, I swelled.
Typically if I eat grains in small quantities, I am okay. The rice is clearly a trigger for my immune system and now my immune system needs to rest. So what I have learned, is that when my body is this inflamed, I need to avoid all grains for a week or two.
As you find your triggers, either by gastrointestinal issues following a meal, or systemic inflammation, give your immune system a break. Grains are all possible triggers. Paleo is a scary word. NO grains? Ouch.
My fiance is the one who is the most upset by my need to avoid grains for awhile. He is sad to think about no rice, potatoes, corn, quinoa, and other grains. Of course, I am creative so we will have the favorites with coconut flour and tapioca starches instead, but he doesn’t need to know that, does he?