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Going Gluten-Free (Again): Because Migraines Are Just Not Fun!

So a long time ago (back in May) I wrote about the gluten-free diet and my experience with it. I got back into the gluten-free diet in April and I kept it up solidly for about two and a half months. I felt great. I wasn’t getting headaches, I had more energy, I was happier. Life was good.

Around the end of June things started to fall apart a bit. I had a new boyfriend who was supportive of my desire to be healthy and feel good, but skeptical of fad diets and wary that I hadn’t seen a family doctor in a few years. I was going out and spending time with friends and GF options were not always available. I felt bad turning down food provided for me at parties or as a thank-you for helping with moving and painting. I didn’t prepare by bring along my own GF lunches to days out or to work. Eating GF is expensive, especially if you use substitute products or do your own GF baking. Eating GF is time consuming because you can’t rely on instant or frozen meals.

For much of June and July I was in a weird limbo where I was mostly GF but I ate wheat gluten sometimes two or three times a week. My headaches and fatigue came back, though they were still pretty mild. I started trying to keep track of when I ate wheat and when I got headaches; they came pretty reliably a day or two after eating something with gluten.

At the beginning of August, I decided that I was tired of being in limbo and that I was going to go hardline one or the other: G or GF. I ended up choosing to go back to eating wheat, because it was easier, and because I have a doctor’s appointment coming up and I know that any tests they could possibly do would have a better chance of showing whether I was gluten sensitive or not if there was gluten in my system.

Let me tell you. Worst. Decision. Ever.

Within two weeks, my headaches were back to their previous frequency (two-three times per week) and my energy plummeted. My acne got way worse, and I began to experience arbitrary cramps and body aches. My congestion got worse, as did a bunch of other things that I don’t need to discuss with the internet. With the exception of a week of vacation where I was eating mostly GF since my other GF friend was along, I have felt pretty crappy overall since quitting the GF diet.

It all kind of came to a head last night. I ended my work day with a debilitating headache, my second that week (the first came on Sunday and put me out of commission for hours). My head was pounding, I felt nauseated, I was dizzy. Medication was doing nothing. Even the little soothing heated herb bag that I borrow from my roommate, which is usually my saving grace, was doing nothing to dull the ache. I spent half an hour on the phone crying to Matt because of the pain and the frustration. Why was this happening to me? Why the constant headaches, the pervasive exhaustion, the general feeling of ickiness?

“This didn’t happen as often when I was on the gluten-free diet,” I said hesitantly.

“I know. I thought about that too,” he replied.

That was a comfort–to know that he noticed it too, that I wasn’t making things up. Because I’m convinced. Whatever the doctor says on Monday, when I have my appointment, I’m going back to the GF diet. I said in my first post about it, back in May, that the best way to see if it will help you is to try it. Well, I tried it, and then I went back, and going back has solidified it for me even more.

So, to my friends and family, I ask for your support and your respect. Don’t tell me that you think the gluten-free diet is ridiculous. Don’t suggest that we go to Panera Bread or Noodles & Co or other bread-heavy restaurants. If you invite me to a party, kindly provide GF options or ask if I could bring my own, which I will happily do. And please, don’t be offended when I turn down those cookies you made. Trust me, I really want to eat them. I just don’t want to pay for it later.

2 thoughts on “Going Gluten-Free (Again): Because Migraines Are Just Not Fun!

  1. If you’re ever looking for tips on things to eat at restaurants that don’t seem GF-friendly, shoot me a text or something. I can only count a handful of places (mostly straight bakeries, creperies, etc) that I’ve encountered in 4 years that have really had no GF options (even Noodles & Co. has more than it seems). Also, if you ask Panera they’ll show you their giant book of soup ingredients, haha.

    1. Haha thanks Caroline, I will! One of the things I have to get over is my reluctance to ask about GF options at restaurants.

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