Hi. Feeling very sick and in desperate need of help.
About a year ago, my IBS-like symptoms were worse than they'd ever been, and I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong. I was eating copious amounts of gluten and wheat products every day - countless PB&J sandwiches, toast, cereals, pasta, etc. (I was a big wheat bread eater because I was a vegetarian, and PB&J is a convenient non-meat food to take to school for lunch.) The biggest issue for me was frequent gas and bloating. Other than that, I only had occasional diarrhea usually related to panic attacks, but I normally had one or two healthy poops a day.
I thought I'd cut out gluten for awhile just to see if I felt better. I really did initially. I also lost about 10 lbs., probably because I was eating less overall, and compensating for the lack of starches in the bread with healthier options like fruits and veggies. I assume that's why I felt better at first. But then I kept having problems after awhile. It got to the point where I started cutting out food group after food group, growing more and more paranoid that it was this or that. I lost 20 more lbs. unintentionally, then lost more intentionally, because this stuff is a sick cycle, and I'm now underweight and fatigued all the time.
I eventually went to see a gastroenterologist as a last desperate effort to diagnose my problem. He did an endoscopy, took biopsies, took a blood test, and a stool sample. All of them came back negative for Celiac disease or gluten intolerance. I had not been eating gluten or wheat for almost a whole year at this point, though. I've read that this makes a difference. Does not having any gluten in your system guarantee a false negative?
Anyway, after he told me the 'good' news that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, I felt a bit encouraged. I was at that point (and still am) a vegan, so being a gluten-free vegan left me with not a lot of food options. Funny enough, going vegan was the best thing for me as far as managing my symptoms. All of the symptoms that going gluten free didn't cure were pretty much cured by going vegan.
So, I've been wanting to eat more normally, and since my doc gave me the OK, I've been trying to slowly reintroduce gluten into my diet again. The results:
First time, had half a slice of whole grain bread - felt okay for the first few hours, but later that night it felt like I'd swallowed a potato whole. Bloated, nauseous, and miserable.
Second time, had a tiny handful of bran flakes. Same effects, but less severe.
Third and fourth time - had some small pieces of whole grain crackers, felt no reaction except for a bit of bloating. Very mild.
Fourth, fifth, and sixth times - had half to a full slice of whole wheat bread with fruit and peanut butter and some tea with ginger and peppermint to ease the transition. No stomach cramps this time and slightly less bloating, but I got very constipated. Then I took a laxative and some fiber supplements and even an enema (because I can't stand the feeling of being constipated, even for just a day; I'm such a baby), and I actually had to leave work early because I'm going to the bathroom every few minutes, ughghh. I know. I overdid it.
What's going on? I'm clearly reacting to either the wheat or the gluten or both, but I don't know if it's because I'm legitimately gluten intolerant or sensitive or if it's because it's just a shock to my body after not eating it for so long. (I can eat heaps of non gluten-free oatmeal and have no adverse reaction at all.) I'm going to give my body a little break for a few days, and then maybe try eating a bit of bread again to see if I get used to it.
I'm pretty upset. Going gluten-free was probably the worst decision of my life, because I was processing it without much problem before, and now I react so badly to it. It's really an issue because I can't tell you how much I miss sandwiches, and I can't find gluten-free and vegan-friendly bread anywhere. My doctor really got my hopes up, and now I'm feeling really discouraged. My family seems to think that I should stick with my original plan of gradually reintroducing gluten into my diet to get myself used to it again, which I felt like was possible since my stomach cramps went away eventually.
My questions are: do you think there is any getting used to it? If so, do you have any tips on how to go about doing this? Is it possible my doctor misdiagnosed me? Did I "sensitize" myself to gluten or wheat by eating so damn much of it before?
Not one person in my family has Celiac disease or is gluten sensitive or intolerant, so I don't have the genes for it. I'm just praying I can eat bread again someday. Am I in denial?