Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This just might take the cake.....

....literally.

Starting tomorrow, February 1st, I'm planning to eliminate gluten from my diet for the next 6 weeks. I know that gluten-free diets are trendy, but I have a practical reason for trying it: I've begun to suspect I might have dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin manifestation of celiac disease.

I've had terrible itchy rashes since my late teens, and the one dermatologist that I've seen (years ago) dismissed it as eczema with barely a glance. I haven't been comfortable wearing shorts or dresses (without hose or tights) for years now because my knees and ankles look terrible. And the itching is enough to drive you mad. Recently I've started getting patches in some new places (on my thighs and butt) and I'm almost desperate to find a way to stop it! All of the symptoms of DH seem to mesh with my experience, and they say it's very often misdiagnosed as eczema. Apparently very few people have digestive issues along with the skin rashes, so most doctors don't recognize it as celiac disease.

Getting an appointment with a dermatologist around here takes months, and I don't want to wait that long to find out if I do, indeed, have DH. All the sources of information I've found say not to eliminate gluten without having a skin biopsy first, because if you notice improvement you'll have to go back to eating gluten for 6 weeks to get a reliable diagnosis, but I don't care! It would take at least that long (probably longer) to arrange to get a skin biopsy done, and I might be wrong anyway. It could very well be simple eczema, and if so all I will have lost is a few weeks.

Luckily, I'm not a picky eater, and the main thing I'll be giving up will be convenience. I'm a little worried about that, but as long as I plan well and prepare all of my own food, it should be okay. A whole lot of processed simple carbs will be eliminated from my diet, which can only be a good thing, right?

(Guess what I'm having for dinner the night before I begin? Pancakes with maple syrup and sausage!! :) I love carbs and purposely chose the beginning of February so that my experiment will be over by my birthday at the end of March. Of course, if my skin clears up, I may have to go gluten free forever, but that would be a reasonable price to pay for clear, healthy skin!)

Does anyone here have experience with eliminating gluten from your diet? Or undiagnosed celiac disease? I would love to hear any thoughts or advice you might offer on the subject.

And please wish me luck!

*sniff*




37 comments:

  1. Ohhhhh good luck. I hope it makes a big difference.

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  2. I have nothing to add, except I wish you success.

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  3. As requested, I wish you good luck! The saying that we are what we eat is very true and sometimes our instincts surrounding food should be obeyed. If you cut gluten entirely from your diet and you see positive benefits then you may be able to bring it back into your diet - but reduced.

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    1. If I could have normal skin again without the maddening itch and the embarrassment of the way it looks, I would gladly cut out all gluten forever, if that's what it took!

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  4. My daughter has psoriatic arthritis and has indeed tried giving up gluten. It did not help a bit. And this may not have anything to do with what you are suffering. BUT- you owe it to yourself to try. There are lots of recipes using things like almond flour which are not bad, I understand. I wish you good luck.

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    1. Thanks Ms. Moon! Psoriatic arthritis is terrible, from what I understand. I'm sorry giving up gluten didn't help.

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    1. Mind if I ask why? Because from what I understand, for the vast majority of people limiting gluten doesn't really have much benefit, unless you're simply trying to eat fewer carbs.

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  6. I tried giving up gluten for health reasons. I stayed on it for 6 months. It did not help. But it was worth a try.
    I found a great gluten Bakery, read up on simple cooking. Like my Daughter who is a Vegetarian she/I learned what we could eat and what we could substitute. You have to stay on it for several months to see if it helps.
    Good Luck.

    cheers, parsnip and mandibles

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    1. I'm hoping that 6-8 weeks will be enough to have some idea of whether I'm wasting my time or not!

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  7. All the best, Jennifer! Luckily, I can eat anything I like - I just happen to not like a few things, such as certain types of meat and, strangely enough, salmon (in spite of liking fish, trout being my favourite).
    I hope your experiment brings the desired result. I know what it is like to suffer rashes and itches. When I was little, I had eczema on my hands and feet and was really badly affected by it. Doctors didn't seem to know what to do; they came up with contradictory ideas and therapies every few weeks - until with the onset of puberty, it disappeared on its own. Only when I was nearly 30 and went to a skin specialist for something else did I find out that I had been having neurodermitis all along. It has never come back as badly as it used to be, but when I am under stress or pressure (or FEEL I am), I start itching and scratching.

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    1. I've never heard of neurodermitis. Off to Google it!

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  8. I suffered with what seemed like eczema rashes on my face and palms of my hands for a few years, wondering what caused it. I went gluten free and after a month or so, the rashes went away. I remained gluten free for about a year, and went back to eating wheat in small amounts. So far so good. It is certainly worth the try! I had a nurse tell me that it might just be the pesticides on wheat rather than the wheat I had issues with. So hard to know. But eliminating it for a while and then limiting my wheat intake has helped. Good luck.

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    1. That's interesting, what the nurse said about pesticides. I've read a little about that but there doesn't seem to be much information out there. It's encouraging to know that you got relief from eczema after giving up gluten! Thank you for the comment!

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  9. I have never heard of this Jennifer, but I wish you good luck and success. Doctors in the UK are not good at advising on diet and, unless things have changed very recently, dietary considerations do not come into their heads when diagnosing!

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    1. I think it's very much the same way with doctors here, Rachel.

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  10. I understand you Jennifer. We know our own bodies more than a doctor can; what eating habits we have and what is good for us.
    I have psoriasis it's part of my multiple autoimmune desease. Ask your pharmacy about vitamin B12 if that can help too. I've been getting B12 injections after my treatment and my skin looks a lot better.
    Sugar too is not good and keep hydrated as much as possible, your skin could be very dry. Good luck Jennifer x
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. All very good advice, Maria, thank you!

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  11. Today, with grocery stores having whole aisles with gluten free food, it is easier to prepare a menu. I wish you luck and hope that it helps you.

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    1. I plan to try to stay away from too many prepared gluten alternative foods, simply because I've read about how they usually have lots of extra sugar and fat to make them taste more appealing. If I have to be gluten-free or gluten-light forever, then the occasional indulgence might be worth it, though. Thank you!

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  12. Dave has eliminated gluten, and he says it's helped with his Crohn's disease. Here's hoping it helps you, too! (If this proves to be a long-term thing, I wonder if you could simply reduce the amount of gluten you eat, rather than eliminating it entirely -- does it work like that? Then you could at least have an occasional pancake!)

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    1. I don't know how it works, I imagine it's different for different people. The occasional pancake might be necessary, though! :D

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  13. I too eat gluten free. I have Hashimoto's, an autoimmune thyroid disorder. At least here in Ohio, the market's gluten-free items are terribly expensive, so that was helpful in cutting them from my diet. Plus, I personally think the cookies/breads, for example, taste dreadful....again, makes it easier not to eat it. After a bit, it became just "normal"; I felt better and have lost weight, b/c for me not eating these gluten things means that I don't eat a lot of carbs. Instead of eating burritos, which I love, now I just eat the "insides" (the beans, the rice, the veggies, etc.). Much better for you, and you seriously do get used to it. Good luck!

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    1. I'm hoping that cutting out so any refined carbs from my diet will also help me take off a little weight. I love the idea of just eating the inside of burritos! Yum! The other night I had guacamole and 100% corn chips...Mexican is one of my favorite ethnic foods. :)

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  14. Great good wishes for success in going gluten free.

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  15. Good luck. I hope it works out for you. It's a little daunting at first but there are so many gluten free options out there right now that you should be able to satisfy most of your cravings.

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    1. There are plenty of GF options nowadays! I am lucky.

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  16. I've been contemplating this myself. I'd be interesting to see and hear your reactions to the change

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    1. I'll try to post updates weekly here on the blog!

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  18. Hi, I just found your blog via Sue's Cottage at the end of a lane. I have been gluten free for over a year, with the exception of receiving Communion at Mass. I had a rash that 6 different doctors were not able to resolve. I had suspected dermatitis herpetiformis after much research on my own. I must add that this happened to me after chemo and radiation, so I don't know if they had anything to do with it. But the rash went away, finally.
    My big issue is that almost all of the gluten free foods (and recipes!)contain xanthan gum or some other kind of gum. My poor tummy can't tolerate the gums. So I eat a lot of things homemade with oat flour or oatmeal and organic corn tortilla chips (way too many of those!) I did find bread by Kinnikinnick (frozen)at Kroger and they make some cookies, too that I buy occasionally at natural food stores.
    I hope your gluten free test is helpful to you!

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