In 2018 we were living in our two bedroom apartment in Chesapeake, Virginia and we were broke. Very broke. We were living on one-income, choosing which bills to pay and which ones weren’t going to get paid, and we were eating literally whatever we could put together from the pantry or whatever was cheapest at the store. No shame, Krafts Mac ‘n’ Cheese was our jam. $2 for like 4 boxes? Plus the off-brand at Aldi’s was even cheaper. You bet we ate that 2-3 times a week sometimes. We would douse it in Sriracha and TA-DA, Dinner! Sometimes we got crazy with frozen hamburger patties if we were really trying to live it up.
Towards October 2018, Armando woke up one night around 3am with inconsolable stomach pain and vomiting. He was dizzy, pale faced, and in incredible pain. I called an ambulance that came and checked him out and said the tests they ran were normal and wanted to take him to the ER. So off we went. Long story short, the ER visit gave him a [nasty] Potassium drink since he had thrown up all of his nutrients and they sent us home for 9am with a $200 bill and a referral for a Gastroenterology doctor. Here’s the catch, we didn’t have PCPs yet or Virginia insurance. The insurance was Pittsburgh specific. Yay.
We went to see this GI doctor who was very nice and decided to do all kinds of tests for Armando: empty stomach tests, ultrasounds, endoscopy, colonoscopy – the works. Diagnosis? Nothing definite. Possible Diverticulitis, maybe IBS, maybe a slow metabolism. He was told to eat more fiber, exercise, and control stress levels. While all of those are extremely important, something was missing. These were our possible diagnoses and suggestions after another pain and vomiting episode, and 2 more ER visits.
If you know either of us you know Armando is obsessed with Reddit and I love doing research in general. So we sat down and said “okay no seeds with foods for this possible diagnosis“…”lots of veggies for this possible diagnosis“… “plus add more protein into our diet for this one” … “oh but none of this, no that“. Our initial thought was that we could no longer eat food at all. Dramatic, I know. Then…from the deep dark pages of Reddit and my .org/.gov sites we saw it… Gluten. Added gluten is so difficult for our bodies to process and digest. Some people’s bodies are more sensitive than others and can develop an allergen to it later in life. Interesting. We read up on the symptoms of having an intolerance to gluten and they were spot on. Having researched some of the foods that we could and could not eat on a gluten free diet, we decided to try it out!
Two weeks into going gluten-free – no episodes and feeling okay. 3-4 weeks in and we were feeling pretty good with had more energy throughout the day. Personally, I noticed that I wasn’t bloated after eating meals anymore! It took us a few months to wean off gluten completely and start to look for the alternatives in stores and online. It’s expensive ya’ll and we were just tapping into months with two-incomes again.
Now, about a year into this gluten free journey we are feeling great! Armando has not had another episode of this stomach pain/vomiting since then. Praise Jesus!
I have to admit, I used to sneak gluten every once in a while and literally always regretted it shortly after. My body has grown its own intolerance to gluten and I don’t mind it one bit anymore. I have felt great too and while our grocery bill has gone up, it is a small price to pay for a happy and healthy body. If you are curious about being gluten free, I would suggest to do your research on the positives for your body, but also know the trials that come with it too such as grocery prices, the transition period for your body and knowing that you will not start seeing the effects for 3-4 weeks after you stop eating gluten products altogether. It can be a lot to take on, but your body will thank you.
Also, while I like to think I have the hang of gluten free cooking and baking, the struggle for homemade gluten-free pizza crust is real. If you have any suggestions for crust or any other yummy GF recipes, please share them in the comments!
This is a quick glimpse into why we follow a gluten-free diet and to be continued for our not so smooth transition to a dairy-free life as well!