The Gluten-free Experiment

I’ve now been gluten-free (yes, I’ve been strict!) for over a month.  It hasn’t been difficult at all and certainly nowhere near as challenging as going low histamine.   I’ve substituted Doves gluten-free flour mix for normal flour in recipes and it’s worked really well.  You can buy gluten-free pasta and cereal in all supermarkets now, and I’ve been baking my own yeast-free gluten-free bread.  Many of the commercial products containing gluten, eg. sauces, biscuits, cakes, I’ve been avoiding in any event as they have ingredients not allowed on the low histamine diet.

Despite my best efforts I’m sad to report I don’t feel any different whatsoever (with the exception of one symptom – see below).  This may come as a shock to all those who tell me gluten is ruining my life, but it comes as no shock to me being as though I’ve tried a gluten-free diet twice before and it didn’t help then either.

I’m sleeping appallingly, consequently I’m so exhausted I can barely function.  I have hives, I am itching, I am sneezing my head off.  I have stomach pain, and back pain, and really bad brain fog.  My bowels are unchanged.  I have nausea, I have throat weakness and I have had 3 migraines this month (which is more than normal).  Honestly guys, I feel just the same.

The exception being that my heartburn is much reduced!  However, before we all get too exited I started on Zirtek (H1 anti-histamine) at the same time as I started the gluten-free diet.  I’m also doing hiatal hernia massage daily.  So out of the three, I’ve no idea which it is that’s helping (yes, I know I should only do one thing at a time, but I needed a good trial of the Zirtek before I go back to see the Consultant next month).

My gluten-free experiment is up at the end of November, so I will switch back to eating gluten.  If the reflux gets worse, I know it’s the gluten.  If it doesn’t, then gluten isn’t a problem.  And before you all say that 6 weeks isn’t long enough to see a change, I’ve done gluten-free before: 6 months the first time and 3 months the second time.  I didn’t see any change then either.  When I started the low histamine diet, however, I noticed a change within the first week.

My good friend K has had M.E. for over 12 years now.  She found out by accident she was Coeliac following a routine blood test about 8 years ago (followed by the usual biopsies), so consequently she has to follow a very strict gluten-free diet.  I asked her if she had noticed any improvement in the symptoms of her M.E. and she said no.  None whatsoever.  I know gluten is an issue for some people, but it’s not at the root of every disease known to man and I wish the gluten zealots would accept this.

For me, the jury is still out as to whether avoiding gluten is helping my reflux, but as for anything else it’s a dud I’m afraid.  In fact, I’ve felt absolutely rubbish during November and have had the least energy I’ve had all year 😦  Trust me when I say I was hoping with all my heart that avoiding gluten would make me feel like a new woman, and I’m more bummed than anyone that it hasn’t turned out that way.  Onwards and upwards.

What I did discover in my gluten-free quest was a really good pizza base flour mix.  It’s made by Isabels and is also yeast-free.  You buy it as a packet flour mix ( sorry, it does contain milk powder for those who avoid dairy) and you mix it with egg, oil and water, knead it, roll it thinly, pre-bake it for 10 mins, add your pizza topping, and then bake for another 10 minutes.  It makes a thin crust pizza and you get about four 9″ pizzas out of one box (containing 2 packet mixes).  I used one box, ate one pizza fresh, rolled out the other 3 and froze them.  You can then just bake straight from the freezer.  The only mistake I made was rolling out the bases too thinly and next time I’ll do them slightly thicker.  For the topping I used my red pepper sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese and veg.  I’ll put the details up on the recipe page when I have time – it’s available to buy from select ASDA and Booths stores or online at Amazon.

Photo of gluten-free yeast-free pizza

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8 thoughts on “The Gluten-free Experiment

  1. Melissa

    I am sorry that going gluten free did not help you. It helped me a great deal. I guess that it shows that we are all different and that our immune systems all react differently.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Thanks Melissa. Couldn’t agree more that we are all just so different. I haven’t given up all hope though that my reflux is better because of being gluten-free – I hope so, I’d rather change my diet than take meds that’s for sure. I’ll just have to see how the reflux is when I re-introduce gluten next month x

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  2. Sherry

    Bravo. Well written. Well tried experiment. My experience with gluten parallels your own in terms of not being a difference maker for me either. I had one doc (who proclaimed to be a Mast Cell specialist) tell me she would not proceed further into Mast Cell investigation until I had completed three months of a strict Gluten free diet. I waited 8 months to see her… to hear this was disheartening to say the least :(… I told her I had done this diligently…twice…for 6 months at a time. She said it takes 2 years of strict gluten free diet to see a change!! What??!! Anyway, only way she would go further in the investigation of Mast Cell was if I did what she was ordering so… I did (even though 3 months certainly contradicts that 2 year necessity). Was still an expensive venture but easier to do now than back when I had done so previously (now more mainstream here in Canada – easier to get pre-made gluten free products). I enjoy baking and cooking by am often too sick to do so – and you know the gluten free way means both of these things if one wants to afford it for long. I experienced no improvement. Went back to see doc. She stared at my file for five long minutes and then said… “So, what can I do for you?” “WTF?…seriously?”. She had forgotten what she had asked me to do… and when I reminded her she said; “YOU DON’T HAVE MAST CELL PROBLEMS”. She closed my file with a slap of the hand and shut down the appointment by saying that she could do nothing more for me and that if I had had ANY issues with my Mast Cells then I would be CONSTANTLY covered in hives and itching uncontrollably. I opened my mouth to speak (about the creditable well-authored articles that say otherwise) and she said “There is nothing I can do for you.” while rising and exiting from the small room. Why…oh why, are these doctors out there for us to be led astray, bullied and dismissed by is beyond my understanding. In the end, this particular doctor was NOT a specialist on Mast Cell disorders and the like. I am onto doctor number two…after wasting months and months on the first one…and am off to do the serum and urine testing tomorrow. And, as you know, one must do these tests when symptoms are heightened (subjective already)… and in my case, only one hospital in Toronto (a three hour drive one way) does the tests (still to be fully confirmed) and must have at least one days warning to do so…so, be at my worst AND warn them… plus stay overnight at a hotel in order to complete the 24 hour urine test without having to drive back the next day…and all that topped off with a bill of a few hundred dollars for hotel and the tests themselves. Yikes! Need I say more? Gluten free – yes, I had forgotten that was the topic – sorry ’bout the rant. I really enjoy your blog…too bad your motivation stemmed from such a life-sucking challenge as this one – yet you are so vibrant, relevant and inspirational! Thinking of you. Wishing you love today 🙂
    Warmly,
    Sherry

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Sherry

      Wishing you loads of luck for your tests! Be interested to hear if they show anything, but don’t get your hopes up – most come back ‘normal’. That doesn’t mean you still can’t be diagnosed with MCAD though, as good clinicians go off history, symptoms and response to drugs.

      I agree getting tested is an expensive nightmare – it shouldn’t have to be that hard :-/

      Jak x

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Bloody hell Gem don’t you start lol! I did dairy free for 2 months last year and it made no difference to a single symptom. Yeast isn’t allowed on the low histamine diet, but unfermented cheese like mascarpone is – so those kinds of cheese can’t contain histamine (I think it’s the fermentation process which produces natural yeast)? I eat the allowed cheeses maybe once-twice per week, and mild cheddar about once per month if that x

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  3. Gemma

    lol….soooorrryyyyy!!!
    God I wish I could eat cheese I really miss it. I don’t think I’ve tried mascarpone though, maybe I’ll give that a go. Some days I just have blow outs where I eat whatever the hell I want and write the next couple of days off because I’m so bored by the diet – not very disciplined I know! x

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      God I miss cheese too! I used to eat parmesan nearly every day. And gorgeous organic farmhouse cheddar *mmmmmmm*. I’m with you on the cheating. I just can’t get through my period week without at least one piece of white chocolate – simply not do-able. And to be honest I don’t notice any detrimental effects so I think “sod it, why not?” 😉

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