For the sake of anyone searching out there, I thought I’d explain in detail how gluten affects me when I have it, even a tiny bit. I’ve recently come across articles claiming there is nothing harmful in gluten, that it is all hype.
I get it. I was on that bandwagon before my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.
However, I am a living, breathing experimenter here, and I can attest it is a real thing. In an effort to hopefully help someone else experiencing gluten withdrawal, here is my story.
New Year’s Eve was our final Christmas gathering. We headed to Dan’s brother’s house since they have a new baby, and we offered to cook dinner. On the one hand, to give the new parents a break, and on the other so we don’t impose our crazy diet stress on other people. We feel so bad whenever we have to tell anyone what to prepare for us because it sounds like we don’t eat anything.
Anyway, I had a cutting board out and chopped the potatoes. I tossed them in the oven then rejoined the family call while they cooked.
The call took place over dinner time for us (Family is in multiple time zones so it will happen to at least one family!). The new mama needed to eat, so she made a PB&J sandwich on the cutting board I left out.
Not thinking of bread crumbs being on the board, I then chopped bacon on the same board (thinking at the time the board had only seen raw potatoes) to add to the green beans, then washed the board.
We finish up the family call; eat a lovely steak, potatoes, and green beans with bacon dinner; and head home.
I feel great having eat whole, clean food. I have zero digestive issues with the meal and go to bed with a normal blood sugar reading of 137.
The next morning, January 1, I wake up to a fast blood sugar of 161. What?
By lunchtime, my blood sugar is down a bit but still quite high for me, 152. I had an active morning cleaning the house, so this number baffled me. What is going on??
My pre-dinner reading is a little better, 117, but still quite high for the active day I had. For me, normal is 90-120 before lunch and dinner. So 117 is still in that range, but I had been a cleaning machine that afternoon which made this number high in my opinion.
By bedtime, I was down to 108. Huh, I’m not sure what is going on. I like to think days like this are a fluke, but they usually aren’t. My body’s blood sugar doesn’t go up for no good reason.
The next day, January 2, my numbers are still elevated but better:
The end caps seem ok, but lunch and dinner is still troubling me. I am not usually that high during the day, especially during active housekeeping days which these two days were.
Wednesday, January 3, the physical symptoms of gluten hit:
- Tremors in my chest
- Inability to sleep due to the internal shaking
- General feeling of unwellness
- Insatiable hunger.
These are all signs of gluten withdrawal, very similar to withdrawal from a street drug (although less intense, I imagine). The body gets addicted to gluten fast and wants more. I’ve had accidental gluten ingestion before, and these same symptoms hit three days later. The only thing to do is grin and bear it. I keep eating normally, not giving in to the cravings, and eventually the symptoms subside.
Dan and I brainstorm what is going on, and we trace our steps back one meal at a time. We go back and back until we land on that sandwich made on the same cutting board I was using to prepare dinner on New Year’s Eve. That was a TINY amount of gluten! This is why we are 100% gluten-free, not 80%/20% or even 90%/10% as many diets go. It’s all or nothing. If you want significant health improvements, you’ve got to cut it all out.
The next day, January 4, I’m back to normal. Whew!
I give you this play-by-play to encourage anyone else out there trying to manage Type 1 diabetes or any autoimmune condition by diet. Mistakes will happen, and it is helpful to know what other people do to course correct.
What lessons (health or otherwise) have you learned from other people’s walk through the same situation? Have you sought out medical advice on the internet? Have you made changes to your life based on other people’s recommendations? What was the outcome?