Psoriasis, Gluten, and My Food Journey
Ok, so there’s a lot of people talking about gluten-free living, diets, and recipes out there. Many people are discovering they have an intolerance, or even have Celiac disease, which is nothing to mess with. There are lots of reasons people avoid gluten… Not because “it’s a fad”…. more on that later.
Me? I have an auto-immune skin disease. It’s called psoriasis. You can learn more about it here.
This is a very scary post for me to write.
I’m not sure how you’re all going to react. But, my experience with blogging in the past has been one of surprise. The times I hesitate the most to hit the “publish” button have been some of the most amazing.
This may seem like a strange topic to cover on a food blog. Or not. I really believe there is a connection between food and health. Overly processed foods are slowly killing us. Don’t believe me? Put down the snack cake, and Google it. I’ll wait.
Lemme say this first: I’m just a gal, sharing my experience, and what I’ve learned.
You need to know (unless you didn’t already), I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or otherwise medically trained professional. I can only go on my own experience, which I’d like to share with you here. I think it’s time.
It started five months ago.
I did a LOT of reading. So much that it made my head spin, and so tired, I was nauseous at the screen. Burning up my library card. Yeah, a LOT of reading. And I learned a lot from friends and others who have walked this path before me. You get the picture, right?
I found some things I didn’t know. So, I decided to try something I hadn’t before.
I wouldn’t say I found conclusive evidence of a link from psoriasis and gluten, but there were some eye-opening links. The words of a woman I met a year ago were ringing in my ears. She was also a psoriatic, who had discovered the only way to bring it under control was by eliminating gluten from her diet. I was intrigued at the time, and reminding of what she said by a friend around this time.
Why would I go to such extremes?
I didn’t go about eliminating gluten from my diet lightly. This is no small task, cheap (geez) or convenient. For some perspective on why I’d do this voluntarily, consider what psoriasis is (see link above), and what I was dealing with for nearly four decades:
Psoriasis and the Daily Good Times:
1. I have a rash that never went away.
2. People look at it, and think it’s contagious (it’s not). It makes them nervous, and they tend to stare.
3. Wearing black or any dark color is out of the picture, as my scalp flakes if I turned my head. Seriously.
4. Wearing sleeveless tops or dresses was embarrassing. (see #2)
5. Wearing my hair up was sketchy, as the lesions were visible. (see #2)
6. The dryness of my skin overall was unbearable, and there’s not a lotion on earth that helped.
7. My scalp was itching all the time, severely. All.the.time. ALL. *sigh*
8. I had visible lesions on my forehead (see #2).
9. Wearing a swim suit was no fun, as lesions are everywhere. (see #2)
10. Winter (and rainy season, so about 300 days a year where I live) meant worsening of the rash, itching, and flaking. Good times.
So, what were my options, and things available to me up to this point?
Creams of all kinds
Other drugs with some unfavorable side effects
Indoor tanning (low pressure beds… Skin cancer anyone?)
Sun = I live in the Pacific Northwest. Not so much available.
Lifelong companionship with the challenges listed above.
So, I thought, “what do I have to lose by changing my diet”? Not a thing. If it didn’t work, I could go back to what I was doing before. I knew how to do that, right?
Let’s do this thing!
Three months ago, I decided to go completely gluten-free, with my entire (awesomely supportive) family. We took the deep dive, and I committed to 6 months. Sauces were changed, flours packed or given away. Gluten-free apps downloaded. Cookbooks researched. Wheeeeeee!!!!
Here’s what happened (because I documented the whole thing):
Itching substantially subsided.
Felt less bloated overall, especially after meals.
I didn’t have a single migraine (I usually had these 1-2x per month).
Lesions were disappearing.
Feeling less fatigue when I woke up (I always thought I was just “not a morning person”).
Rash was “flattening out” and less red.
My *ahem* movements vastly improved (enough said).
Didn’t feel so ravenously hungry overall.
It was around this time I discovered that I had lost THREE INCHES over my entire body. I knew this, because I took all my measurements (and before pictures, one above) before I started all this.
Also? NO menstral cramps or migraine headaches the entire time. HUGE win.
Now at 5 months… Who knows what’s next?
Thru this journey…
I’ve had food sensitivity tests done. All interesting stuff, and there are numbers I need to work on, so knowledge is power. I’ve started some supplements recommended by my doctor. I also had vitamin B shots (um, OW), which really helped me turn the corner. He’s also suggested that wheat should be eliminated from my diet for life. It’s all helping, and I’m grateful (but not in a hurry to repeat those twice weekly vitamin B shots!)
Why I’m sharing this with you…
You might have noticed I’ve posted some gluten-free recipes. I have even mentioned our dietary changes along the way. I’m not sure why I was hesitant to write about all this, or share it, except that I am still working it out in my head. But hey, who knows, maybe my experience can help someone. That is my sincere hope in sharing something so deeply personal.
Some of the things in my head…
I was nervous to share this (I think I said that, but it bears repeating). I know how I used to think when people I knew “went all gluten-free”. Here’s what I thought (and I’m ashamed to even admit it, but in the spirit of honesty…):
“Gluten-free in a bakery? Really? Go next door!”
“It’s such a fad, good grief.”
“Yeah, gluten is your problem, sure. *eye roll*”
“Seriously, what’s WITH her? Just eat the damned bread and stop being so picky!”
Here’s what I thought when I “went gluten-free”:
People will think I’m high maintenance.
Is this really an issue for me?
Is this all in my head?
Is this really all necessary?
Is this just a fad diet I’m jumping on?
People are saying the same things in their head that I am (see above).
Know what I mean?
Here’s what I know today: I feel better. My skin is vastly improved.This is my experience, and I can’t tell you how to feel, or what to do. I own my experience, and my perspective.
So where to from here? I’m going to keep on keeping on. This blog is a food blog, and about what happens around the table. That hasn’t changed, and isn’t likely to. It’s also about my perspective, and those who share the table. That would be you.
I want to help others, encourage, teach, and offer what I can from my experience. I hope this helps you, or someone you know. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.
Thank you for reading my story.