Hi loveys! I have received a couple of questions about the health benefits I have seen from cutting dairy and gluten from my diet, so I figured I would address the questions in a blog post to more thoroughly explain!
This is a rather long post just FYI - I feel it's important to understand my background to appreciate the present conclusions! However, feel free to skip to the bottom if you would simply like to read about my present health benefits!
*Disclaimer : I am not a health professional. I am simply giving my own personal, anecdotal evidence to share my experience with cutting dairy and gluten. Please consult your physician before altering your diet*
I'll start by giving you a little about my background : I was raised in Plano, TX by a mother who was WAY ahead of her time health-wise. She cut out yeast, wheat, and soy from her diet way before "gluten free" or any other intolerances were widely accepted by the mainstream. Back then, gluten free flour was not readily available in markets, so my poor mother experimented with whatever gluten free flours she could concoct herself and often ended up with baked goods that were better used as door stops. My sister and I would laugh and laugh before obliging and choking down the extremely dense food my sweet mother prepared.
At 16, I was plagued by extreme fatigue and started feeling very disconnected - this was coupled with some weight gain and frequent migraines. We first went to my general physician who thought I was "depressed" and wanted to put me on depression meds. Our family has a history of thyroid disorders so luckily my mom decided we should exhaust all of our options before moving forward with depression medication.
We visited multiple hormone specialists and sure enough, they found that I had very low thyroid and an enlarged and nodular thyroid gland. After a few tests, they luckily ruled out thyroid cancer, but I still needed to be put on medication. My diet became more strict as well, since gluten has been found to greatly depress thyroid activity (feel free to google the link between gluten and thyroid issues for more information on this topic).
Fast forward to my college days, when all of my healthy eating I had learned at home had entirely gone out the window. I ended up in the ER on multiple occasions due to high fever and excruciating abdominal pain. My doctors kept thinking I was having appendicitis since the pain seemed to be on my right side, I had a high fever, and a high white blood cell count. Extensive testing was done on each occasion and no one could seem to find anything wrong except excessive inflammation in my organs. I was sent home every time with pain meds to cope and no real solution to prevent this from happening again.
To make matters worse, I decided my thyroid meds were too expensive (but partying, of course, seemed to fit in the budget) so I began to nap every day for multiple hours due to extreme fatigue. I was also experiencing multiple migraines a week and popping Excedrin like candy for some relief. For those who haven't had a migraine, congratulations - I don't wish them on my worst enemy. My roommates often found me on the bathroom floor, shaking and vomiting. IF I was lucky enough to catch the migraine in time before the nausea set in, then I would have to lay down in a cold, dark, and quiet room for a few hours until it passed.
This continued after college, although I did try to take better care of myself by exercising, eating healthier, and taking my thyroid meds (most of the time). However, all bets were off when I went on vacation.
It wasn't until 2015 that I decided I HAD to get serious about my health. My family went to Miami for Thanksgiving and I lived it up, eating all kinds of delicious gluten and dairy. I ended up in the ER yet again as soon as I came back to Austin due to excruciating abdominal pain and high fever. They found the same extreme inflammation throughout my body, but this time, the doctor suggested I try cutting certain foods out of my diet to find triggers.
I knew she was right (I clearly just liked living in denial for a really long time and enjoyed excessive ER bills) so I decided to take my health seriously. I cut out dairy and gluten entirely. Eating well in Austin was easy enough, but how would I stick to my diet while traveling for the next month? I had just quit my job to take time off and travel and I was planning on going to Mexico for a bachelorette party and to look at wedding venues in Tulum, followed immediately by a trip to the US Virgin Islands to see my best friends get married, and then immediately onward to the British Virgin Islands for a sailing trip with my family (I know, poor me). This is exactly how Wander Life Coconut Creamer came about (read more about the creation of Wander Life Coconut Creamer here). Knowing that I wouldn't have access to Whole Foods on my trips, I stocked up on all things dairy and gluten free so I wouldn't ruin the trips by getting sick.
The Conclusion :
After over a year and a half of being gluten and dairy free (95% of the time, no one is perfect) I am thrilled to tell you that I haven't had to visit the ER once. No more excruciating abdominal pain, no more upset stomach, no more extreme fatigue, and very few debilitating migraines. My thyroid no longer appears to be as "nodular" as it once was. My energy levels have increased tremendously and I don't experience as much brain fog as I used to. Experiencing even one of these benefits would have been enough for me to change my diet.
Although I wish I could go back and slap my younger self for not taking my health seriously, I am so thankful to still be so young and to have found a solution to my health problems. I urge anyone who thinks they may be experiencing food intolerances to please take it seriously - the benefits are real. Feel free to comment below and ask questions - my goal is to help other people with dietary restrictions eat better to live better.
Kat - Wander Life