Yesterday I was asked by a woman via Twitter if my fibromyalgia (and migraines) could be caused by gluten. I just had to write this post to set the record straight since I get asked this question all the time.
Here is a photo of me in my tiny kitchen on Vancouver Island about five years ago. I had just baked my mother-in-law Lorraine’s apple pie from scratch to treat my husband with a nostalgic dessert after dinner. You can see a pumpkin behind me that my next door neighbours had grown in their garden and given to me as a present. I later used it to make my first homemade pumpkin pie. What you do not see in this photo is the journey it took to get me in that kitchen, baking those pies.
Ten years ago, my husband and I got married. Six months before our wedding I got my fibromyalgia diagnosis and knew that Ottawa was killing me slowly and making my health hell. One week after our wedding we threw whatever would fit into a tiny moving van and moved across the country to Vancouver, thousands and thousands of miles. I spent the next five years on a health odyssey. I was determined to do whatever it took to get healthy, try every trick, every diet, every ritual…
One of the first things I tried was the candida diet and even used a yeast busting kit. My doctor knew that sometimes a problem of candida (as well as gluten) can give a person the same symptoms as someone with fibromyalgia. I did not just give up gluten, I ate only certain kinds of meat and veggies and gave up everything else. I had to take this drink mixture of psyllium seeds, clay and oil in the morning, as well as radically change the food I was eating. Each and every one of those 44 days was a nightmare.
I felt horrible! And it was not just from detoxing. I got so weak I could barely move. I ended up living on homemade soup and developed food intolerances to the foods I was allowed to eat. In the end, I just starved, eating only enough to barely stay alive. I was so withered by the time I went to the doctor over a month later, she begged me to go home and get off that stupid diet. I went home and made a tea and had a cookie. I felt so much better!
I did not stop there. After living on meat for all that time, I ended up being a vegetarian for over three years but that left me weak too. I even gave up on all dairy, except eggs. I tried baking with special gluten-free flours… I did it all people and nothing helped.
I was worried about eating things like cookies so one day I asked my doctor about it. She said, “It’s what’s in packaged foods that kill people. I wouldn’t worry about eating a homemade cookie now and then.” I have lived by those words ever since. Now, I live a life of moderation. I listen to my body. Since going back on meat and baking my own treats that I eat very moderately, I am so much stronger physically than when I was on those diets. I am still frail and fragile (damn it) but in comparison to before? Much better off.
It is wonderful that some people can get off gluten or go on the candida diet and feel “born again” but what I can not tolerate is some of them become dedication to judging those who can eat foods they can’t and trying to convince them that their way is the only way. For example, when I responded to the woman via Twitter that it was not a gluten issue she wrote, “it may not be gluten. It may be sugar. It’s hard for a ‘foodie’ to see these things clearly…” Nice eh?
Few people have gone on the food and healthy journey I have been on, so back the hell off. I tried everything! Fibromyalgia is just a part of my destiny. I hate it, tried to fight it and solve it for eight years. Now, I save my energy by learning how to accept it.
Baking is one of the few things in my life that bring me any joy at all. I suffer in physically, emotional and spiritual pain 24/7 here in Nova Scotia. Don’t you dare judge me for baking cookies.