Today I thought I would talk to you about something a little bit different, I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to post this blog, but I think its so important to talk about these sort of things. Instagram and most social media platforms always show the ‘perfect’ life, and I must admit, I am one to always post the good things, isn’t everyone? But I guess there’s always much more going on in a person’s life than just the best bits they post on social media.
So as the blog title suggests, today I’m going to talk about my gluten & dairy free eating journey and how/why I’ve ended up eating this way, including all the symptoms I had and how they affected my life. It’s been a challenge but I feel like things are definitely on the up, and I hope by sharing this I can help at least 1 person out. Here goes..
Throughout my first few years of secondary school I never really had any problems in terms of my health, in fact I felt healthy 99% of the time. My attendance was almost perfect, my grades were good & I was just a normal teenager. This changed when I was around 15 or 16, I remember starting to feel unwell at school, and it never really went away. I constantly had a stomach ache, felt really sick and exhausted which really started to impact on every part of my life. I started to feel anxious about going to school in case I was sick and constantly worried about being sick, or people seeing me be sick. This led to me not wanting to go to school, my attendance dropped and I remember being called to a meeting because it dropped below 85% threshold. I went to the doctors so many times and always got sent away with numerous tablets, none of which helped. The constant sick feeling was getting worse, and the anxiety about being sick got worse.
I remember feeling so low, I couldn’t do anything without worrying about being sick, I couldn’t go out for meals, public transport was a big no no, and just trying to get through a lesson at school was hell. After researching on the internet and going back to the doctors, It was discussed that I had something called emetophobia, which is basically a huge irrational fear of feeling sick, being sick, or seeing anyone else be sick.
The fear of being sick sounds silly, you’re probably thinking, surely no one likes being sick? But it’s a lot more than that, if anyone else has suffered from the same thing, you will know just how much it impacts your life. I know now that the reason I started constantly feeling sick in the first place was because of my diet (I was still eating gluten & dairy at this point), and if I had been diagnosed sooner, maybe this fear wouldn’t have got so out of control. I wouldn’t cook meat because I was worried about getting food poisoning, I couldn’t go into the cinema because I was worried I’d be sick in front of people, I wouldn’t eat out because I would get myself in such a state and not be able to eat anything. If i ever went anywhere, I would scout out the nearest toilet in case I was going to be sick. I was pushing away my friends because I didn’t want to tell them what was going on, so I would make up excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t go out for a meal, or why I couldn’t go to the cinema. Looking back on it I wish I had just been totally honest.
After months of this constant cycle, and going back and forth from the doctors me and my mum suddenly realised what might be behind all of this. My Mum is also a diagnosed Coeliac so I don’t know why we didn’t think of getting me tested for Coeliac Disease sooner. This was confirmed by the doctors and I straight away stopped eating gluten which helped to reduce the symptoms a lot. I finished my GCSEs and A Levels but the emetophobia and anxiety never really went. I wasn’t feeling as sick any more and I was dealing with social situations better, but something still wasn’t right and I ended up having CBT as well as medication to try and help the anxiety.
Thinking back, this feeling never really left, I went to University but still struggled, I started working full time and still struggled, and it wasn’t until I also cut out dairy couple of years ago, that I started to feel a lot better. This leads on to my skin issues. Throughout my teens I never had any issues with my skin, whilst lots of my friends went through their teenage acne phases I was really smug because I only ever got the odd spot every few months. This all changed when I turned 21, when my skin all of a sudden erupted. Over the space of a few months my skin got worse and worse, and was covered in painful, red cystic spots all over my cheeks and chin. If you have ever suffered with your skin, you will know how depressing it is looking in the mirror in the morning to find that you have developed countless new spots over night. I didn’t want to leave the house, I felt so ugly. I do have photos but I’ve decided not to post them.
Anyway, after a lot of tears and more trips to the doctors, to discuss my skin as well as my ever growing stomach problems including bloating, constant upset stomachs as well as feeling really sick again the doctor suggested cutting out dairy too. This was pretty overwhelming to start with, no gluten and no dairy, what was left to eat?! But with cutting out milk, my skin started to clear up, my stomach felt 100 times better, and I felt a lot happier in myself. I only wish I had figured out what was causing my problems sooner. It’s crazy how for me and so many other people, consuming certain foods (gluten and dairy in my case) can cause you to feel SO poorly and your body to react the way it does. I’m just so glad I’ve got to the root of the problem, because not eating gluten and dairy really isn’t much of a price to pay for feeling so much better.
So what now, I’m 8 years into eating gluten free and 2-3 years into eating dairy free and Its honestly the best thing I have ever done. Obviously I still struggle with my stomach at times but I think that occasional bloating and a sore stomach is just something I’m going to have to deal with. I still get some spots, but doesn’t everyone? I still feel anxious at times, but I’m sure there are SO many people who feel the same. I now travel on public transport, I work full time in a crowded office where I was recently promoted, I go out for meals without any issues. I really never thought this would happen. Changing my diet really has changed my life for the better. It’s helped me physically and mentally and looking back now it all seems so simple, maybe if I’d cut out gluten and dairy when I first started feeling sick at school none of this would have happened? However I have learnt an awful lot and I guess It’s made me the person I am today.
Creating my gluten and dairy free Instagram page/blog to help out people that may be going through a similar situation is such a passion of mine. I absolutely love showing that eating a gluten and dairy free diet doesn’t have to be boring, as well as getting across the message that a gluten free or dairy free diet isn’t a ‘Fad’, for a lot of people its due to serious medical conditions. I recently had a comment on one of my Instagram photos asking me ‘What’s the point in eating a gluten and dairy free diet’, and this is something I really want to get across to people. Myself and many other people are not eating this way to be healthy, to loose weight, or because a celebrity has claimed to be gluten free. It’s a medical condition which should be taken really seriously.
Hopefully this has been a helpful post, to give you more of an insight of what led to me changing my diet and my background. If you have found this useful or have any other questions, please drop me a message. I’m hoping to post more like this in the future.