I have been gluten-free for a very long time. When I was finally diagnosed with Hashimotos, I was so relieved to finally have a name to my problem that I jumped in feet first with alternative treatments. Diet, herbs, essential oils – the whole shebang. I had noticeable improvement those first months where my hormones regulated and I even discovered that we were pregnant after struggling with a miscarriage and other fertility issues. The only problem was that I couldn’t pin point which treatments were making the biggest difference since I started them all at once.
6 months into being gluten-free and only a couple of months into my pregnancy I had a huge accidental exposure. Call it pregnancy brain or just me being blonde, but we were travelling and I had to eat a hotel continental breakfast. I settled on two bowls of Raisin Bran thinking that Raisin Bran was gluten-free. After eating two bowls I realized Raisin Bran is, in fact, not gluten-free. I was so worried that something terrible was going to happen. But nothing happened. Nothing. No digestive issues. No return of all my horrible thyroid symptoms. Nothing.
That experience got me questioning if being gluten-free was necessary. I didn’t want to risk testing that out while pregnant, so I had a nice long chat with my endocrinologist about it and he agreed that after I had the baby and my hormones regulated, we could do a gluten experiment. The plan was to do a pre-test, then eat gluten for a month and do a post-test to see how it affected my thyroid numbers – specifically my antibodies. Sidenote: I was so thrilled he agreed to go along with my experiment that I proceeded to walk face first into a huge slab of glass (I thought it was a doorway!) where I bruised my uterus and ended up in the hospital to be monitored. Never a boring day!
In August I had my sweet little baby and in November I was finally ready to begin the great gluten experiment. Oh how I had looked forward to this day. I went to get my bloodwork done and then our whole family went out to eat. Now 99% of the time I eat good, nourishing, real food. But when you are doing a gluten experiment, it calls for lots of yummy gluten and I wanted rolls!
That night I went to bed with a belly full of gluten and I felt fine. The next day I felt fine as well, I may even go so far as to say I felt great. I was convinced that I was one of those thyroid people who are just not affected by gluten. Then I got my lab results from the pre-test (probably should have waited for that before starting the experiment), and they didn’t give me a sensitive enough antibody test. All it said was ‘greater than 1,000’. Before the pregnancy I knew my antibodies were at 1500, so this was not helpful. Plus it totally made the experiment not possible since now there is no way to tell if my antibodies go up. I decided I would just see if it affected my T3 or T4.
- About a week into the experiment I noticed I started to feel light-headed and could feel some brain fog returning. I wrote it off as just being tired.
- Two weeks into the experiment my face broke out for the first time in years and I noticed that my stomach was bloated pretty much all the time and my baby stopped sleeping through the night. I wrote it off as hormones and a growth spurt for the baby.
- Three weeks into the experiment the fatigue hit me like a wall. I started going to bed early, waking up late, and still feeling like I wasn’t rested. The baby started getting very slight pink, eczema-looking spots on her cheeks. I started to very reluctantly admit that maybe it’s the gluten.
- Four weeks into the experiment I felt like one of those space ships on a sci-fi movie that is going down and there is loud beeping in the background and the sound “Abort mission, Abort mission” screeching over the loud-speaker.
I guess I am one of those people who has to learn the lesson the hard way every time, but it is very clear to me now that gluten does affect me. It’s not an immediate or obvious reaction (I kind of wish it was), but knowing how I feel now and how I felt for the whole time I was off gluten, I can say that there is a difference. I haven’t even gotten my post blood work done, but I don’t need those results to know that I function much better as a human being without gluten in my system. Sigh.
And that’s the story of my gluten-hatin’ thyroid breaking my gluten-lovin’ heart.