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Friday
Nov252011

Making the Switch: Sherri's Story

 

 

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Uncovering a Food Allergy to Wheat
Sherri | 46 | Colonial Heights, Virginia, USA

Hi, my name is Sherri and I am allergic to wheat.

I smile when I type this because it sounds like I’m introducing myself at a 12-step recovery program meeting. But I was an addict, not to drugs or alcohol, to wheat.

I have been on a journey for over 20 years to discover what was “wrong” with me. Years before it all began with a debilitating depression in the 8th grade that kept me from attending school and almost got my Mom arrested. After I graduated, I began noticing more and more stiff, black facial hairs and started piling on more and more pounds.

In my 20’s, I sobbed as I learned I had fertility problem called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. (I was blessed to conceive twins with the help of medication!). I started to suffer from chronic sinus infections and hives after I gave birth. I was exhausted all of the time! I was later diagnosed hypoglycemic.

My diet was atrocious! I loved fast food—Doritos, soda, Little Debbie snack cakes. When I cooked it was pasta of course—and I always wanted more. More of the bad stuff, never more veggies or plain meats!

In the late 1990’s, I remember the nurse calling me with blood test results stressing that I needed to get an Epi-pen because my IG-e levels were extremely high. They didn’t know what I was so allergic to so they sent me to an allergist.

The allergist performed the standard scratch test on my back. I reacted to everything he checked me for. He then asked if he could photograph my skin. He took a blunt instrument that looked like a tongue depressor and lightly rubbed it down my inner arm. The skin kept its “mark” for too long, he said, and wrote dermatographism or "skin writing” on my chart. That doctor signed me up for allergy shots but didn’t do a food allergy test.

Fast forward to 2005. I had gained more weight. My sister was sure that I had sleep apnea because I snored so badly. I decided to low-carb diet AGAIN. I’d had success with it before but my cravings always got the best of me and I’d go back to eating all those high carb foods.

This time something clicked inside me. After a few weeks of eating right and losing weight, I noticed something else. My hives were gone! Thankfully for the internet, I had learned about the elimination diet and how to check to see if you are allergic to a certain food by eliminating it for a month or two and then reintroducing it. I remember the day I reintroduced wheat. I had taken a chicken sandwich to work. I was alone for my lunch break and after a few bites I felt this pressure build in my chest. I started belching and was swallowing a lot. I ran to the bathroom and lost my lunch! My esophagus now had a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis that I believe was triggered by an allergy to wheat. The hives returned shortly after.

I was scared. I believed I finally had my answer, but how overwhelming it was to think about all of the foods that contained wheat! I didn’t even know, then, that soy sauce had it and so many other foods. Who knew.

I started that day on a path that has changed my life! There weren’t that many gluten-free prepared foods in my local grocery stores. It took me a long time to find acceptable replacements for pasta, bread and desserts.

Today, I am healthy! I’ve lost over 50 pounds but still have a ways to go. I’m grateful that I’ve found almond flour and coconut flour for easy, high-protein breakfasts and desserts. I’m amazed at all of the gluten-free blogs and prepared foods that have cropped up.

Last year, to confirm my allergy to wheat, I reintroduced it back into my diet. Sadly, the hives returned and I will not try it again. I can also report to you that the items I tried smelled bad to me! I can barely stand to walk down the bread aisle in the grocery store. I guess it’s my body's way of reminding me that bread just isn't good for me!

Some of Sherri's favorites!

My life has changed dramatically since 2005. We eat pretty simply now and I believe more healthy. I occasionally get glutened and experience flu like symptoms but it's so rare that it took my husband and me a day or two to figure it out! I haven't had a depressive episode or a sinus infection since being wheat-free, I've remarried (my first husband couldn't deal with my depression) AND I am a grandmother!!! So much to celebrate!

Sherri and family | Thanksgiving 2011

As a footnote: Since I self-diagnosed my allergy, my doctor re-checked my IG-e levels a couple of years ago after being gluten-free for some time. The levels were in normal range once again! My other health problems, I believe, were brought on by my allergy. Depression, chronic sinus infections and hives are known symptoms. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is often treated nutritionally by eliminating wheat and milk. These conditions have never been confirmed by a doctor as being caused by wheat. My own personal disclaimer.

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Making the Switch, spotlights everyday people journeying on to better health and well-being by choosing pure food over processed. For some, it has been gradual. For others it was a complete about-face. 

Putting the modified diet focus of this blog aside, Making the Switch is open to all. The point being to bring personal stories to light that encourage young and old to get back into the kitchen to cook real food. As Jamie Oliver puts it, “make only a few small changes and magical things will happen.” Whether it’s weight loss, improvements in a child's behavior or the regaining of health, magical things will happen.

WHAT'S YOUR STORY? Consider being featured on Making the SwitchClick here and drop me a line telling me a little about yourself. Someone is waiting to be inspired by YOU!

Reader Comments (40)

Sherri.. thank you for sharing your story! Many aspects I could write myself! I am overweight, I have PCOS, I also have the "addiction" to wheat. I am fairly new to gluten free, and it makes such an impression to read about other journeys.

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

I enjoy reading all the stories! Its been an encouragement to my husband and I!

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Would love to win Elana's book and discover a new method of baking.

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda M

Wow! Congratulations to you, Sherri, for finding a new, more healthy life!

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie D.

Congrats Sherri for finding your way to being healthier. I just last week found out that my six year old daughter is allergic to wheat, egg whites and milk so I'm trying to find my way, making foods that are healthier for her. Glad to have found this blog.

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa~~

Thank you Lexie for sharing my story! It's been therapeutic to write it. I'm grateful for YOU and all the GF bloggers who share delicious recipes with us!

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSherriS.

I loved this story! It always makes me smile to read that someone else took the giant leap and is now feeling because of eliminating wheat. We are not meant to live miserably, health-wise. Way to go Sherri! Thanks for sharing. Would love to win Elana's book! :)

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

I meant to say "and is now feeling better". Oops!

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Not entering the giveaway, but wanted to give big kudos to Sherri for all her accomplishments to date. It's clear she'll have more to celebrate in the future--woohoo on all! I was fortunate to have met Sherri virtually a while ago and she's a dear, but I love that you've shared her story here, Lexie. As I always say, personal stories are huge ... both for the person sharing and the folks reading. Love your Making the Switch series, Lexie!

xo,
Shirley

p.s. I can't see the 2nd and 3rd photos, but maybe it's just me since nobody else mentioned that problem.

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShirley @ gfe

Sherri is my daughter-in-law..
a most cheeriful and pleasent person.

we have been very careful to only feed her
foods she can handle due to her wheat allergy condition..

perhaps the medical doctors will be more vigilent
about testing for this when patients come to them??

she had to spend way too much time suffering from this malady..

the more that are aware of this possible condition can
have a better life..

here is a shout out to this Blog..

cliff

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercliff

I really appreciate these sites that give hope to me and others. I am very overwhelmed by being gluten free.
thanks
Sue

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSueS

Sherri, thank you for sharing your story! I also suffer for wheat (and peanut) allergy (so no almond flour for me), diagnosed last Summer after many years of suffering and lots of unnecessary tests & medication. It's so good to hear about people that have been there and are being successful through this sometimes overwhelming journey. Kuddos to you & your family for working at it and keep you healthy, I'm also blessed to have a supporting family who doesn't flinch at the healthier/gluten free/nut free meals I put in front of them. Virtual hugs to you!!

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary DK

I am so thankful to hear of stories like yours, because they remind me of my own. I was diagnosed with my gluten allergy only after having been poked and prodded for numerous ailments like Lyme Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and Fybromyalgia, to name a few. Since going gluten-free, I feel much better. It took a few weeks, but now my whole family realizes that gluten-free doesn't mean "tastes weird", either. :)

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle P

Hey Sherri, glad you were able to share your story with us! You didnt mention your twins...I was hoping to see pics! My family still thinks I am the weird one...since out T-day dinner was GF though and delicious maybe they will come around? Still need to learn pie crust though....

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTerri O

Lexie I hope you don't mind if I put a link on here to my recent family photo taken on Thanksgiving. I also want to thank everyone for all of these wonderful replies.

https://skydrive.live.com/redir.aspx?cid=5fe6a453acc57919&page=play&resid=5FE6A453ACC57919!458

You may have to copy and paste in into your browser.

Thanks!
Sherri

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSherriS.

What an inspirational story! I too discovered my intolerance by accident but I will never intentionally go back to wheat. I love cooking with almond flour and coconut flour.

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTracy League

Thanks for this post! I too am "self-diagnosed", but trust me, the Drs. had 40+years to figure it out and help me. The internet is my life-line as I don't live in an area that has a support group or know anyone personally who is gluten intolerant. Bless you for sharing!

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdori

Bravo Sherri! Way to take charge of your life. I'm glad you've been able to find foods that keep your body happy. Almond flour is a favorite of mine as well :)

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephaniete

I am so very new to gluten free, I discovered I am intolerant on my own. Still waiting after a year to see the specialist!. I so appreciate your story and all the recipes to try. I was really down about not eating all the "good" stuff but I am learning I won't miss out if I plan ahead.

November 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I have just eliminated gluten from my diet. When I "cheat" I can really tell the difference. I have not been diagnosed by a doctor, but my symptoms are now gone. It is difficult to eliminate wheat as it is in absolutely everything. I imagine when I get used to it, things will be more automatic.

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2005, and **think** I live a strict gluten free life. Lately, I have been paying attention to what my body is trying to tell me with small signs and changes. I am experiencing more gastrointestinal upset, am developing a small flat rash on my skin, more headaches and lower mood. I have begun the elimination of dairy to see if that helps, and getting back on track to be more vigilant in my eating habits. maybe my train has a small derailment!
I love the uplifting post, and great outcome to Sherri's story - her life has truly been testament to what happens when you - and not food - is in control. Thanks for the reminder!

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Sherri - congrats on finding the source of your health concerns. It's tough to make a switch that so dramatically changes your life until you realize how dramatically it has changed for the better. Way to go!!

Jodi

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story Sherrie. I love gluten, but when I've read this post of yours, I guess I should slowly reduce or rather eliminate it from my diet.

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurt Whitner

Thanks Sher and your symptoms sound allot like mine and I had to self diagnose mine too. I can't even have shampoo that has wheat in it or I get sore on my head that hurts so much.

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy French

Hi There....Thanks for sharing your story. My husband just found out at the beginning of Sept. that he is allergic to wheat, milk, chocolate, corn, barley, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds...it's definitely an adjustment for him. My 6 year old son also has food allergies. He is anaphylactic to Milk, Eggs, and Peanuts. From our experience....food allergies are surely no fun.~
~Lisa @ O.C.

November 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa @ Organized Chaos

We are gluten, dairy, and nut free. I do enjoy the challenge of finding recipes that work. :)

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Craig

These stories are so inspiring! Love reading them =) I also love Elanas recipes!

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArlyn

These stories always remind me of the long journey we all are on, doing the best we can each day!

I would love this book, especially in time for my soon to be 6 year old's birthday cupcakes!

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah P

I love this series! Thank you for sharing your story! :)

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHannah

I have been diagnosed with Celiac disease for just over 3 years ... and it is amazing how many ingredients have gluten in them ... thank you for sharing your story and I look forward to browsing thru this blog more thoroughly!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGail

I shared this post with my boyfriend and it made him decide to try going gf finally! Thanks for your story! :)

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrenna

Brenna ... that is great! Does he have some mystery symptoms he's trying to figure out? Thanks for taking the minute to share : ) xoLexie

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

I would love to win the cookbook. Trying to live cleaner and healthier.

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYvonne

Thank you for sharing. We would love to win Elana's book!

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJaime Thomas

I could use a gluten free cookbook. Thank you. I hope I win.

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenise

love to hear other people's success stories! My husband has ulcerative colitis and we are embarking on the SCD together as a family this week. Would love to win Elana's book!

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

Love a happy ending, well done to you Sherri! I had to self diagnose and cutting out gluten and dairy has made such an amazing difference in my life, I wish I'd discovered it sooner, but better late than never! Good luck to you on your journey.

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle W.

Lexie - I just found your site. It was recommended by a friend. Awesome job! I'm looking forward to spending some time poking around here! :) I have an adorable granddaughter with a severe gluten allergy, she inspired me to go gluten free and lo, it has immensely helped to clear up the eczema I have battled all my life!

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Jan, I LOVE stories like yours! So glad you found Lexie's Kitchen!! : )
xoLexie

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLexie

Sherri, I also have PCOS (which I have known for 14 years). I was just diagnosed by a naturopathic doctor as being gluten intolerant, and we are checking me now for lactose and eggs allergies or intolerances as well. She told me that once I went gluten free I would probably see changes in my sinuses also. I have had a sinus issues non stop for almost 2 years! I am glad to read stories like your and know that it really does make a difference and that it truly gets easier. Thanks for sharing your story. :)

December 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

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