Friday, 22 February 2013

Diet and health

I've wondered quite a lot whether to write this post, but I've decided it is time to share in case this helps anyone else.

You might have noticed that I've been quiet (again) for a few weeks. Well life is crazy, I'm exhausted, super busy at work and running around trying to get *everything* and more done. More than anything though, I'm bone weary tired, and so is Mr PTC. This just gets us down. OK, so now I sound like I'm grumbling, but I promise, this will become clearer in a few moments.

So back to the title - diet and health. My family, and Mr PTC's have a history of dietary issues. My mother is a coeliac, my sister is lactose and cow's milk protein intolerant. On Mr PTC's side, his father is a coeliac, his mother can't have dairy (there is no conclusive evidence as to which type of milk problem it is, or if it is both as full testing has never been carried out), and his brother is in the process of possibly being diagnosed as a coeliac too. Mr PTC himself can't have cow's milk protein (and therefore any product made with cow's milk) - other milk types (goat, sheep, buffalo etc.) are fine. So basically, complicated families!

Now Mr PTC had his gall bladder removed in 2010 after a couple of really painful (are they ever not?) gallstone attacks. Ever since then he has had a 'gloopy' tummy. Now his tummy has always been very communicative (as I like to put it), but this was somehow different. However, we didn't really notice as it has been a gradual decline, with just a gradual increase in the propensity of 'uncomfortableness' since the operation. Nothing conclusive, and he has a loud tummy anyway. There is also always the risk the 'contamination' with milk - he can be quite off-hand in restaurants and with shop bought food about possible milk risks. He has a fairly high tolerance for milk these days so that he just gets uncomfortable if there is a tiny bit of milk product in his food (for example, a restaurant serving buttered potatoes and plain potatoes with the same spoon would cause him to be 'gloopy' rather than full-on 4 days of sick).

The other change, which I have just put down to our lives is his tiredness. Mr PTC is not a natural early riser. He loves bed (hah so do I!). But when we first met Mr PTC regularly got up before me at the weekend (I'm a slob when I don't have to get up). These days he can sleep all day unless I drag him out of bed. He is also more grumpy, which I've put down to work stress, being together for longer (the honeymoon period doesn't last forever, right?) and the tiredness he is experiencing.

So we just continued ignoring all of this. We discussed on and off doing a 'trial' of no dairy at all or going gluten/wheat free, but we just never got on with it. Well January was hard around here. I was properly sick for the first time since I was a kid and Mr PTC clearly had a milder version of it to. We were wiped out. Work was getting on top of us, the house looked like a bomb had hit it and we weren't packing ready for our move. So we decided to go gluten free, I'm not sure why. It just seemed like a good idea.

Well on Wednesday (20th) we stopped after three weeks of gluten free. Now nothing earth shattering happened in those three weeks, and nothing earth shattering has happened since. It certainly is nothing like the experience of my mother or father in law who experienced really quite extreme improvements in health during their first few weeks of being gluten free, or the awful effects of a subsequent 'accident' once they had been glu-free for a few weeks. However, since Wednesday Mr PTC has been exhausted, more stressed and more grumpy. His tummy has also started complaining - oddly though he hadn't noticed it 'clearing up', but having thought about it, he is convinced he had less 'glooping' during those few weeks of gluten free. I also noticed that I was less tired during those few weeks, though things are less clear for me (I was also not as careful about gluten because the test wasn't really for me).

Now I'm not going to jump to conclusions here. This is by no means a massive change in health. We've also had ups and downs at work and in our personal lives (we lost a cat, and our neighbour had emergency surgery - but those are posts for another day), and the change in diet also coincided with me making more home-cooked food (fewer nasty ingredients), and using up the freezer contents, which right now is mainly joints of meat. We have probably therefore, accidentally been fairly close the the 'paleo' diet that everyone is raving about online. See it is murky territory!

So for now, we are continuing with eating an all inclusive diet and making sure Mr PTC ingests some wheat/gluten everyday (as my dad says 'a glu-full' diet). Mr PTC is now taking this to the doctors and hopefully we can convince them to take this seriously given the family history. Diagnosis of gluten-allergy in the UK seems to depend largely on how good your GP is! Unfortunately, for a full clinical diagnosis in the UK a blood test for antigens is not sufficient; instead a biopsy of the bowel is required. This also means that Mr PTC must continue eating wheat/gluten for the time being until the biopsy is done.

Regardless of what happens, we will be changing our diet, at least for a short time. We will wait until the doctors do what they must for diagnosis. If the results come back negative we will still try going gluten/wheat free again, and I might join in properly this time. There seems to be a lot evidence that even if you do not have the autoimmune response that is present in people with Coeliac disease, that wheat is not great for us. While I love my food, I also love having energy and more than that I want Mr PTC to be happy and well. So after doctors appointments and moving house in April we will go on some sort of detox. I'm thinking the paleo diet having read so much about it, but I'm still researching to find out what I think is best. Whatever happens though, I have a feeling that a full re-evaluation of our diet/lifestyle is well overdue and may be one of the best things to start afresh with the house move. We will have space for growing our own vegetables and maybe that is just the incentive I need to move to a healthier, less refined, diet. I love growing things, and I do so love to eat too!

If you have any experience of dietary issues, trying different diets or the paleo diet I would love to hear from you and share your experiences. I am acutely aware that one in three people with Coeliac disease in their family will develop Coeliac disease. That means there is a fairly high probability that Mr PTC and/or I will develop it or even already have it! I'm also aware that my mother and my father in-law were left undiagnosed for years, and in some ways have never fully recovered from the damage done before diagnosis. I don't want this to happen to Mr PTC and me, or anyone else for that matter.

Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by,
Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com

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