When I first realized that I was gluten intolerant, I had spent months feeling completely out of sorts and had no idea what was wrong. My mind went through what I was feeling: run down, no energy, sore everywhere, joints literally felt like they were creaking – and it came up with so many issues, from cancer to just being too busy/active and needing sleep (aka getting old). I always ate fairly healthy, i was active in a number of sports and just life in general, but something was wrong.
I finally got to talk to a naturopath (I’m not a fan of regular doctors) and she suggested right from the start that I was gluten intolerant, which I immediately dismissed because I thought that an intolerance essentially was an allergic reaction, and I definitely hadn’t stopped breathing after eating bread. And I was a big fan of craft beer, so gluten intolerance wasn’t something that even came to mind.
Turns out she was right, and within a few weeks of going 100% gluten free, I felt so much better, and have been on that course for the last 2 years.
It can be difficult to know when something is wrong with your body, especially when the symptoms come on slowly over time. Sometimes when people experience a gluten intolerance it can develop over many years, and other times, it can come on swiftly and bring you to your knees in pain. If the latter doesn’t happen to you, but you are wondering if you might be gluten intolerant, watch for these signs that you’re gluten intolerant and then see a doctor if you suspect this is the case. A doctor may order a Celiac test to help you determine for sure if your symptoms are very strong, but if they are in the list below, and you’re just feeling ‘blah’, then just gluten intolerance may be the issue.
Here are some the signs that may tell if you’re gluten intolerant:
Unexpected Weight Gain/ Weight Loss
Sure, it seems like all medical conditions have the symptom of weight gain or weight loss associated with them, but when it comes to gluten intolerance, you should definitely watch for a sudden drop or increase in your weight. It can be incredibly disconcerting to know that you’re following the same routine with food and exercise but are inexplicably losing weight. Because your body will be reacting to the gluten ingested, your intestines will become damaged, so your body is working harder to process the foods and this could result in weight loss. If you have a sudden, unexpected weight gain, you might want to consider getting tested for gluten intolerance as well. While it seems like a great side effect to lose weight, people can become very ill and weak when they lose weight too rapidly. And certainly, your stomach will not feel great while this is happening to you.
You know that feeling you get when you just can’t seem to get your act together? It could be a side effect of gluten intolerance. When your body is busy trying to process poison – which is basically what gluten is to someone who is gluten intolerant – you can become very tired and distracted from the way you are feeling. Without further investigation, you might never know why you are feeling like you have a weight on your shoulders and a cloud hanging over your head. If you experiment with your food, you might find yourself feeling better. But consult a doctor before beginning any new diet routine. A simple test can tell you if you have gluten intolerance.
Pain in Your Joints and Muscles
Typically, people who suffer from gluten intolerance experience a whole repertoire of symptoms including joint and muscle pain. This can sometimes get written off as arthritis by some doctors, but the trigger is the autoimmune response that your body has to gluten. Inflammation is your body’s way of trying to heal something, but with gluten intolerance your body thinks its under attack when it really isn’t, so it attacks its own system, causing inflammation that is normally felt in the joints.
I know that when my own symptoms started, it was the worst in my joints, to the point that I couldn’t even type.
When you speak to a doctor be sure to mention that you feel tired and your body is sore. It might not seem related to your stomach issues, but it could help with a diagnosis.
Depression and Anxiety
Being gluten intolerant doesn’t only present physical symptoms, it can also manifest as psychological illness. Imagine if every time you ate something you started to feel sick. What if every time you are eating something you feel sick? It could be a sign of gluten intolerance. Feeling poorly after eating a meal can really play on someone’s mind and make them feel anxious about eating their next meal. It can also make people very sad to consider that there are foods in their lives that they just can’t eat anymore. People have a huge attachment to food so it’s no wonder some people feel lost when they feel sick from eating. It has been shown that gluten can cause depression and anxiety if you have an intolerance. The exact science behind this hasn’t been fully examined, but there are numerous examples of depression being linked to gluten intolerance.
This is not everyday ‘I stayed up too late watching Netflix’ fatigue. Fatigue as a result of gluten intolerance is draining, and generally occurs soon after eating gluten-containing products. Gluten related fatigue can also be caused by malabsorption of vitamins as that can cause anemia and insomnia.
Sometimes the number one symptom associated with being gluten intolerant is having an upset stomach every time you ingest gluten. This is the main sign of gluten intolerance. After eating meals heavy in gluten such as pasta, pizza, bread (basically any of the Italian cuisine) you may feel bloated, have stomach cramps, bad gas, constipation, or diarrhea. You might not notice it at first, especially if your symptoms come on slowly over time, but by paying attention to what you eat and how you feel afterwards, you can help determine if you might have a gluten intolerance. Speak to your naturopathic doctor when you put two and two together on this one so you can start getting tested right away. If you can catch it early, you can reduce the amount of effort it will take to reset your body and your diet. These symptoms can be linked to other intolerances, so it’s good to check to see if you have other signs of gluten intolerance to make sure.
The only true way to test if you’re gluten intolerant is to fully remove gluten from your diet. You may feel better within days or weeks, but if you can go 100% gluten free for at least 6 months then try introducing it back in and judge your body’s reaction. In my case, I don’t feel a reaction till about 2 days later, so make sure you take your time and really think about how you feel after reintroducing it as a test.
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