I have had a gluten free diet since 2010.
*Just to clarify: I’m not talking about Coeliac disease here as this is much more life limiting and actually very different to an intolerance.
**It’s important to have any new bowel changes checked by your doctor and not to assume you have an intolerance**
UPDATE: 2022 – I had a hysterectomy (see blog on my journey) and it appears I had a rare ovarian tumour which would have contributed to my more recent bloating and discomfort so as always it is important to consider all health factors with unusual bloating or gut changes.
Good to Know:
During peri menopause it’s common to develop new intolerances or for prior intolerances to increase in severity; with gluten and wheat being regular offenders.
Good to Know:
Alcohol further aggravates your bowel and the associated symptoms of both peri menopause and gluten intolerance
If you’re reading this then you know the symptoms, but in case you don’t I have listed a few symptoms of what you might consider a ‘flare up’ to get you thinking.
In my experience and that of my clients, the biggest issue is the unpredictability of an intolerance which makes planning so problematic.
One minute your tum is fine, relaxed, calm and quiet… then you have a snack and aaahhhh!!!! you’re rushing to the loo with an exploding bottom in the middle of the supermarket!
I think my intolerance began at around 9 or 10 years old as I have a clear memory of being very nervous of leaving the toilet to go on a school trip. I had pains, wind and a slight feeling of dread at being on a coach for 5 hours.
As I grew up, every doctor diagnosed me with IBS which is such a general term and after a dietician worked with me in 2003, I was told (incorrectly), that I needed to cut out salt and fat from my diet.
I didn’t need to and only discovered wheat was my issue when my husband and I did a month long detox in 2010.
During the detox we cut out all processed food and drink
As we reintroduced foods one by one….wheat day was hell!
And so, my wheat intolerance had a name. (yay!)
I have since made three big mistakes with wheat but one of those felt very unfair.
I had asked a coffee shop owner whether a cake had any gluten in it which she assured me it did not.
I was not well for three days after that! The coffee shop owner later informed me that she hadn’t ‘put any gluten in the cake’ so it was fine!!!!!
Always take responsibility for your gluten intolerance and double, TRIPLE check everything before eating it
An undiagnosed gluten intolerance over a long period of time can leave you with a very confused and angry bowel which is irritated by other things too (my bowel was angry but I was pretty mad with it too!)
The indications of a wheat/gluten intolerance can be some or all of the following soon after eating a wheat or gluten food item:
(My reaction starts around 10-20 minutes after eating it, with an indigestion type feeling)
Urgency to dash to to the loo! (this is a HUGE stress for many!)
What can you eat?
You don’t need to know the science of wheat and gluten from me but as a little clarification I will tell you that wheat intolerance is slightly different to a full gluten intolerance in that a wheat intolerant person is likely to be able to eat things like oats which have oat gluten in them. A gluten intolerant person or a coeliac will not. It’s just a trial and error process to establish where you sit with wheat and gluten I’m afraid, although there are tests for Coeliac disease.
I’m actually only wheat intolerant myself, but the impact on my innards and life, has been the same as a gluten intolerant person and it has taken many test situations to find this out.
I now know that what I SHOULD have done 10 years ago, was limit my wheat intake rather than completely exclude it. As I eliminated it totally, I have made my intolerance much worse, so even a tiny bit of wheat in my diet will really set me off! (Soy sauce is my nemesis – Why is wheat even in soy sauce?!)
The results of a wheat/gluten intolerance are highly unpleasant but it’s fabulous to become more knowledgable about the subject so you can eliminate the distress and upset from your life!
It’s pretty easy to be gluten free these days. It just requires a bit of knowledge and planning. Most things are available gluten free now; (even the annoying Soy Sauce)
Don’t buy gluten free items (such as oat cakes) from the gluten free section of a shop as you will often pay much more for the pleasure of having the words GLUTEN FREE stamped on the packaging! The same gluten free oat cakes, chocolate, cereals etc..are available in the everyday aisles at a lower price – just remember to double check the ingredients.
Always consider your individual medical situation when changing anything and if you are concerned about your health, please visit your doctor asap.
Jane Pangbourne is an HRT educator, accredited nutritionist and women’s health practitioner.
When you need more help with your hormones, your symptoms, or your HRT choice, you can book a consultation via the services page HERE