Knowledge is Power: Is your food making you sick?
By Sharon Goldner, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Professional Chef , Wellness Speaker and Author
When I first met Laura Madrigano, she came into my office carrying a large handbag filled with personal items and snack foods, and was lugging a stand-by emergency kit with ice packets, cold water and a pharmacy of natural remedies. It made me a little nervous that she was apparently so fragile, but mostly sympathetic that she was so burdened—in more ways than one.
Laura complained of constant fatigue, constipation, headaches, weight gain, fluctuating moods and “random” SVTs. She also painted a bigger picture about the health concerns of her parents and siblings that revealed some valuable clues about the possible source of her problems. I didn’t know anything about SVT at the time, but I did theorize that some or all of her symptoms were connected to her diet.
A lot of ailments can be caused or worsened by more than one food or situation. But when someone exhibits four or five or more health complaints, I consider whether it is all connected, and in Laura’s case, I suspected that the common denominator was gluten. Laura was already pretty certain that dairy products did not agree with her.
Happy to be Gluten-Free
So, over the following four months, we slowly modified Laura’s diet by replacing the gluten and dairy, and added in more vegetables and gluten free grains like brown rice, quinoa and millet. Laura embraced her new regimen because it was easy to prepare, tasted good and immediately made a difference in some of her symptoms. Like a lot of people, after six months, Laura became doubtful and lax on her gluten-free diet, and started eating gluten again, only to get quite sick. At that point, she needed a test to confirm the diagnoses and to become committed to a diet that would set her free from illness and the crippling fear of SVTs. Indeed the test came back positive for gluten (one gene of celiac, and one gene of non-celiac gluten-sensitive), dairy, beef and a few other foods. It was only when she totally eliminated gluten that her SVTs dramatically decreased and that she experienced a complete turnaround in her energy levels, digestion, anxiety and more.
My Own Story
Throughout my life I have been prone to eczema, food allergies, mood swings, vertigo, anemia and fatigue. I exercised and ate well, but I still suffered. My daughters also had a variety of health issues throughout their young lives. No doctor had ever connected the dots for any of us, or between us, as to what was causing all of our symptoms (I always inquire about the health of immediate blood-relatives of all my clients for additional clues). In 2010, my chiropractor suggested I get tested at an out-of-network lab specializing in gluten and food sensitivities.
When I learned that I carried the non-celiac gluten sensitive gene, and that it likely explained my own list of ailments, it initially felt like a curse and a relief. A curse because to be gluten-free is an all-or-nothing commitment to avoid gluten-containing foods forever. But it’s a relief to be free of illness, discomfort and fear. Sometimes I miss the ease of ordering whatever I want off a menu, or partaking in the community food at a special event, but it is never worth the price of feeling sick. I am functioning at a whole new level of wellness, and I am certain that I will live a longer and healthier life. And yes, all of my family members tested positive and are also strictly gluten-free.
Making Lemonade out of Lemons
I have since focused my health coaching practice on helping people identify if they are gluten- intolerant, and if so, transition to a GF diet. In the end, it is such a simple solution, that many people cannot believe that improved health is within their reach!
In upcoming blogs, I will discuss what is gluten, where is it found, the many symptoms of gluten intolerance, and more about the testing. Until then, I leave you with this thought:
Wouldn’t it be amazing if it was just a matter of changing your diet that would allow you to have a life you didn’t think was even possible?
Sharon Goldner is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, chef, wellness speaker and cookbook author. Through her coaching practice and group lectures, she helps clients and audiences make the connection between food, lifestyle and the body. With this new understanding, people can easily implement the tools to improve their diet, health and happiness. Her health coaching practice, Recipe for a Healthy Life, is located in Fanwood, New Jersey.
Sharon recently wrote a cookbook, to view it click here: