31 December 2007

herself, against the grain

Anyone who has ever had migraine knows the feeling of being on their own in the world. The things we do to avoid getting them pit us against mainstream life. We give up or limit caffeine, chocolate, red wine, msg, nitrites and aspartame. We try to avoid stress, get a good night's sleep, moderate exercise and regular meals to control blood sugar. We also know the latest in migraine pain relief. We might try acupuncture, massage and other non-traditional treatment. And if you visit a site dedicated to dealing with and preventing migraine, you will undoubtably see many if not all of these things there. But what you probably won't see on those sites is much about the correspondance between migraine and the gluten intolerant. And while suspected links between migraine and food allergies may be raised, they are frequently dismissed. You would have to search alternative medicine sites to find those types of discussions.

This is an attempt to bridge the gap between migraine blogs and those dealing with gluten intolerance and food allergy. I am not a medical professional. I am a migraineur who until four years ago tried to deal with my migraine with over the counter drugs or with nothing at all. I suspected that alcohol made my symptoms worse, as did the weather, but I would have sworn I had no food triggers. Last year, in desperation, I went to an alternative clinic to have all my hormone levels checked to see if that was the cause. What I learned instead was that I was gluten intolerant and allergic (delayed IgG allergies) to over 20 different foods, many of them my favorites that I consumed on a regular basis. The gluten intolerance had probably been going on for some time as I had vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to malabsorbtion. The revelations rocked my world (not in a good way) and I have found it difficult to find sites that really speak to me.

I hope to chronicle my experiences over the last year learning to live without gluten, egg, dairy, brown rice, corn sugar and many other foods, additives and preservatives. I have learned the hard way to deal with eating out successfully, travel, cooking and baking in a whole new world...and oh,yes, maintaining my weight when all the good whole grains were no longer available to me. I am hoping that in doing this, I will find some company and maybe help some other lost souls with tips for making a food allergy restaurant card, adapting favorite recipes and trying new things.

The good news is that one year later, while not headache free by any means, I am much better. I owe most of this to my new gluten free life and I think, a bit, from the encouragment and positive outlook that most of you in the gluten free world have to offer. I'd like to start 2008 giving some of that back.

Happy New Year!