Years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition in which my body mistakenly attacks its own thyroid tissue. As a result of Hashimoto’s I have hypothyroidism and a slew of other symptoms including chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, dry skin, muscle soreness, depression and a very puffy face (differential diagnosis: adulthood).
At the time of my diagnosis I was told to eliminate gluten from my diet. The body can easily mistake this genetically modified compound for natural thyroid hormone which triggers an autoimmune response that leads to cell inflammation.
Since my diagnosis I have remained mostly unwilling to give up the goodness of gluten. Gluten is in all things delicious, namely beer, pasta and bread. Anyone who says that gluten-free shit is just as good as the real stuff is a lying sack of flour. And in any case my general malaise and constant discomfort feel so normal these days that I hardly notice my own condition. But alas the time has come for me to say goodbye to gluten.
Recently something triggered an inflammatory auto-immune response in my body. It feels like little men with blades are dueling in my intestines, like someone took a hammer to my joints and sandpaper to my muscles. It seems as though someone poured sludge in my brain.
And so today I begin a new lifestyle, a paleo diet amended to address autoimmune inflammation. This evening while mincing ginger for a chicken and broccoli stir-fry I sliced part of my thumb off. As the blood gushed onto my cutting board (and the ginger) I realized that implementing this lifestyle change is going to be really, really hard.
This lifestyle will require me to plan for and prepare many of my meals in advance. I must be diligent and thoughtful about my food and I must accept that my choices will be limited when I eat out. I must let go of the comfort of ordering takeout. I must start using food as fuel and stop using it as therapy.
In this journey toward healing and health I will remember that change does not happen overnight and that setbacks are part of recovery. I will remind myself that even though gluten is damn delicious it does not nourish my body, my brain or my soul in the ways that I need. I will learn more and more about nutrition and how to use unfamiliar foods like jicama. I will treat my body with respect and watch it grow healthier, stronger and happier. Food will be my medicine and I will use it to get well.
Goodbye gluten, you delicious evil bastard.