Sunday, 12 January 2014

Selling out: my pre-FET GF cleanse

I've never been one for fad diets.  As much as I've spent a large portion of my life "dieting" (sad, I know, and not even really necessary), I've never followed any specific plan other than counting calories and trying to eat less bad stuff and more good stuff.  Atkins, South Beach, low-carb, no carb, Paleo, primal...they all confuse me with their seemingly arbitrary restrictions, and quite frankly any diet that tells me I can't have something at all (even in moderation) is bound to fail.

Now, before everyone starts shouting at me, I realize that going gluten-free (GF) isn't a diet per se.  Of course, unless you're putting yourself in the poorhouse by gorging yourself on expensive GF substitutes, quite often you'll lose weight on a GF diet because you're cutting out calorically dense foods like bread, pasta, and most baked treats.  Which is great, if that's what you're going for.  But for a lot of people, going GF isn't something they're doing to lose a few pounds.  It's something they have to do because their health depends on it.  One of those people is my sister.

My sister was diagnosed with Celiac disease when she was pregnant with my niece.  Unlike a lot of people with Celiac who have digestive issues, my sister was totally asymptomatic apart from a longstanding issue with anemia that even iron supplements couldn't fix.  Turns out that's because her gut was so damaged from gluten that she couldn't absorb it properly.  Once she got pregnant, it seems that her Celiac kicked into high gear and she had a lot of trouble eating anything at all for a while.  It went beyond normal morning sickness, but fortunately her doctor figured it out relatively quickly and she's been healthy ever since going totally GF.

Given this history, gluten intolerance was pretty much the first thing I got tested for when we started having problems conceiving.  Though I've never had any digestive issues at all, I found myself in the unlikely position of hoping that I had asymptomatic Celiac as well, since it was something I could fix.  Take bread out of belly = put baby in belly!  Simple equation!  As we all know, for me it wasn't that easy.  My Celiac blood panel came back clean, and a later test at a naturopath's office (just for good measure) yielded similar results.

I got 99 problems, but a 'wich ain't one.

Which brings me to the crux of my dilemma: going GF when you don't absolutely need to for health reasons.  On the one hand, the increasing number of people who are eating GF has meant huge growth in the availability of GF foods, which is a great thing for people like my sister.  She's no longer relegated to one aisle in the grocery store like some kind of digestive leper.  But the flip side of that coin is that GF is taken a lot less seriously, because most of the people eating this way won't die (or even get seriously sick) if a speck of gluten gets into their food through cross-contamination.  Lots of restaurants are now claiming to offer GF menu options, even though their allegedly GF potatoes are fried in the same oil as their gluten-filled breaded chicken.  My sister has been served croutons on a Caesar salad accompanying her GF meal, and had to specifically ask for a new salad rather than just having the waiter take it back and pick off the offending bits.  This would be unacceptable if the customer had a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to, say, shrimp.  But being GF has become so common, nay, so trendy, that it isn't taken as seriously by food manufacturers anymore.  This is despite the fact that people like my sister, with true Celiac, will get sick even if it's not immediately visible.

It may sound like it, but I really don't intend to crap on people who have genuine digestive or other health problems caused by gluten intolerance, even if they don't have full-blown Celiac.  If going GF makes you feel more healthy, then by all means do so!  And I'm all too aware of the fact that there are a lot of women in the online IF community who've finally had success with cycles where they went totally GF, despite the absence of any obvious pre-existing problems caused by gluten.  So there's that.  I just have personal issues with people jumping on the GF train for absolutely no reason other than the fact that it's the latest thing that they think will make them skinny, or because they believe that gluten is the source of all health problems, or whatever.

Anyway, the gist of all of this is that I've decided to go GF for the next two weeks leading up to my FET.  I feel like such a sellout!  And yet it's a relatively easy thing to do, so why would I not try everything possible given that this is our last shot with my eggs?  I have to admit that I'm not sold on the idea that it will help, but I'm also curious to see if a GF regimen will have any impact on other inflammatory issues that I've been dealing with (namely, hereditary psoriasis that's been getting steadily worse over the past year or two).  My doctor seems to think it's worth a try.  To make myself feel mildly better about it, I've decided to tie it in to a general clean-eating regimen linked to my latest fitness program, which is much more focused on weight training than on cardio.  I've stocked up on fruits, veggies and lean protein for the week to come, and am staying away from GF breads or other snack substitutes (because they're not strictly "clean" due to the chemicals required to stabilize them).  At best, I'll find myself pregnant in a month's time, at which point I'll become an insufferable advocate of a GF lifestyle to deal with infertility.  At worst, I might start seeing some strength gains and more muscle definition.  Can we call that win-win?  Yes, let's.

24 comments:

  1. I have really struggled with this issue. It seems everyone I know now a days has either Celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance. I think that giving up gluten definitely won't hurt and will even help us lose a few extra pounds. I've also seen a few woman give this up and become pregnant after suffering through infertility for many years. I have really thought about doing this, but I guess I am lazy and stuck in my bad ways. I love my breads and other bad foods so much. I do try to cut down on these things and I do implement more veggies, fruits, proteins into my diet. There is always a voice in the back of my head reminding me it could help us get pregnant though.

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    1. I had the same struggle and the same laziness. Maybe that's why I'm doing it now...because it's only for 2 weeks. Although I guess I'll have to keep it up if I get pregnant!

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  2. Don't think of it as selling out. Think of it as doing whatever it takes. Like you said, this is your last chance with your own eggs, so you might as well make it count! I have a good feeling about this FET and hope like heck this is the one!!

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    1. I really hope that good feeling of yours is right!

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  3. Not sure if you got my response to your comment on my blog, but just in case not: I just had a conversation with a woman who went through something like 6 years of fertility treatments and 3 years of pursuing adoption (she adopted a son), only to find out that she has Celiac’s….she went on a gluten-free diet and then, without trying at all, she became unexpectedly pregnant. She is now 7 months pregnant." INSANE. But true. Good luck!! xo

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    1. Totally insane! But at least she can tell people it was the Celiac rather than hearing them say "well it was because you finally relaxed!"

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  4. I'm a sell out as well, After my D+C I started reducing gluten with the plan to go GF in the New Year. It's only 12 days in, I cheated with having one cookie, but after receiving my path reports, and knowing that I could have been on a gluten only diet and it wouldn't have made a difference, I still didn't have the urge to indulge on bread or cakes. Interestingly, (although I've done nine sessions of Cross fit since my D+C, started running 1-2 times per week -8 miles yesterday- and picked up some 20 minute yoga DVDs) my weight has increased 3-4 lbs, but I feel that I actually look less frumpy than I did pre-D+C. I've definately reduced my carb intake, sticking to gluten free cereal and granola bars, with the awareness that some GF foods have extra sugar and other additives. My goal was to give it to the end of the month and re-assess at that time.

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    1. I'd actually be OK with a small weight gain, since right now I'm focusing on lifting heavier than I'm used to and wouldn't mind putting on some muscle. Ideally, I'd like to have an ass someday! It'll be interesting to see how I feel at the end of it, since I'll probably stay GF a month or so as well (2 weeks leading up to FET, then the 2WW). Let's compare notes. Although fair warning: if it's BFN I'm going to eat half a dozen gluten-filled cupcakes!

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    2. Oh, I would like to give you some of my ass. Yes, it's all muscle, blah,blah, but it's still huge!

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    3. I know the grass is always greener, but I would gladly trade you my pancake ass for some of that badonkadonk.

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  5. This definitely falls under the category of can't hurt. Gotta try everything, right? I was on a high alkaline/low acidic diet. My acupuncturist said acidic foods could create a hostile environment. Going GF isn't any crazier than that.

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  6. Sounds good girl. It's actually not too hard to do if it's just gluten, for two weeks. We've done the Paleo diet so we eliminated all sugar, soy, legumes, and carbs. So gluten was of course part of that. After we finished with Paleo, we went gluten free for a little while. It's totally doable for a short amount of time. I am hoping and praying and having everything crossed that you're going to be the next one announcing your long awaited BFP.

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  7. Win-win sounds always good. And any weight gain is going to be from muscles ;) When I started exercising again after birth, I first gained weight... but my pants started to somewhat fit. The big ones. I'm still in those because I love my carbs. Hoping that this cycle works out for you, whether due to GF or otherwise!

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  8. I've heard of people who had success with gluten free diets, so I say why not try it? I hope it works for you :)

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  9. I have several family members with Celiacs, but I don't have it. BUT... I know several people without Celiacs, like my brother, who have found other issues are related to eating gluten. He broke his ankle when he was a teenager, and unless he's gluten free, he has pain in his ankle. A GF diet also helped my mom get rid of arthritis pain. Anyway, I decided to try a GF diet after my second miscarriage, just in case. Since I got pregnant & stayed pregnant after that, I've had to force myself to stick to gluten free!
    You better believe I have a list of gluten-filled goodies in my head that I plan to eat after this baby is born!
    I hope this cycle works for you!!!

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    1. Yeah, I've thought that if I wind up pregnant, I'm going to have to stick to GF because I'll be too paranoid to try otherwise! But I'll be slamming back the cake on the delivery table.

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  10. Ha! I talked a good game over new years and I have yet to go gluten free. I'm too much in your camp--I don't have an intolerance and I find the GF fad a little annoying. That and the fact that I don't even know when I'm going to cycle next makes it hard to motivate. But, I think GF has some validity, my acupuncturist kept telling me that I had so much inflammation caused by the gluten that I should just go GF to give my ovaries and uterus a break. Two weeks isn't too hard and it's a much better idea to cut the carbs than buy $5 loaves of gluten free bread. Although I haven't followed through on the GF, I have been eating better and exercising more, so I feel like at least I'm doing something to get my body baby ready. Maybe when I'm ready to step it up I'll go GF.

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    1. Yeah, to hear naturopaths and other crunchy granolas talk, "inflammation" caused by gluten is the source of virtually everything that's wrong with us. That's another part of why I've been so hesitant to jump on the bandwagon, because I think they're vastly overstating the problem. I had a huge WTF moment when my regular family doctor started preaching a totally gluten and dairy-free diet as a cure-all. But we'll see. I could be eating my words in a month's time.

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  11. I definitely call it a win-win. So many of the things we do falls into the "can't hurt, might help" category. Sounds like a great plan to me!

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  12. Good luck with your GF diet. Whatever makes you feel like you're giving it your "best shot"….makes sense to me. You're totally NOT a sell out though. ;)

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  13. Good luck! My sister has celiac and she's been "gluten free" long before it was ever called that. I don't know why I'm always annoyed with people who are suddenly cured of everything when they go GF. I want to scream "PLACEBO!" at them, but why does it matter? They feel great, so who cares if it's a false great feeling? Probably because I'm lazy and I don't want something "challenging" to be the answer. I hope it works for you though!

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  14. Go ahead and disregard my above statement and add me to the sell out list. I guess after everything else I have tried and all the freaking money I have spent, why not :)

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  15. I meant to comment on this post to say how funny I thought the idea of you being an insufferable advocate of anything was. :)

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  16. I would have such a hard time with a GF diet because I like bread and sweets waaaaaaaaaayyy too much! But I know that when you are eating clean and cutting out the junk, you do feel better and don't have the cravings for those things. I'm just not currently there! It's been two weeks now since this post, so I hope it's gone well. Looking forward to catching up on your posts and finding out!

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I'm needy and your comments validate me. Help a sister out!