Oh, where to begin? I guess it all started after I had my youngest baby, which was one year ago! (I can’t believe he’s already a year old!!!) Anyway, after I had him, I noticed I felt super tired all the time, more tired than I felt after having my first two. I could sleep eight hours or more and still be totally exhausted. My hair was falling out like crazy. I couldn’t lose weight no matter how few calories I ate. I started feeling random burning sensations in my feet. At the time, I just figured my hormones were out of whack because I had just had a baby. I figured over time, it would all even out and things would get back to normal. Six months later, I was still having the same symptoms and I went to the doctor for a physical. I told her about what was going on, so she check my thyroid, iron, and B12 levels. Those tests came back normal, and instead of going back to the doctor to see if she could do more tests to figure out what was going on, I just figured I’d give it time to see what happened.
Fast forward four months and I was relaxing on the couch one night before bed and all of a sudden my face, hands, and feet started tingling like crazy. They kept tingling for hours, until finally I went to sleep. The next day when I woke up, they weren’t tingling any more, but I felt rundown like I had a virus, and the tingling would come and go throughout the day, accompanied by a headache and cold sensations running down my arms and legs. I went to the doctor, and once again she tested my thyroid, and also ordered a brain MRI. The thyroid test came back normal, and so did the brain MRI. In the meantime, I had more episodes of tingling, extreme fatigue, headaches, and cold sensations. SO weird.
I’ve always been really healthy, never had any major medical problems, so all of this was really scary. It was also really frustrating, because I didn’t feel like myself, and I had 3 kids 4 years old and younger and trying to take care of them with no energy was a huge challenge. I just wanted my old self back. At the time, I happened to be reading a book called Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, which was talking about the connection between our gut and our brain. It was describing my bizarre symptoms perfectly, and explaining that some of it could be caused by an unhealthy gut. The book also outlined a plan to heal the gut, which I was really intrigued by. It is amazing how much information I have read since then about the powerful connection between our gut health and our brain and immune system. After finishing the book, I began looking for more resources on healing gut inflammation and found many different books and articles. One common thread in all of them was the need to eliminate dairy and gluten. Not that those foods are inherently unhealthy, but for someone like me, who could have severe gut inflammation, gluten and dairy can make things a whole lot worse. So, I immediately eliminated gluten. It was the day before Thanksgiving, so that was not an easy decision! I love baking, and cooking, and eating, and I knew cutting out gluten would be a big adjustment. It was about 6 days after I stopped eating gluten that the tingling went away, and I didn’t feel as rundown as before. I made it through the holidays without anymore episodes of tingling, headaches, cold sensations, and then I eliminated dairy. A few days after cutting out dairy and just eating meat, vegetables, and fruit, the difference was night and day. I could get out of bed in the morning without feeling exhausted. My hair stopped falling out. I was finally losing weight. No more weird symptoms going on. I finally started feeling like my old self again. It was such a relief to be feeling somewhat normal again!
Now that it’s been a few months gluten and dairy free, I still feel good most of the time. I’m feeling better than I have in a really long time, and I know that cutting out gluten and dairy have a lot to do with that. I eat mostly vegetables, meat, and fruit, some gluten free whole grains, and the occasional sugary treat. Right now, that’s been working for me, and I couldn’t be happier to have my old self back. So, if you’re struggling with strange symptoms that you and your doctor haven’t been able to get to the bottom of, it could be worth a try to see if changing your diet helps. Read up on the connection between the brain and the gut in books like Brain Maker and The Autoimmune Solution. Check out some articles on leaky gut. Food plays a HUGE role in our health, and even though it can’t take the place of modern medicine, it can make a huge difference in how your body operates. What have you got to lose?
*Note: This post is not intended as medical advice. I am a dietitian, not a physician, and if you have any medical concerns, please consult your doctor.