Even though auto-immune diseases affect you on the inside, really -- with psoriasis -- it's the outside that usually bothers us the most. The dry skin everywhere is embarrassing (and can be painful, especially when the weather is super dry and it cracks). Seeing my red arms in the mirror during Tahitian dance class would always make me feel self-conscious. The greasy medications leaving trails everywhere make me crazy. On pole days, I'd have to choose between using lotions and medications (which means I won't stick to the pole) or having a good pole (but bad skin) day.
I initially played around with the idea of going gluten-free in 2011. I remember trying out a gluten-free pizza and it completely hurting my stomach (probably related to the gastric bypass). I don't think I actually tried very hard and would certainly not say I really tried going gluten-free.
Ellen strongly suggested I go gluten-free when we started working together in 2014. I wasn't ready. I promised to just eat less bread (while I was limiting sugar), but I just couldn't be on a "diet" (although I guess cutting sugar was being on a diet...whatever...let's change one thing at a time here...I'm change-resistant).
My psoriasis has been flaring up lately and I recently decided to get back on Stelara (check out that link for "before photos"). Ellen was disappointed that I didn't come to her to talk about potential diet changes before getting back on medication but I was desperate. However, she did finally talk me into going gluten-free. I have officially been gluten-free for a whole week and a half, and no one has died, including me! (I recognize I won't know if it's the Stelara or the diet fixing my skin, but I don't care...I lost three pounds and did notice that my eyelids are suddenly less swollen so I'm going to guess the inflammation is already going down.)
I rarely just buy bread to keep at my house, so that isn't difficult. It's really what happens when I go out. For example, when I had a doctor's appointment in San Jose (an hour plus away from my house...more like 2-plus hours when in traffic), I decided to get dinner before heading home. I used an app on my phone to find a gluten-free pizza place with good reviews. The pizza was delicious, although it did upset my stomach a little. I am trying to avoid changing my diet to a "gluten-free processed food filled" diet. So, really, I'm trying to just be better at what I tried a few years ago -- just eating less food filled with gluten. However, I won't lie...I get easily overwhelmed when it comes to food so I have picked up some gluten-free raviolis for dinner this week.
|Two weeks after first Stelara shot|
Gluten seems to be tucked away in so many places. Soy sauce (a lot of sauces and salad dressings, actually). Licorice. Shredded cheese (rolled in flour so it won't stick to the bag). Some chocolates. Black Angus uses wheat butter on their steaks. Going gluten-free isn't just about not eating bread or products containing wheat. It's checking every label (I'm using a scanner app that will tell me if the foods in the grocery store have gluten in them). It's knowing all the weird foods that may have something hiding in them. It's not eating french fries at places that also fry their breaded chicken in the same fryer.
Ellen recently put out a newsletter about gluten:
"The reality is, gluten is unsafe for 100% of humans, 100% of the time. Our digestive systems lack the enzymes necessary to break down the protein structures, which means these large undigested proteins make their way through our systems. As they do, the inflammation created irritates the walls of the small intestine, creating something called intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut."
You can read the rest of that newsletter HERE.