Gluten Glutton

The stuff that goes on Behind the Scenes of a writer isn’t just about the words, the creativity, or finding new and better ways to get one’s butt into the chair to do the work.

To be effective Behind the Scenes, I’ve learned that I need to rest when tired, drink—water preferably—when thirsty, and to eat when hungry. It’s easy to put all three aside when in the zone and the writing is going well. I segue for a moment…

Part of my health journey for the past few years was to discover why I was having severe sinus issues, got vertigo, had been experiencing foot neuropathy since 2000 and had been having digestive issues starting about 2005. Every doctor I went to had no clue, and then one along the way said, “It’s going to be attached to a big disease down the road.”

In 2014, I asked my GP for a C-reactive Protein (CRP) blood test. I wanted to know my body’s level of inflammation. If high, that would tell me something was going on. The doctor tried to talk me out of it: expensive (it was but not to his $500 number. More like $250), insurance probably wouldn’t pay for it (they did), and it wouldn’t tell me much (it would give me the inflammation rate).

He did he test. When it came back, he was shocked. The CRP revealed I was celiac and my body’s inflammation rate was at 20%. The doctor said he couldn’t tell me where the inflammation was occurring, but I knew it had to be the celiac issues. Had to be.

Deeper research by me revealed neuropathy can be a symptom. Aha!

I searched for and found a local Functional Medicine (FM) doctor. The results: I’m definitely celiac, with a laundry list of allergen foods. From worst to least: tomato, vanilla, pork, hazelnut, pineapple, cauliflower, coffee, Cashew, casein, cow’s milk, blueberry, lemon, salmon, cola nut, peanut, pecan, sesame, paprika, garlic, kidney bean, green pepper, peas, orange, pear, raspberry, Red #3, cod, and flounder.

Additionally, I had a leaky gut. That means I had minute cracks in my digestive trac where food could slip between the thin layered cells and into my system—where it didn’t belong.

No wonder I had a 20% inflammation rate. Through more research, I discovered that cholesterol levels are attached to inflammation levels, confirmed by my FM. I’ve always had a bit higher than normal cholesterol number since the ’90s but nothing ever so outrageous that I needed statins. A few doctors tried to write a prescription, but I wasn’t buying into the sale. I never took them.

As a result of my work with the FM, we got my inflammation down to 4%, I lost about 15 pounds by eliminating foods my body couldn’t process, and all my aches and pains went away. ALL. OF. THEM.

My overarching goal was and still is to NOT go down the taking of regular prescription path, especially long-term. Back to Behind the Scenes original story…

Typically, I’m a solitary creative. I need large amounts of alone time. I enjoy my home: surrounded by books, favorite movies, and the quiet. I’m not interested in travel anymore, not when I was spending more time in the airport than I was in the air.

At this stage of my life, I’m content with pets of rocks and one lone pot of snake plants. Gotta have something that breaths in my carbon dioxide, right?

Whenever able, I enjoy opening the windows and door to hear the birds, rustles of leaves, or the rain. I’m such a pluviophile.

At the beginning of Covid-19, I didn’t have a problem. The only thing that changed in my life was no longer having Monday lunch at a favorite watering hole with a special group of friends, not having writing weekend write-ins or monthly meetings, and getting a regular haircut. I was okay, too, for a while in not going out to eat by myself, something I did a lot—several times a week—always taking a book with me; it was my reading time.

A couple months into the stay-at-home order, something snapped. I needed different.

I started eating bread. Every day. For two months. I was using drive-thru for that acquired difference.

I knew better but ignored that pesky ahem from my little inner voice.

For a few weeks of that first binge month, nothing happened. I thought: Maybe I’m not celiac after all.Yeah right, my pragmatic self criticized.

I continued eating bread.

And, I wasn’t writing. I was tired. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt overwhelmed every time I tried to sit at the desk. Even reading became difficult.

Then, I noticed my feet swelling at night. Tight, itchy skin, with toes looking like little sausages poking out from a swollen foot where I could no longer identify bones. An over the counter, no-name antihistamine took care of the swelling easily enough.

I continued eating bread. I gained back the weight I had lost.

A few more weeks passed. My body started talking to its many parts:

She’s not paying attention.

Yes, she did. She’s taking an antihistamine.

But that has to stop!

Then, we’ll have to do something that will get her attention.

I broke into hives in the middle of the night, waking up to a feverish scratching. There were hives were between my thighs and groin. At first, I attribute the hives to having worn underwear washed in a perfumed and dyed detergent. A mistake I had made and thought I had corrected. I was still taking the no-name brand with seemingly no difference. That was Wednesday.

By Friday, the hives extended down my thighs, behind my knees, on half my back, and huge hard ones on my scalp. Everywhere.

I stopped eating bread.

I went to the store and got the name brand Benadryl. That’ll do it, I thought.

That Monday, a week ago, I awoke with a swollen face and one eye nearly shut. A doctor’s visit where they fit me in that day (apparently to make sure it didn’t affect my throat or breathing—it can get that bad? Yikes!) resulted in a prescription for steroids. My FNP agreed with me: Yup, I had been incredibly stupid. No way could I claim ignorance.

It’s Monday again. In two days after starting the steroids, the hives disappeared. I’ve lost a solid four pounds from not eating any bread or gluten foods, eliminating all allergen foods, dairy, and soda.

I’ve been good, well, with the exception of a couple diet sodas the last couple days, which have proven again to be the wrong direction. More importantly, I feel much better. My energy is back. I’m sleeping good again—until I had those two sodas! The fog is gone. Mostly importantly, all pains and aches are gone. Again.

And, I’m back writing full-steam again. With renewed vigor and focus.

I now know that I can NEVER EVER eat gluten, dairy, or any of my allergen foods again. Or sodas as much as I hate to say it. I would much rather treat the cause and avoid all symptoms than indulge and forever be treating the symptoms.

I much prefer this Behind the Scenes writer than the one I had become. She was a sad story.

I should have taken a picture as a reminder for future temptations.


About Diana Stout

Screenwriter, author, former English professor
This entry was posted in Writing Behind the Scenes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Gluten Glutton

  1. Tracy says:

    Hi Diana:

    The mind-food connection is something I’ve noticed myself, over and over (unfortunately). I’ve also posted about it before. Unfortunately, I find that the restrictive diet (I find a ketogenic diet is the best for me) that helps me write well, and stay clear in my thoughts, is difficult to keep up long term because in times of stress it’s a lot easier to ditch the discipline “just this once”.

    And the lockdown IS stressful — even for those of us who work from home, the stress creeps in via social feeds and news feeds, and piles up until something crunchy and “illegal” sounds like a really good idea.

    Glad to hear you’ve self-corrected without too many issues.

    I’m going to have to do that myself very soon. I’m also on a binge at the moment, and while the pecan pie tastes fabulous, my worry over the long term consquences doesn’t taste good at all.



    • Diana Stout says:

      Hi Tracy – Sorry to hear that you suffer from the same struggles. Finding that balance IS hard. I’ve found that if I can take favorite recipes and make adequate substitutes while still have good tasting food, I’m happier about the loss of many fun foods. I have discovered Barilla makes acceptable tasting gluten-free pasta, a Country Croc almond butter, and Betty Crocker makes a rockin’ gluten-free Brownie mix!. Thankfully I can eat eggs and potatoes., too. Also, I make overnight salads so I don’t have to plan ahead so much all the time. Good luck with your food journey! Diana


  2. I’ve done this twice now. I was going to hit ‘like’, but I thought it inappropriate. Glad you’re feeling better. Miss seeing you and the rest of MMRWA. Would you be interested in giving yoor opinion on a line-edited, paranormal romance novel? Let me know your rates and if your interested. I’m done with self-publishing. So I need to know if this will fit any traditional market–with distribution.

    Rohn Federbush,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I started reading your post because of the trope, ‘but in chair.’ Stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

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