Gluten Free Me & PND: Food and Mood

gluten-free-1218048Last year, before I was diagnosed with PND I saw a Dr. who suggested I might need to try the Paleo or Caveman diet.

She thought, perhaps, that it could help with some of my weird and horrible symptoms: “panic attacks, tremors, shaking, muscle twitches and spasms, aches and pains, headaches, insomnia, dizziness, heart palpitations, sweating, tingling and numbness, no appetite…” 

So, along with another list of tests, that was one of her options for me. The tests I said yes to, the diet change, I didn’t.

I guess I had two main reasons – firstly, I didn’t really think that my issue and secondly, we were heading to Italy the following week – how was I going to manage a new diet regime there?! I also had no head space for anything new, that actually required me to concentrate. Some days it was all I could do to get any sort of food passed my mouth. So I didn’t do it the diet…

On returning from Italy, two weeks later, I was diagnosed with severe PND and put onto a course of treatment which has really worked for me. Within about 4 months, many of those symptoms were gone, or significantly reduced, and I started to understand how they could be related to my illness.

So most of my symptoms went, except those I have had for a long time. With a clearer head I was able to reason that with myself.  I eat quite a healthy diet – brown breads, whole grain cereals etc being a big part of my every day intake. But, I remember the Dr. explaining to me that, even though they are ‘healthy’, if I have a digestive problem they could be the trigger. So much for talking good care of myself!

pair-624071_1920Sorry if this is TMI but incase it helps someone – PND symptoms gave me awful bowel/stomach – I could barely eat some days without running to the toilet, and food would come up or out, too easily. I would often wake in the night and experience hours of diarrhoea. My whole body would tingle, especially my legs and bum, when I needed to use the bathroom. As I have been recovering these things have passed. When I have a set back or  a few ‘bad days’, they might raise their head a little, but leave again as I settle. So I know they are PND related.

What didn’t leave, however, was this – awful, disgusting bowel movements as soon as I would eat breakfast (cereal) or lunch (bread products), with the feeling like food didn’t even get the time to stay in my system. Constant sore, windy or gassing tummy. Swelling or bloating after certain types of meals. Sore mouth when I eat certain types of foods.

It’s not the first time I have noticed health links with what I eat – as I child I couldn’t eat certain foods as I got horrendous mouth ulcers, which meant for days I could only eat instant whip with a straw! Mum and Dad soon stopped buying whatever it was that annoyed me, once they worked it out. I gave up white bread in my twenties as my tummy would bloat so much my jeans would struggle to close!!

So about 6 weeks ago now, I decided to try gluten free. I reasoned that it might not be that ‘big’ a deal, as I eat quite a set diet anyway. I know that once I am in a routine with something, I am normally ok.

bread-1319583_1920So here’s the main changes – I only eat gluten free cereal and buy gluten free bread. I no longer really eat bread that much (oh how I miss hot buttered toast, GF bread doesn’t really cut it!). I buy GF pasta, avoid gravy (unless GF) and lots of processed/tinned foods. I keep eating lots of salads, fruit, veg, potatoes, rice.

In truth, it hasn’t been that hard, I had built it up to worse, I think. Even eating out has been ok. I just try to be as careful as possible but I know gluten won’t ‘harm’ me, so I don’t stress too much about it, if there are not many GF options on the menu.

13323167_10153639524981463_8216136478503784029_oThere has also been some fun it in  – Reuben and I made GF pancakes and scones, which are lovely. And the best news? Wine is GF, so I’m safe with that treat… Phew!

So what’s the result? Well, I’ve noticed a big difference in my tummy issues – which only re-emerge if I eat something I ‘shouldn’t’. Once that’s out of my system, I’m back to ok! I love the new feeling and wish I had tried it sooner.

But not only for the physical reasons – I do notice emotional/mental benefits too. I don’t have as many ‘lows’ – I would quite often have had what seemed like ‘low blood sugar’ which made me shaky, hungry, emotional and panicky. Those are few and far between now – except for the hormonal aspect, those still come!! But over all I just feel the better for it. I also feel less drained. I am still exhausted with PND/medication, as I have been these last few months, and I battle that daily, but this is a different type of drained.  I’m not sure how to explain it, but I do think it has had an effect on general energy, which, of course, helps with mood swings and positive feelings!

I’m also so pleased with myself that I have managed to do it – I feel like I have taken control over something important in my life and, unlike with PND, I have not allowed it to consume me. I can see how far my recovery has come – I now do have the head space to make considered decisions and pick what I want to do for me. I lost so much of that, in the worst of my PND, so finally some normality is returning.

I am in no way suggesting that GF, alone, is the way forward in recovering from PND. Not at all. I hope I’ve cleared that up above. I’m not ready to give up medication yet and just because GF works for this aspect of my life, does not mean it would have ‘cured’ my PND. But just like the natural and herbal remedies I have used, I think this also has its place – for me at least. So I’m going to continue with it…

I shop in Asda, and my local stores has an ok range of GF but I would love to see more.  And of course, I wish it wasn’t so expensive!

button-1398594Do you have any tips, recipes or brands you love to buy or avoid on a GF diet? I’m still learning, so would love to know.

Do you feel GF (or any other diet) helps your mood? Get in touch, if you would like to share that as a blog post.

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