Special Diets on May 18, 2010 by

A Gluten Free Journey

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, I asked our tour guide, Christie Coykendall to share with you how she discovered that she needed to be gluten free. Here is her story.

Christie (in red) gives daily tours of our manufacturing facility.

Christie (in red) gives daily tours of our manufacturing facility.

I thought I was suffering from menopause for TEN YEARS! I just couldn’t get my old energy back.  It seemed like the month I turned 50 I had gained 20 pounds and couldn’t get it off. My immune system was so low I’d catch every cold that blew into the neighborhood. I remember crying one day because I felt so awful, thinking there must be something really wrong with me because I was eating all those high powered vitamins and buying all those super energy tonics and I still felt sooo tired all the time.

I’m naturally an outgoing, friendly person but as soon as the door closed behind the outside world I’d collapse on the couch and sink into despair. Deep inside what I really feared was the inability to focus my thoughts.  I’d be talking to my son and point to the refrigerator but say, “Put it in the stove,” or something else equally disjointed.  I had to stop reading books because I just couldn’t remember what one page had said by the time I turned it over. I remember thinking frequently how nice it would be to die and be able to just rest.  Then one day a sympathetic clerk in a health food store suggested trying a wheat free diet.  I read up on the gluten-free lifestyle and thought about it for a few weeks.  I didn’t have the typical digestive symptoms but as she said, “Why not just try it.”  I faithfully read every label and didn’t cheat at all.  I remember so clearly that first week-end, I woke-up feeling alive.  It was amazing!

I’ve been on a fairly strict gluten-free diet for two and half years now.  I learned I’m a second-day processor so if I eat something with wheat I get a “gluten hangover’ the next day, feeling tired, groggy and depressed all over again. I lost 25 pounds the first year without even thinking about it.  Four months after I went GF I got a part-time job at Bob’s Red Mill giving the daily factory tours.  It’s a high energy job that I love and I’m proud to say I haven’t had one sick day since I started.  Now I get to share my story every day and encourage others to ‘just try it.’

My favorite BRM product? I love the versatility of the new GF Vanilla Cake Mix. Strawberry shortcake season is coming up and I’m tasting it already!


Mary says:

You’ve given me a lot to think about. Our Naturopath had suggested we reduce (or eliminate) our gluten intake a few years ago, but I know I haven’t done enough. I have so many other food sensitivities, as well as diabetes, so one more “can’t have” seemed overwhelming.

But, I think the time has come to make a more concerted effort.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Hannah says:

Hey I am 17 years old and have been diagnosed a whole year ago. I started finding cheats like in corn and milk. I don’t like cheating and it hasn’t been good for my health. Do have any suggestions how I could be compelled to cook my own food when I am so busy in my life? Thank you so much for posting your story I don’t look at what I can’t have anymore. My little sister was just diagnosed and I am trying to help her. Any ideas How you can help me? any ideas would help…


One tip that may help is to create simple meals in large batches over the weekend. Think rice, stir fried veggies and meat (or beans). Other great options include cold grain salads (lots of recipes on our website) and soups. Package them up in meal-size containers for quick meal options on week days. Unfortunately, part of living gluten free will be cooking from scratch more often. At home, we make a big batch of brown rice on the weekend and then use it several different ways through the week. That helps save time and gives me somewhere to start. I also recommend checking out Vanessa Maltin’s page: Celiac Princess She was diagnosed fairly young and has a lot of great recipes that are easy to make.

Christie says:

Hi Mary and Hannah, Thanks for your response. One of the things that makes being on a gluten free diet easier for me is focusing on the ‘can haves’ instead of the can’ts. I stock my pantry with good ingredients which lets me get creative. A tip my mother taught me years ago was to never leave the house in the morning until you knew what you were having for dinner that night. That way you can make a quick dash into the grocery store on the way home if needed. AND I absolutely must have my snack drawer loaded up. I keep protein bars in the car and goodies in my desk at work. When I’m hungry there is a much greater chance that I’ll cheat. There is so much more to life than food and I’ve simply made up my mind to do whatever I can to feel well.

Laura says:

After advice from my nutritionist, I stopped letting the FDA define what contained “gluten” and checked out what gluten actually was. I am completely grain free now, as all grains contain various forms of “gluten” proteins. This includes corn and rice. If you find that “gluten-free” products aren’t really helping, consider going completely grain free for 2 weeks and see how you feel.

Steve says:

Hi guys,

There are new studies coming out on gluten sensitivities that seem to indicate that if you’re wheat gluten sensitive, you may also be sensitive to the gluten in corn and rice as it was in my case.

No matter how gluten free I went, I could never get back to normal, I was exhausted all the time, brain fog, couldnt focus on what the person in front of me was saying.

So I decided to go true gluten free, which included rice and corn elimination.. what a difference.

A lot (if not all) of the gluten free products you see on shelves use corn and/or rice as alternatives so if you know you’re already GF sensitive but feel you’re not getting back to normal, try eliminating the other glutens found in rice and corn.

Best of luck and thanks for the article, I love the term Gluten hangover, will use it from no on 🙂

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