How I Learned to Live Healthy - A story about living with Celiac and Microscopic Colitis
By Jennifer Lindberg
Well, I must admit that I reluctantly walked down the road to health and wellness. I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2005 and immediately quit eating the “un-fab four” grains: wheat, rye, barley and oats. My skin rashes cleared up, my once thinning hair became thicker and my skin looked better. All was well in my book. Let’s keep the party going. Or so I thought.
Within a couple of years I felt sluggish, achy, suffered from anxiety and had horrible eczema on my hands and other various body parts. My hands were so bad at the time that I looked like I had leprosy. I chalked it up to stress or a hard day’s work. Food didn’t enter my realm of thought because after all, I had already fixed that issue.
So, I continued living with the these symptoms for about 6 years. The symptoms would come and go. When I was asymptomatic I assumed I wasn’t stressed out anymore. (Yes… I still thought it was stress related).
A Second Diagnosis
Finally, about a year ago my symptoms culminated into bouts of serious anxiety, eczema, abdominal cramping and inflammation, diarrhea, headaches and fatigue. I slowly began to eliminate food groups from my diet. I started with refined sugar and processed food groups (they ARE food groups, right?). That didn’t do the trick.
Next, I eliminated all soy and diary products. I still could not get rid of the symptoms. I finally eliminated all grain and started eating whole foods, and started what is known as an autoimmune paleo diet. Oh my!
I slowly started to feel and see an improvement, but still had some lingering issues. So, while starting this diet I also started seeing a naturopath and a GI doctor. I needed to find out what long-term damage I may have caused and my husband and I just really like to spend money on medical expenses…. NOT.
The naturopath confirmed major abdominal inflammation and some malabsorption. The GI doctor found that my bone density was normal (probably due to weight lifting), that I did have Celiac (originally several years ago I was informally diagnosed by a dermatologist) and I had a secondary issue perhaps caused by the unmanaged Celiac. It is called lymphocytic colitis (microscopic inflammation of the colon).
The Healing Process
Fortunately my condition can be healed or put into remission by eating the proper diet. Both the naturopath and GI doctor recommended that I stay on the autoimmune paleo diet until I feel stable enough to incorporate eggs and nuts. I was impressed, and slightly surprised, that the GI doctor lauded my dietary efforts! I have been on the autoimmune paleo diet for about six months. If I had to estimate my progress, I would say I am about 80% better than I was before starting the diet.
I still deal with fatigue but that may be due to overworked adrenal glands (for which I am taking a supplement). I also take an omega supplement, magnesium and vitamin D. I will eventually incorporate a vitamin A, E and maybe a probiotic. These are the vitamins and minerals that I was deficient in according to my blood tests.
My New Diet
Here is the basic diet that is healing my intestines:
- • Fruits and vegetables – organic when possible but not always
- • Grass fed beef
- • Hormone/antibiotic free poultry.
- • Uncured bacon (every morning!)
- • Coconut smoothies – preservative free coconut milk and water, blueberries, banana, ice
- • Baked squash and apples with olive oil and maybe cinnamon and a bit of honey
- • Sautéed chicken breast with olive oil, spinach and sea salt
- • Cooked ground turkey with olive oil, carrots, onions, sea salt and other dried herbs.
- • Grass fed ground beef or turkey meatballs with sweet potato fries
- • Raw spinach salad with organic black olives, avocado, olive oil, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.
- • Preservative free dates mixed in with unsweetened organic coconut flakes.
These meals take more time to plan and prep but I feel so much better and it is worth it. It has become a very normal part of my daily routine. If I worked full time I would have to do more food prepping on the weekends, but I only work about ten hours per week and home school our oldest child about 15 hours per week.
When we are home during the day and my son is working on a school lesson I do my meal prepping then. I also try to get 8 hours of sleep a night and exercise almost every day. My wonderful sister, and founder of Araza, has written me 4 different 30-minute exercise routines that will keep me in shape but won’t kill me. Let’s face it… the Olympics are a thing of the past for me.
So, my entire family has adjusted to Jen’s new diet and lifestyle. And you know what? It is contagious. When people see how healthy I have become they want in on the action. All of a sudden they are paying much closer attention to what they eat and how it makes them feel.
Since changing the way I eat and being careful of what I put into my body, it soon only made sense for me to change what I put on my body. Your skin absorbs most everything you put on it. I began scouring through my bathroom cupboards and tossing out all of my old chemical ladened make-up and beauty products. I am so fortunate to have a sister with similar vision of health and wellness. It is great to have a product (Araza Natural Beauty) that is high-quality, gluten-free/preservative free and paleo friendly; just like the foods I eat. Not to mention, my skin never breaks out anymore.
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I also have lymphocytic microscopic colitis. I don’t know if I have celiac or not because last year when I had the colonoscopy in the hospital (I was so sick with the first ever symptoms of LC that I was admitted from the ER) the GI doctor didn’t test me for celiac and I don’t understand why not. I don’t eat wheat or any grains except rice and occasionally oats (Cheerios), no dairy, no high fat anything and no sugar, even fruit.
But I’m reading what you ate… how could you tolerate raw spinach salad?
I’m going to be seeing a functional medicine doctor soon and hope she can help me.
I hope you’re still doing well.
Hi there…this sounds crazy but I want to share my story with you. I am waiting on biopsy results from colonoscopy. But at this point they are looking at microscopic colitis. I have had a number of autoimmune issues over the years and they all seem to be connected: papillary thyroid CA, lactose intolerance, celiac, 1/3 of my colon removed due to some issues, eczema and now this GI issue. Everything is under control except the last issue but so far this is what I am thinking with all of my research awaiting biopsy results of course: my eczema started this year in the winter and I had never had it before and then it sort of went away as the temperatures got warmer but then ended up with many months of colitis (although I did not know what was happening…just could not stop going to the bathroom). What I read was that with ezema and colitis your body is producing an abundance of “mast cells” causing your body to produce excess histamine. Somewhere I read that someone took an allergy medication and saw a dramatic improvement in symptoms. So after my colonoscopy I thought I would try taking my Zyrtec on a regular basis (not just in the Fall). It has been 4 days since the colonoscopy and I have been taking Zyrtec. I am nearly 90% better and my frequency of bowel movements have dropped to nearly normal…once or twice a day. I told a Nurse Practitioner about this and she agreed I was on to something. I know for me I do not want to take a steroid every time this occurs. I want to prevent it. I also eat very clean in my opinion and workout regularly (probably more than most). So I want to feel good. I thought also this was stress related…and no doubt it may trigger flare ups I am guessing, but I also think that for me this Zyrtec may be my answer, along with a clean, organic balanced diet. Please feel free to message me. We are probably our best advocates in situations like this. I do believe all my issues are autoimmune related.
The majority of our food is poison! $$$$