How do I learn if I have gluten/casein problems?

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SilverShoelaces
Snowy Owl
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26 Apr 2011, 12:27 am

I've always been a picky eater and a rather unhealthy kid. I never ate anything I wasn't allowed to eat at home, but I did avoid things I didn't like, like meat, avocado, and unrefined grains. (What can I say? I was a weird kid.)

Then I went to boarding school in another state in high school. The environment was very different, as was my sleep schedule, and my diet drastically changed. It was less humid, a warmer climate, and I woke up at 7:30 each morning instead of 5:00. I managed to get an average of 8 hours of sleep a night (not including weekends) rather than my previous 6. And because of the way the dining hall was set up (as well as a test that told me I had high cholesterol), I ate a lot less dairy. The school didn't serve whole grains very often, so I cut out most of my wheat, too. I never liked meat, so I eradicated that completely. And not to leave anything out--I saw more sunlight, as I didn't have to get to school before sunrise anymore and every classroom had windows. I got more exercise walking to class and walking between classroom buildings, and back across campus every time I wanted to get to the dining hall or back. Mandatory sports meant I exercised. And I was certainly happier with my new friends...once I had "acquired" them, of course.

But the most important thing was that I was healthier than I had ever been before.

I figured it was something to do with me growing up and not having the constitution of a child, but life had to prove me wrong. I returned to my hometown for college and the problems came tumbling back. I have also reverted to most of my old habits as far as diet and exercise go. At first (a year ago), I figured it was because of my anaemia, but whenever I ate meat (but not fish, which I happen to like) I just got sicker. I have also cut fried foods out of my diet, and there was an immediate change then, but I am still not feeling quite as healthy as I did in high school.

Are there too many variables to consider a problem with gluten or casein? I would be perfectly happy to eliminate cow cheese if I can still eat goat cheese (which I generally find to be tastier anyway), but I don't want to just take it out if it's not causing any issues. I know it's not stress-related, because college is a lot easier than high school was; I'm only taking 8 classes a semester instead of 12 a trimester. And if I do have to eliminate gluten, how do I get my protein?

Another thing that concerns me: googling the problem leads me to sites that discuss autists getting high off opiates derived from casein and gluten. I remember distinctly drinking tons of milk as a kid (my brother and I would finish at least a gallon every two or so days at home, and I always got extra milk at lunch in school because I loved the stuff), and I have also come across really old journal entries on my computer from odd periods in my life when I speculated whether or not I was on a constant high and that was why I didn't want to do drugs.... Of course, having no idea or personal experience in what taking that sort of drug makes one feel, my perspective is clearly skewed, but I do clearly remember inexplicably elevated feelings of happiness and of sluggishness for hours and sometimes weeks at a time. I often found myself drifting...and it was during one of those periods that I was diagnosed with ADHD and referred for NVLD. My parents are trying to avoid getting me tested for ASD, presumably because the symptoms will go away if I don't know about it, so until then, I don't even know for sure whether or not I have any sort of ASD, let alone related complications. But I have always had the symptoms, and they seem to have come in waves for me.

I have a lot of questions because I just learned that the gluten/casein issues exist two days ago. I hope my explanation was not too long-winded.



Moog
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26 Apr 2011, 6:12 am

Remove gluten and casein from your diet for a while, and see if you perceive any effect. Then perhaps try adding one or other back in, and seeing how that goes.


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blueroses
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26 Apr 2011, 11:15 am

I agree with you that there are a lot of variables here, but I don't think that means that you shouldn't explore all your options and try to come up with the best game plan to take care of your health. For people who do have problems with gluten or casein, it can play a big role in overall wellbeing, so it could be worth checking out.

I'm not sure if you realize this or not, but problems with gluten can come in more than one form. For gluten intolerance, you should do just as Moog said and try an elimination diet for a while, then reintroduce it and see how you feel. (I would follow the elimination diet for at least six weeks or so). To be tested for Celiac's, you'll need to see a doctor and have actual blood tests done, though.



Jojoba
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26 Apr 2011, 11:43 am

I know what you mean about avoiding foods, and wondering if benefit is coming from it. It is not easy to take a common food out of the diet. It's difficult to tell if you feel better since it takes time to feel the effects. What helped me was writing a food journal, recording how I felt. Over time I was able to see that avoiding wheat gluten and milk products made me healthier.

Along the same lines, saw this article about the benefits some are seeing from avoiding these main, common offenders.

"Looking Beyond a Gluten-Free Diet"

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/04/2 ... free-diet/

Snippet of the article:

Quote:
For years parents and physicians have been examining the benefits of a gluten-free, casein-free diet for children with autism.
Many report great success with such restrictions. Now, parents and doctors of children with special needs are looking beyond these diets to check food labels for dyes, additives and sugar content.
The concept of monitoring synthetic food additives first gained popularity among parents of children with ADHD, but now parents of children with autism are examining the benefits of eliminating these artificial flavors, dyes and sugar from their children's diets. The goal of eliminating these elements is to reduce inappropriate self-stimulatory behaviors and increase focus. Parents and teachers are reporting success.
"I saw a change within 24 hours. This student was laughing uncontrollably, all the time, and within the first day he was quieter and more focused," one teacher shared.


Good luck!



SilverShoelaces
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27 Apr 2011, 10:28 pm

Jojoba wrote:
I know what you mean about avoiding foods, and wondering if benefit is coming from it. It is not easy to take a common food out of the diet. It's difficult to tell if you feel better since it takes time to feel the effects. What helped me was writing a food journal, recording how I felt. Over time I was able to see that avoiding wheat gluten and milk products made me healthier.

Along the same lines, saw this article about the benefits some are seeing from avoiding these main, common offenders.

"Looking Beyond a Gluten-Free Diet"

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/04/2 ... free-diet/

Snippet of the article:

Quote:
For years parents and physicians have been examining the benefits of a gluten-free, casein-free diet for children with autism.
Many report great success with such restrictions. Now, parents and doctors of children with special needs are looking beyond these diets to check food labels for dyes, additives and sugar content.
The concept of monitoring synthetic food additives first gained popularity among parents of children with ADHD, but now parents of children with autism are examining the benefits of eliminating these artificial flavors, dyes and sugar from their children's diets. The goal of eliminating these elements is to reduce inappropriate self-stimulatory behaviors and increase focus. Parents and teachers are reporting success.
"I saw a change within 24 hours. This student was laughing uncontrollably, all the time, and within the first day he was quieter and more focused," one teacher shared.


Good luck!


Ew, I don't want to eliminate artificial dyes and sugars. That's a lot of work, and corn syrup is my friend. >_< But my health is important to me, so I guess I'll have to do it eventually....

I'm going to try to eliminate a few other variables before I start taking out any foods. I stopped biking once I got to college, and though I lived on the eighth floor last year, at least I made the effort to take the stairs all the time. Now I always take the elevator, all my classes are in one building so I don't walk around much, and I'm taking seven to nine classes a semester (at around 18 credits on average), so stress and lack of sleep can be a factor. So I'll exercise more, relax a bit next week since finals are wrapping up now, and then try to eliminate some food groups. *sigh*

Thanks a lot to everyone who responded~ It was very helpful!