Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


May 17, 2013

Why I Ditched the Gluten Free Diet

Sorry about the click bait title but thought I would share my dirty secret that I’ve kept for the last 2 years…which in all honesty, I just couldn’t really be bothered to blog about it.  But yes I’m allowed to eat gluten again!

Why I Ditched the Gluten Free Diet?

Why I Went Gluten Free

I just want to make it very clear why I jumped on the gluten free bandwagon…I was given my medical advice via a NHS Dietician and gastroenterologist; I wasn’t self-diagnosed or told by a GP to remove gluten from my diet.

Tests were carried out as I had chronic stomach pains and when I was 32, the gastroenterologist found polyps in my colon and after trialling the FODMAP diet (If only I started a blog about FODMAP at the time, I would have made a fortune as the only information online was the initial research) they found that gluten, garlic and onions were causing a lot of my bloating and pains.

The gastroenterologist thought that by removing the gluten from my diet that it would potentially stop the polyp growth.

I was never diagnosed with Celiac disease.

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^^Gluten Free Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel, London

My Misdiagnosis

So I was misdiagnosed…over the years I visited my GP surgery with blood in my stools and severe nausea (I would get dizzy, fall out of bed, stumble around like I was drunk and it would last for weeks at a time).  

I was told by quite a few GP’s over the years that the severe nausea was due to me not cooking my food properly and a poor diet (okay I stand up and agree about the poor diet…the scone photos in this blog do not lie…I own up to that…but the smoke alarm would normally go off to indicate that dinner was well and truly cooked in our house!).

It wasn’t until I had a change of GP surgery (my old one went into liquidation…the mind boggles) that my new GP was so shocked by the level of care that I’d received and my symptoms, that she rushed me through on the 2 week cancer rule (I did have various other symptoms that you probably don’t need me to share…always check your poo ladies and gents!).

Another Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy was required and the medical staff located 14 polyps which were all removed; 6 months later I was visiting St Marks Hospital in London…when you have to google the hospital and the professors name to find out what the appointment is for…that can be pretty daunting especially as they specialised in genetic diseases.


Prior to my appointment, I had my first operation to remove the fibroids and then ended up in hospital with a colon infection (later diagnosed as diverticulitis)…as I was pretty sick (apparently I almost died…I beg to differ as I still had to walk to the canteen for food so obviously I wasn’t at deaths door)…I couldn’t have a blood transfusion as the fear was, my body would reject it…for close to week I was losing approximately a litre of blood a day.

It was at this point the Doctors and I discussed the quickest way to put iron into my diet and this is where I was told to start eating gluten again…and it wasn’t the last time I was given this medical advice!

After eating cheap white bread loaded with gluten (the cheap stuff normally has lots of vitamins added) and coco-pops, my iron levels skyrocketed…it would take up to 6 months on iron tablets to get me into the safe zone…this was done in 6 weeks by putting gluten back into my diet and taking iron tablets.


I was later diagnosed with a genetic disease called Serrated Polyposis Syndrome and advised that the previous advice that my polyps were caused by gluten was incorrect and that the severe nausea was actually a symptom of SPS.

So it meant I could eat gluten again…and by crikey I loved it!  I joined my family in Poland a few months later and was able to eat whatever I fancied and I did.  I forgot how easy it was to live without a food intolerance…I don’t think you can ever appreciate how difficult it is to live with a food intolerance until you have one.

Thankfully St Marks Hospital requested another colonoscopy 6 months after my previous one and I’m forever grateful that they did as they found an adenoma which would have turned into a cancerous tumour.

Why I Ditched the Gluten Free Diet?

Going Plant Based

Suffering from severe nausea that was becoming all the more frequent (and going to work and carrying on with my daily life), I started to research a lot more into genetic diseases, colon cancer and foods.

After quite a lot of research I decided to try a Ayurvedic cleanse that I had read about earlier in the year after a rather horrendous bout of nausea that was my worst to date…at the same time I decided to go plant based and I was rather pleasantly surprised.

The weight loss was great but it was actually not feeling like crap that really egged me on during my month long cleanse and helped me realise that what I was putting into my body was really driving many of my symptoms.

Why I Ditched the Gluten Free Diet?

^^ Vegan & Gluten Free Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula Beijing

I’ll never be 100% plant based; I work towards a 90% target and you can’t always control your surroundings…a naughty day here and there is hopefully not going to kill…but I do find that when I do partake in a cream lamington (hard to resist) or fish and chips (you can’t fake the taste of fish)…my SPS related symptoms rear their ugly head.

Why I Ditched the Gluten Free Diet?

^^Vegan platter on Waiheke Island

I also try to stick to wholemeal flours rather than a plain white flour.

While going plant based is not for everyone it has helped me no end.

Be Careful When Changing Your Diet

I know a lot of people who have removed gluten from their diet after a chat with a GP…you need to be seen by a registered Dietitian and whatever you do, please don’t self-diagnose yourself as there could be something else going on in the background causing your symptoms.

One GP thinks a lot of my previous bloating and stomach pains were diverticulitis flare ups.

Gluten Free food is full of fat and isn’t as healthy as the big corporations want you to believe.

Going plant based I knew I had to be even more careful due to my low iron so I had to find foods high in iron and to take a B12 supplement.  I was told that I was silly to go plant based as I would make myself sick…my response, I had a B12 deficiency when I ate red meat…I was up to the challenge.

Onion and Garlic were the other two items that I couldn’t eat after the FODMAP diet but since giving up meat, I can eat them without any issues.

Why I Ditched the Gluten Free Diet?

^^Vegan & Gluten Free Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s

My GP in New Zealand is happy with my dietary changes and is supportive however her advice is to take B12 supplements.  She understands that I’m high risk for colon cancer and that a plant based diet is going to cut down my risk long term…I don’t miss meat but I do miss fish.

I had another colonoscopy last year; I have these yearly like many people do that suffer from colon issues…and there was a reduction in polyps which was positive however the cells that were present were very aggressive.

I won’t lie…after the SPS diagnosis I was okay, it came out of the blue however I wasn’t surprised as I knew something was up…you know in yourself.  What caused a lot of anxiety for me was finding a adenoma that was going to change into a tumour, I was optimistic that I would be one of the lucky ones that wouldn’t be diagnosed with colon cancer…it took almost a full year to get my head around that.

And some days…I still can’t get my head around it and that’s okay.

Moral of the Story

Don’t self diagnose…if you don’t feel well, keep pushing!


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