I've gone gluten-free. Why don't I feel better yet?
Feeling rotten? Doing everything you've been told about keeping strictly gluten-free?
When you're diagnosed coeliac and you've gone onto a gluten-free diet, it can be easy to think,
"I should be feeling better by now!"
And you should. There just isn't a specific time frame.
Annoying, I know. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were like paint?
"Quick-drying coeliac disease will be safe in 24 hours. No odours."
The fact is, coeliac disease presents itself differently in many of us and while some people feel better almost as soon as they stop swallowing gluten, others can take months (and - in rare cases - years).
The frustrating thing is feeling like there's not much you can do about it. But there are 3 things I'd advise here:
Firstly, make sure you really aren't swallowing any gluten. This means checking labels, definitely no cheat days, making your kitchen coeliac-safe (like avoiding sharing utensils, the toaster & fryers) and not buying any products with a 'may contain'. You can read more about 'may contains' here.
Secondly, if you can possibly find something to take your mind off things, it'll be a good diversion. Years ago, amidst a tough time in my life, Desperate Housewives first aired and I found myself utterly hooked. For one hour a week I watched avidly, unable to think of anything else. And although it was only an hour, even just looking forward to it helped. Whether it's a box set, a great book or some gentle yoga, I really recommend finding something to distract you.
Thirdly, difficult as it might be, you need to trust the process. Think of it like this: imagine your insides are like a broken leg. Once diagnosed, the leg doesn't magically sort itself out the next day. It needs time to repair itself. Some people recover more quickly than others and some people feel better before they're actually fully recovered. You just have to persevere.
Finally, we all have different symptoms and time-frames so please don't compare your journey with other people's. Tempting as it might be to go online and ask other coeliacs how long it took them to recover, their stories aren't necessarily like yours. If it helps, there'll always be someone who recovers less quickly than you - you're not the pork chop on the barbecue.
So as long as you're sticking to the gluten-free diet strictly (no cheat days, no cross-contact with gluten) then you'll get better. You just have to have faith...and possibly a great series on Netflix.