One major issue I had in high school was I had trouble staying awake through the 3rd and 6th periods. I just couldn’t stay awake in those classes, no matter what I did. I chalked it up to a warm room for one class, but then it happened in a cold room later. Then I thought it was due to the fact that I could never fall asleep at night. It kept happening and became more frequent the older I got. Looking back now, I realize it was my diet, especially a gluten-filled diet.
I would eat a gluten bagel with cream cheese every morning when I got to school around 7 am. By third period, around 10 or 10:30 if it wasn’t an interactive class, I was out like a light. Lunch would be either 4th or 5th period where I would probably eat either a sandwich, pizza, sometimes a salad, mozzarella sticks, macaroni and cheese or french fries, along with a cookie or other little dessert treat. I loved those Little Debbie snacks. (I think they changed their recipe or supplier because the last one I ate before going gluten-free tasted like a mealy, cardboard cake covered in plastic, so I figure I’m not really missing out.)
Then 6th period would come, sometimes it would be 7th period, depending on what the class was and if it was interactive. If a teacher spent the time lecturing, I was out like a light, no matter how animated they were. My 9th grade history teacher was especially good at telling historical stories and knocking me out. I was incredibly embarrassed every time I fell asleep in their classes, I apologized if they caught me or if it happened two days in a row.
I’ve had interesting things happen while falling asleep in class. Once I dreamt that I slipped on ice and almost fell out of my desk. Another time my teacher dropped the heavy, metal trash can right next to my seat to wake me up. I about jumped out of my skin! These types of events had the entire class laughing. I felt like I was hugely disrespecting my teachers by falling asleep, it was through no fault of their own. I wanted to stay awake and I tried very hard.
I took a ton of notes to try to stay awake. Sometimes my sentences would taper off into squiggly lines in my notebook because I had fallen asleep while writing. Because it was happening so frequently, I began to buy a Coke and a bag of M&M’s, Twizzlers, or another type of quiet candy or snack to munch on while I was in those classes thinking the chewing motion and sugar would help me stay awake. Sometimes it worked but I usually ended up with a belly ache and headache afterwards, then crashing for a nap after I got home.
Me in 2003, the year before I graduated college. Posing to hide the pudge.
It happened in college, also. I ate a semi-healthy diet after my junior/senior year of high school because I gained weight both years, seemingly out of no where. After I lost a bunch of weight, my mother told me her and my father wondered if I was pregnant because I had gained so much. I couldn’t believe they would say that! Now I know it was because I looked pregnant with my gluten-baby belly. Though I am surprised she would wait until after I lost the weight to mention that.
STRESS & GLUTEN
Looking back, it was all due to gluten and stress. My weight fluctuations always came after dealing with a stressful situation. I would eat to compensate for being overly stressed or pressured. It came from all angles. I loved pizza and comfort foods, ice cream and cookies. All the things my stomach can’t handle now. I was most likely always lactose and gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive and we believe that when I had radioactive iodine treatment for my thyroid that the celiac disease was triggered. It’s been a hell of a roller coaster ride to get to this point, but I’m here, still rolling on.
These are only a few of the symptoms I experienced as a teenager and young adult with gluten and lactose intolerance. If you or your child is experiencing similar issues with staying awake, alert or paying attention, it would be a good idea to get checked for food sensitivities or intolerances. Trust me, eliminating those foods will make paying attention and staying awake so much easier.
In my first post about staying hydrated with celiac disease, I wrote a post on Celiac and Water Absorption explaining that I was drinking Body Armor drinks and taking Smarty Pants multi-vitamins among a slew of others, to stay hydrated and healthy. At my last appointment the doc told me to cut out all the extra vitamins for two weeks because my B-6 and B-12 levels were very high. I felt like my nerves were fried and my muscles were tight and on edge. I guess you can overdose on B-vitamins. I cut out the vitamins and drinks on 5/5/16 and after about 3 weeks off all the vitamins and 2 weeks off fish oil/DHA, I was tired but much less wired.
After two weeks of eating my regular diet, cutting out the Body Armor drinks and not taking supplements, I was exhausted and my joints were burning again. My upper and lower back hurt but the pinching between my shoulder blades receded a bit. I added back in one fish oil pill a day before lunch or dinner, whenever I remembered to take it and after about a week the upper back pain settled down more and the joint pain started to decrease. I tried a few gummy vitamins and the upper back pain came back, but that could also have been due to being on crutches. As my back, chest and core strengthen from the crutching, it gets less painful.
After about 3 weeks I added back in half the dosage of the Smarty Pants gummy vitamins and I think I’m doing good. My body needs something extra, I can’t eat enough foods to get the nutrients I need. My stomach does not process the food or absorb it well. I’ve switched to water and regular fruit juices and cut out the Body Armor drinks for now. I cycled through OJ, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice and apple juice. I’m loving the OJ and am so happy I can handle orange again! I really missed the juicy sweetness of oranges. The cranberry juice is also helping, though I’m not as into the grapefruit or apple as much. I drank all the grapefruit but there’s just something about the apple that I’m not digging so much.
It’s been about a month and a half now and I’m feeling ok. My thyroid levels are getting back in order and I’m starting to balance out. My body is still going through the processes it does after giving birth and having a baby. Even though the baby isn’t here, my body is still going through the cycle of having a newborn, including sleepless nights and all, less the dirty diapers. My cycle is off which could be due to the pregnancy, surgery, celiac, stress or a combination of all. My intestines feel like they opened up, not as tight as they once were. It’s making me nervous though, wondering if it’s a new type of pain or if it’s just the absence of pain. I’ve been very bloated this week and haven’t been for quite some time. There has been much stress over the past weeks/months, so that could be why.
Staying Hydrated with Celiac Disease is Difficult
I stopped drinking the Body Armor drinks and am drinking water and fruit juices instead. Staying hydrated is difficult, especially since it’s dry in Cali. My skin doesn’t feel as dry as it was, but it’s still pretty dry. I added fruit juices and fruits to help. I also use olive oil on my skin to hopefully save me from alligator skin later. The only thing with fruit juices is that they’re sweet, and sugar isn’t really doing much for me these days. My upper intestinal area blows up like a balloon when I eat sugars which is no fun and quite painful. I stopped the fish oil again because it gives me terrible gas. Next I’ll figure out if it’s the capsule or the oil itself that’s the culprit, but I have to add it back in because it really does help with all the inflammation.
All in all, at the moment I feel partly better not being on so many supplements. My body feels calmer, my nerves don’t jump as much and my muscles don’t ache as badly. They still ache and I’m more inflamed than usual, but it’s not as bad as it was before. I like the Body Armor drinks but haven’t had one in a while as I’m now worried about getting too many vitamins. I have to try one again and see how it makes me feel. They are very tasty drinks. In a couple weeks I get another blood test to check my thyroid and vitamin levels and will see where I stand. I’ll let you know how it goes!