Kylie's Diagnosis Story & Gluten-Free Chex Mix
To celebrate Celiac Awareness Month, our photographer Kylie Bressoud shares her (unconventional) diagnosis story and her favorite snack mix recipe by Mama Gourmand!
As opposed to gluten intolerance and sensitivity, Celiac is an autoimmune disease. It can develop at any age, be difficult to diagnose, and, if left untreated, lead to additional health problems.
Before we get to it, Kylie wanted to share this great recipe for DIY gluten-free, vegan check mix by Mama Gourmand. "I like this because you can entirely customize it to your own diet and taste with various snack ingredients." Follow the link for inspiration on how to customize your own party mix!
Here's Kylie's story:
My name is Kylie, and I have been the photographer at Raised Gluten Free for the past four years. With it being Celiac awareness month, I think it is important to share my (unconventional) diagnosis story.
Throughout high school, I suffered from excessive sleepiness. Idiopathic hypersomnia was the term the doctors used, which is just a fancy way of saying, “you’re tired all the time, and we don’t know why.” At my worst, I slept for 22 hours a day. I didn’t face a single day that didn’t call for a midday nap because my craving for sleep was insatiable. I was prescribed numerous stimulants that made me feel ‘wired but tired’ and never fixed the problem. Some doctors didn’t believe me at all and blamed depression instead. I missed an entire semester of school, unable to leave my bed. I thought this would be my reality forever.
I also began developing stomach problems. I suffered from a terrible stabbing pain in my stomach (usually after lunchtime), which became progressively worse. My gallbladder was failing and caused me severe pain on a regular basis. My diet was terrible; I had no energy to make quality food, so I relied on cereals, pasta, and snacks to get me through the day. Inflamed tonsils, extreme fatigue, unexplained headaches, chronic indigestion—these were all pieces of a puzzle that nobody could put together but me. If I could only listen to the signs, my body was giving me.
I knew deep down that my life wouldn’t be spent in a bed and that I didn’t deserve to be in pain every day. I was motivated to find a solution. When I went to college, I began my own research and found a doctor that listened to me, but I was still left with no answers. Many specialists did not have the answer, but it turns out I did.
It all started with me paying attention to what my body was telling me—finding patterns in the symptoms. With enough awareness, I realized my gallbladder would spasm in pain after meals with gluten (my favorite food group
at the time). I started my gluten-free journey, not really even knowing what gluten was, but knowing that it was harming my body. Many of my digestive problems improved immediately, and I no longer had gallbladder pain. My doctor sent me for an endoscopy to test for Celiac disease. The gastroenterologist didn’t inform me that eating gluten prior to the test was required, and I received negative results. I tried eating gluten for a short period of time, another negative endoscopy. I was then diagnosed with gluten intolerance.
When I would accidentally eat gluten (or purposefully, let’s be honest), I would develop painful bumps on my elbows (dermatitis herpetiformis). Those who develop the “Celiac rash” correlate with less visual damage to the gut, leading to fewer diagnoses. Although endoscopy is considered the gold standard for diagnosis, it too has its caveats.
Being part of the Raised Gluten Free team, I was lucky enough to travel with the founders, Rosa and Milia, to a tradeshow. The road trip from the Redwoods to Los Angeles was plenty of time for Rosa and Milia to learn more about my health story. They encouraged me to look further into a Celiac diagnosis and other food intolerances. My blood markers were still high after years of a strict gluten-free diet, I had the genetic marker for Celiac disease, and my stool tests indicated high malabsorption (due to a very damaged gut). After multiple tests, my doctor finally gave me a Celiac diagnosis after six years of pain.
My body began to heal, my digestion greatly improved, but I was still sleeping for the majority of my life. That was until I moved into my first apartment; I knew it would be my gluten-free oasis --no gluten allowed.
After years of living with a family of gluten-eaters, it was a luxury to feel entirely safe around food. A few months passed, and I no longer required a midday nap. It happened so gradually that even I didn’t realize how much I was healing. My sleepiness continued to improve until I had the energy levels of an average human! I was elated -- I thought my lack of energy was a permanent part of my life. It was only because I cut out all possibilities of gluten cross-contamination. It wasn’t enough to only eat gluten-free; I had to live a gluten-free lifestyle, which I still do to this day.
Without Raised Gluten Free and its founders, I believe I would never have been diagnosed. I am eternally grateful to the heart and soul this company has for its employees, customers, and their mission to bring gluten-free food to your table. Because of this company and listening to my own instincts, I am healthier than I could have ever imagined. My best advice is to trust your body; it has the answers if you take the time to listen."