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Monday, May 6, 2013
Brain Fog
Foggy brain day

This picture is a pretty close representation of what my brain was like coming to work in New York City last week. Foggy. Thick. Not clear. Yeah, I had some pretty bad brain fog last week. I could't form complete sentences, I was forgetting what I was doing, and I was so exhausted. While I think a lot of it had to do with changing my diet so dramatically for this elimination diet, I also think it had to do with a new "gluten-free" food I put into my mouth.

Last week, I introduced Trader Joe's gluten-free oats into my diet. I had those GF oats in cookies a few times over the past year. I only got sick the very first time but after that I had no noticeable side effects from eating the oats. As a Celiac diagnosed in the 1980s, I was always told to avoid oats. So for more than 25 years, I avoided oats. I did try some crackers and cookies made from certified GF oat flour over the past few years, but I always got sick. I decided I needed something for breakfast each morning and after checking on my elimination diet worksheet, oats seemed to be allowed. I took the plunge and I tried a bowl for dinner one night. I did this at night in case I got "glutened" and needed to be home (aka, near the toilet!) I had no tell-tale signs of my "glutening". No stomach ache, no throwing up, no bathroom runs. I figured I was in the clear. I had oats 3 more times last week and still no regular gluten reaction. But I was foggy, oh so foggy.

I went to the chiro on Friday for my weekly exam. (He is the doctor working with me on this elimination diet.) I told him about my fogginess and he said it might be the sugar withdrawal. He put me on some additional supplements to help me work through the major changes going on in my body. He told me to drink more water, which I think is impossible since I already drink tons each day, and to increase my protein. I left there feeling frustrated and even more foggy.

That night, I thought maybe the gluten-free oats were causing this fogginess. Brain fog is a very real symptom of ingesting gluten and it occurred to me that the oats were the culprit. I actually had a really bad bought of brain fog after my last glutening. I decided that I have lived 30 years without oats in my diet so what is another 30 more without oats. Right there and then I put the oats in the back of the cabinet and decided no more oats.

I have now been GF oat free since Friday and you know what? No more fog! Seriously, I have been more alert and able to remember so much more in the past three days. It is interesting to me that I now have a new symptom to be aware of in case of possible gluten ingesting. I definitely wasn't aware of this symptom in the past but now I know that  this is how my body might react to eating gluten.* I am ok with no oats, especially when I feel like this instead:

Clear brain day

* I did use Trader Joe's gluten-free oats during this experiment. I am not saying these oats have gluten, I am just saying that my experience with ingesting them left me with similiar symptoms as when I eat gluten. By no means does my reaction mean you will have the same reaction. I just want to share my experience with  my readers.



Anonymous Andrea said...

Hi Erin,

I can relate to the brain fog, it definitely is not fun. Some of us who were in Pasadena for the CDF Conference and Expo had an incident happen at dinner, some of the group was glutened and even though I can't confirm I was, I got sick after dinner andI have been in a fog all week since getting back. Hope you are feeling better!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter and I have been gluten free for 2 months and we struggle with what we thought were withdrawal symptoms. We both had major brain fog this week. This was the first site that I looked at when trying to find help. I made granola with Trader Joes Gluten free oats and we have been eating it 1 - 2 times a day all week. I will be sad not to have oatmeal but will also willingly give it up to get rid of the brain fog. Thanks so much!

Blogger Amanda on Maui said...

Brain fog is absolutely no fun. I was once glutened the night before a test at university. When the test was placed in front of me the level of fogginess was very apparent. This was a course in which I was top star, and the difficulty I had locating the information in my mind actually took me to the brink of tears. I was able to pass the test well, but it definitely took a lot more effort than it should have. Had things been even more difficult, I would have informed my instructor to the situation.

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