WHY YOU MUST NEVER, EVER SELF-DIAGNOSE!
When you’ve got tummy pains, there’s always an online food article to make you wonder if you should avoid wheat/ egg/ sugar/ citrus/ celery (or basically every food on the planet).
And there’s nothing worse than self-diagnosis without evidence.
Welcome to the world of what it’s like to need food that’s free from….something.
I went through years of doctors, hospital appointments, specialists and dietitians. They knew something was wrong but actually identifying the cause proved more tricky.
At one point I was told to cut down on fat and sugar. So I did. Religiously.
But I was still ill ALL the time.
Initially I told myself it must be my fault. Once a month I’d allow myself a treat (like a biscuit or an icecream). It was therefore logical to think I shouldn’t have had it. But I was only doing it once a month so was the banned food really to blame?
It became so confusing. I’d feel okay(ish) and then I’d have some pizza and be in crippling agony. Perhaps pizza was the problem. Never mind it had been made by my doctor’s ‘rules’ (i.e. wholemeal flour with an olive oil & fresh vegetable topping). What about the brown rice I’d had the day before? Or the apple?
I kept blaming the last thing I’d eaten.
BIG MISTAKE! In fact, trying to self-diagnose was possibly the most cruel torture I could put myself through. It made me doubt everything I knew about my body and caused me no end of stress.
And I know I’m not the only one. There are so many people out there who are being their own worst detectives. I know of one woman who decided she should stop eating vegetables because they always seemed to make her ill. It didn’t occur to her the soy sauce she fried them in was the culprit. (Oh, wheat, you’re hidden in so many things!)
What I should have been doing was going back to the doctor (but a different one). In fact, it was this very move in the end that gave me my diagnosis.
If you suspect you might have Coeliac Disease (or another reason why you shouldn’t be eating a particular food group) then you need to adopt the following procedure: Keep a diary for a week. Identify ALL your symptoms (and not just because you’ve found them online). What’s really going on? How often are you getting (e.g.) headaches/ bloating etc…? Are there any symptoms you’ve got that you didn’t think you could associate with your diet (like your hands feeling numb)? Write them down. List everything you eat and drink and the times you do this. Tedious as this is, it’s vital you put down all the foods you’re eating and drinking. And that really does mean everything, even down to the type of oil or butter you’re using. For those who love their phones, use an online food diary app such as this one from dietplan.co.uk (just ignore the fact that it’s based on calorie-counting!). Armed with your food & symptoms diary, go to see your doctor. Tell them how long you’ve been feeling ill and that you’re worried. If you come away feeling dissatisfied, get a second opinion. Accept that it may take time to diagnose your problem. Although it’s frustrating, once you come to realise that you probably won’t feel better by tomorrow, it means you won’t be disillusioned. Finally, know that you will get better. It may not seem like it but taking an interest in your health is a significant step to ensuring the correct diagnosis and a happy future! Look forward to the day you can toast your diagnosis! Look forward to the day you can toast your diagnosis!