Gluten-free may be one of the most popular diets these days. It didn’t start out that way. Gluten-free was created for those diagnosed with celiac disease, or gluten-sensitivity.
But with the increase in gut issues as well as autoimmune diseases, the gluten-free diet has grown exponentially and there aren’t too many people who don’t hear something about it in the news or through the web at least weekly if not daily.
There are people all over the spectrum in regards to their relationship with what they know, and what they wished they knew.
For those with questions about celiac disease, or even more accurate, the gluten-free diet, I hope these questions and answers help you.
My daughter was diagnosed with celiac at 5 yrs old. No testing was done. To this day, I wish we had had some confirmation that she had celiac beyond the removal of wheat. Why?
Two years into the diet, we read that some celiacs could handle wheat if it was sprouted. So, we bought sprouted wheat bread allowed her to have a quarter of a slice.
Within a short period of time, she began having breathing difficulty. Her head lobbed, she started drooling and we knew we were in trouble.
We had gone hiking on a picnic, and there was no car or phone service around.
By the time we walked briskly back, she was coming out of it.
What the heck was that? We had never even heard of anaphylactic or anything like it.
Needless to say, she never eaten wheat again unless by accident.
But, I was always left wondering, was she celiac? We may never know.
Question 1: What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction that occurs inside the intestinal lining. Basically, the body sends our little warriors in response to gluten being eaten, that attacks the villa (small hair-like projections that line the gut).
It actually is not an allergy, and it can affect the body in many, many different ways. Anything from joint pain, to a lack of enamel on teeth, to the inability to absorb nutrients. Brain fog is a common complaint as well as bloated bellies, gas, and diarrhea.
Question 2: Who should go gluten-free?
Anyone who has been tested and confirmed to have Celiac. Anyone who, like my daughter, was not tested by responded well to having gluten removed from her diet and anyone who is not Celiac, but is gluten-sensitive.
For those of us who can eat gluten without an issue, we see our bodies working in amazing ways. We don’t assimilate all the gluten that goes in – so, what happens? Our bodies eliminate it as we would a germ or bacteria. Simply and efficiently.
I would not have tested positive for Celiac, but I can not handle gluten anymore. Maybe because I don’t eat it much, or maybe due to the fact I can’t handle many grains. Either way, I don’t consume gluten, and I have cut back on grains as well.
Question 3: Why is the gluten-free diet so popular? Are there that many people who can’t eat gluten?
There could be a number of answers to that question. There is a much greater awareness of Celiac disease now. Testing is more accurate. Celebrities have made it a bit ‘faddish’. But I think the best reason of all is that – darn it – we just feel better going off of gluten! I know the science community would disagree with that. But, it is true. Anecdotal or not.
When I have completely eliminated gluten, and even cut back on grains in general, I have very little bloatedness, gas, and feel much better. A word of warning, if you cut out your gluten, and then substitute other ‘grains’ and starches, you will probably raise your sugar and fat intake, without the benefit of the what wheat offers, like iron and folic, and other nutrients.
We had to research and find healthy alternatives, snacks, and new foods to help counter the loss of nutrition and fiber we had consumed with wheat.
Question 4: Do I really need tests done to confirm I have Celiac? Can’t I just remove wheat?
Tests are much more accurate today than 20 years ago. First, your doctor will most likely ask you about symptoms. There are other illnesses and diseases that can cause gut issues. Second, if warrented, you will have blood work. A Celiac panel blood test. And if need be, a biopsy of your intestines to check for the damaged villa.
I am not a fan of tests. But I have to admit, this is one I think I would go through with – to eliminate other issues and because I would want to know for sure if I need to eliminate gluten from my diet.
Question 5: What foods should I avoid eating if I am going gluten-free?
Really good question. Being alert and informed will help you on the road to healing. Gluten lurks in places you may not realize. Besides in rye, oats (cross-contamination), barley spelt and of course, any white flour, it is also in many condiments, soy products, malt, beer, ice cream, soups, and more!
Question 6: Okay, now what can I eat on a gluten-free diet?
Our eyes were opened to the plethora of healthy foods we had never even considered before. Vegetables baked, steamed, glazed, marinated – we turned to grass-fed meats that tasted better than grain-fed. Grilled, marinated, slow cooked in a crockpot. Beans and legumes added fiber, gut healthy nutrients, prebiotics, and variety. (I recommend going slow with these, if not holding off on them until you gut heals. They can be hard to digest. However, we found that soaking them at night with a small amount of apple cider vinegar helped to break down the phytic acid some. They were more easily digestible.
As far as grains, rice, quinoa (a favorite), millet, buckwheat (great for baking), amaranth (protein power), and so much more. A quick internet search will fill you in all of that and more. We would do oats as well, but only from a gluten-free source.
Question 7: Does going gluten-free make a good diet for losing weight?
Honestly, I think that depends on a number of things. What were you eating before? Lots of starch and carbs? If you eliminate those foods and start eating more vegetables and fruit, you probably will. If you go from one simple carb, filled with sugar to another, then no, and maybe you will gain weight. Remember, this is your chance to heal your body and live a healthy, more intentional life!
Keep in mind, you are not alone in this, and many have gone before you and helped prepare the way. There is a cornucopia of health blogs out there, as well as some well done gluten-free kitchen blogs.
Disclosure: I am not a health professional, only someone in the boat with many who have had to alter drastically their diets and that of their loved ones. Always consult with your doctor on any health issues. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask. I try to answer all I can.
The greatest wealth – is health. Author Unknown