So I have Celiac, meaning I can’t have gluten and a few other things. And no, it’s not a fad nor a choice. So for starters, what is Celiac? Take it away Celiac Disease Foundation…
“Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”
Auto-immune disorder! Health complications!
I’ll spare you the details, but basically, if I eat gluten I not only get really sick for several days, but my body also starts attacking itself while trying to attack the gluten. And I’m talking if I eat literal crumbs of bread here. Not like a sandwich.
My gut lining is destroyed and I have to constantly work to build it back to make sure I can even just digest normal food. So I have a whole list of other food intolerances, including dairy, eggs, blueberries, garlic, and more. These food intolerances are more or less an inconvenience and not anywhere near as serious as my gluten intolerance. But I’m happy to answer any questions!
With Celiac, I’m also prone to other issues and illnesses, including Vitamin-D deficiency, anemia, Leaky Gut Syndrome (which apparently mainstream medical professionals do not recognize, tell that to my body which contains a bunch of random crap), and more! Fun stuff. I KNOW! And I’m just getting started. I’m kidding, I won’t bore you with the rest.
Now for the gluten…
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and it or its twins are found in grain such as barley, rye, semolina, non-gluten-free oats and more.
To those who often end up confused or misinformed. Gluten is not in rice, potatoes, or corn. It’s also not in milk or cheese. It’s not in corn chips unless flour is added. Gluten does not mean carbs. I’m not carb-free, I’m gluten-free.
Lastly, before I step off my soapbox, a gluten-free diet does NOT mean you should just start replacing all your foods with gluten-free options. A gluten-free diet should be followed if you have Celiac, a gluten intolerance, or if you just find yourself with bloating, stomach aches, or less energy when you eat it. A gluten-free diet does NOT mean you are suddenly eating healthier if you’re eating gluten-free bread or cookies instead of regular bread and cookies. You’re still eating bread and cookies.
If you are looking to go gluten-free and think that replacing gluten-free carbs with regular carbs, you’re going to have a hard time. What you’re looking for is a carb-free diet and THEN that’s when bread, potatoes, rice, and more get grouped together. Otherwise, you’re going to be ingesting typically more binding agents and sugar since that’s often what’s added to gluten-free baked goods even more than glutenous baked goods.
Tips to being Celiac:
- Watch out for ALL ingredients labels. ALL of them. If you had a sudden diagnosis and had to be placed on an immediate gluten-free diet, you’re suddenly going to find yourself reading labels of food items you would THINK would be gluten-free, yet aren’t. And yes, you’re going to make the mistake of reading the label after and realize you just ate a bunch of gummi bears yet realized once you’re done that gluten “may” be one of the ingredients. Stay away from those! Trust me, you don’t want to risk it.
- Communicate with friends and family and ask them for support. You can’t do it alone. Even though it doesn’t make sense, help people understand the severity and they’ll support you even when you feel completely overwhelmed.
- Tell your waiter about your allergy. Every. Time. You might feel like it’s an annoyance, but it’s really your insecurity getting the best of you. You do NOT want to be miserable 30 minutes later when you realize that they forgot to remove a sauce that had “just a teeny bit of flour” in it. Not worth it for 3 days+ of pain and suffering. Waiters and restaurants need to be better educated and if you stand up for yourself, you could be saving dozens of other people from that pain.
- Educate yourself. There’s so much information out there to help you understand how you got here, what to do now, and what the future looks like.
- Find a good holistic doctor/naturopath who will help you through this journey. You need a doctor who will believe you when you tell them your symptoms and unfortunately “modern” medicine hasn’t quite caught on to the importance of holistic health and the incredible power of your gut, good or bad.
Future posts to come about my Celiac experience, but for now, feel free to ask any questions! I’m always here to chat and offer any support, guidance, and resources!
Cheers To Good Gut Health!
One thought on “What Is Gluten Anyways?”
Thanks for sharing, Mac. I love the way you transparently share your story. It’s so important for all of us to be enlightened about food allergies and intolerance. I’m very interested in providing safe and delicious foods for my family and friends. Praying for you and all those who suffer. You have a wonderful proactive attitude!