I recently received an email from a new reader inquiring as to why I’m gluten-free. With all the hype of gluten-free products on the market she assumed I may be into the gluten-free fad.
I started to reflect upon my website and determined that unless you’ve been following for awhile, you may not have seen me state I’m gluten intolerant in a few posts. Hence, all my gluten-free recipes!Here are a few question and answers to help give you all the details! I will also be adding a FAQ page with this post + most gluten-free questions revealed!!
How did you determine you were gluten intolerant?
Back in spring of 2008, I first started to toy with the idea that I might be gluten intolerant. I was experiencing a lot of abdominal discomfort and noticed on days that I wasn’t consuming as many gluten-containing products I felt much better.
Well time went on and in the spring of 2009 I started a gluten free diet. Once I told my mom this (who is a Physician Assistant for a Gastroenterologist), she mentioned that you must currently be on a gluten-containing diet for the blood tests for Celiac Disease to be accurate. So, I kind of fiddled around with my diet and received the blood test for Celiac Disease that spring when I came home.
Turns out I messed up my test results due to playing with a gluten-free diet prior to being tested. My mom and I knew this could happen, but we wanted to get the blood test done before I was 100% gluten-free. My results were equivocal.
Without going into crazy science terminology, there are certain indicators that are specific markers for Celiac disease. My indicators showed neither a positive nor negative result… thus equivocal. My GI and primary care doctors explained that had I not started my gluten-free diet, I most likely would have had a positive result for at least one indicator. My doctors further explained, that had I not started my gluten-free diet and still had equivocal results, this would indicate to them that I’m gluten intolerant or pre-Celiac disease. We may just have caught it early.
What do you eat?
I eat all kinds of things as you can tell from the recipe section! But the main culprits of gluten-containing foods come from wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Oats are usually questionable for those with gluten intolerance because they are manufactured on equipment that also manufacturers wheat products, unless specifically noted otherwise. I have been very lucky and can still eat regular oats. Don’t worry though, when I create a gluten-free recipe containing oats, I always make sure to create it as if the person had Celiac disease and needed to be 100% gluten-free.
Can you be more specific on foods you don’t eat? Don’t a lot of foods contain wheat?
Yes, a lot of foods do contain wheat. Here is a quick list of food terms that I don’t eat: barley, bulgar, couscous, dinkle (or spelt), durum wheat, farina, graham flour, gluten (also other gluten words are gliadin, gluten peptides, glutenin), kamut, matza (sad face — I used to love matza ball soup), rye, and semolina.
There are also other questionable foods like oats, that may or may not contain gluten. Here are Questionable food terms: bran, edible starch, food starch, grits, groats, hemp, malt, and modified food starch.Always read the ingredient list on packaged foods. If you are gluten intolerant you may also learn to love your kitchen + scratch made meals more. I know I do!
Since you are gluten intolerant, how lenient are you with your gluten-free diet?
Honestly, I’m probably 90% totally gluten-free. If a product contains modified food starch or food starch I do not always verify if it’s a wheat, corn, tapioca, or potato based product. Obviously, if it causes me abdominal distress I no longer consume that product in the future. I have read some information about the term “modified food starch” being corn based in the USA and wheat based in Europe. Interesting, but I’m not sure how closely I want to believe that.
I have contacted Splenda personally and if you see “modified food starch” on their products, it is corn based!Okay, getting off track. Yes, I’m about 90% totally gluten-free. If John orders something at a restaurant that I can’t eat, I may take one bite of it just to see what I’m missing. Obviously, too many bites would equal an uncomfortable evening and damage to my villi.
What happens to your body if you have Celiac disease and eat gluten?
This is going to be a brief answer until someone emails me requesting an entire post just for this question. Basically, when people with Celiac disease eat gluten-containing foods, their immune system damages/destroys villi on your small intestine. The villi are tiny, fingerlike “helpers”, allowing nutrients to be absorbed from the walls of your small intestine to your bloodstream. Picture these villi as carpet. If the villi become blunted too much your carpet turns into a hard wood floor. Get it? Damage equals no fun and can lead to malabsorption. Good news is that your villi can be regenerated by following a gluten-free diet. And it comes full circle!
I know this is a long post, but I hope it helps you understand what it means when I say I’m gluten intolerant. I also know I just threw a ton of information out there, so if you have questions please don’t hesitate to email me at HealthyHeddleston@gmail.com.