11/7/10

My Gluten-Free Recommendations


Recently, I discovered I was sensitive to gluten, mostly wheat products. I am thankful I’m not allergic to gluten like most Celiacs, but nonetheless I am affected by it.

The Information

What is Gluten? Gluten is a special type of protein that is commonly found in wheat, rye and barley. This includes all breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pastas, pancakes, waffles, bagels, pizza, cereals, crackers, lagers, ales, and stouts. Hidden gluten can be found in sauces, gravy, salad dressings, imitation meats, processed lunch meats, "modified food starch" or "hydrolyzed vegetable protein". *note: ALL forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn and faro)

Which Grains are safe? Grains that do not have gluten include rice, corn, cornmeal, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, teff, oats, tapioca, arrowroot, hominy, polenta, soybeans, and sunflower seeds, and any Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)*note: oats & teff are naturally gluten-free but are most often processed in bins that process other wheat products.

What is Celiac Disease? It’s a non-curable condition which causes severe reactions in the intestines after consuming gluten. The prolonged exposure to gluten can lead to poor absorption of vital minerals and vitamins, damaging the small intestine and causing malnutrition over time.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Digestive problems (abdominal bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, pale stools, and weight loss). Often mistaken for lactose intolerance & irritable bowel syndrome.
  • A severe skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis.
  • Iron deficiency anemia (low blood count).
  • Fatigue, weakness, lack of energy.
  • Musculoskeletal problems (muscle cramps, joint and bone pain).
  • Growth problems and failure to thrive (in children).
  • Seizures.
  • Tingling sensation in the legs (caused by nerve damage and low calcium).
  • Aphthous ulcers (sores in the mouth).
  • Missed menstrual periods.
  • Delayed onset of puberty. 
  • Frequent respiratory infections. 
  • Problems with memory and concentration.
  • Irritability in children. And adults may show signs of depression. 
  • Osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and leads to fractures. This occurs because the person has trouble absorbing enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Miscarriage or infertility.
  • Birth defects, such as neural tube defects (improper formation of the spine) caused by poor absorption of such nutrients as folic acid.
  • Growth problems in children because they don't absorb enough nutrients.
  • Cancer of the intestine (very rare).
People who have celiac disease may have other autoimmune diseases, including:

  • Thyroid disease
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren's syndrome (a disorder that causes insufficient moisture production by the glands) *note:
Symptoms of celiac disease occur with a variety of other conditions, which often mask or delay the initial diagnosis.

My Own Diagnosis


  • The first thing I did when I got home from the doctor’s office, was to read everything I could get my hands on. Research & educating yourself is very important in your approach to any illness.




  • Before getting tested for the Celiac disease and getting an endoscopy and other expensive medical procedures, I tried the Elimination Diet at home.


  • For two weeks I eliminated ALL gluten foods from my diet (and my house) to give my body a chance to rid itself of all harmful factors. The next 4 to 6 weeks got a lot easier since I started to see a huge change for the better.



  • I was very shocked to discover that I was NOT lactose intolerant which for the last 20+ years I had been missing out on the best dairy products! I was also pleasantly surprised to see my hair, skin and nails improve.

    During this time the small intestine was able to calm down from the constant attacks & inflammation and slowly began healing itself! This was a good sign but the next phase was going to prove even more interesting…

    For the next few weeks I started to add foods back into my diet, one at a time, until eventually my symptoms came back. It it very important to keep a food diary during this phase!

    As I added the gluten items little by little, I began experiencing (in just 36 hours!) the painful cramps, bloating in the mid-section, difficulty in bowel movements, lots of gas, tiredness, soreness and some levels of depression.

    I continued with wheat for an entire week; then did rye & barley for the second week. I finished out the month consuming enough gluten to knock out an ten elephants! The old problems were coming back faster than I could record them in my diary! This experiment was more than enough to convince me that I was dealingwith a serious gluten issue.

    My Own SolutionAfter careful consideration I decided that the best thing for me was to go completely gluten-free. It’s not a gimmick, it’s not a fashion trend and it’s definitely not my imagination. If the inconvenience means a longer, healthier life then I’m not really missing out on anything at all!

    1. I recommend you visit Cecilia’s Marketplace to get the updated shopping guide! It contains over 30,000 items and they are listed by Brand, by Store & Supermarket off-Brands! It’s small enough to carry with you when you go shopping! Not all food products tell you they are gluten-free on their package!

    2. Learn to read food labels! If something is processed, has additives and stuff you don’t recognize just put it back on the shelf. If you see things that sound harmless like caramel or distilled vinegar, think twice! These often contain malt and other wheat-based derivatives. For info: Celiac Support Group and Mama’s Gluten-free Ingredients List

    3. Join a good online network! You will learn a lot about your condition, receive updates & news about celiac & food allergies, and you’ll also meet real people like yourself & exchange some tried & true gluten-free recipes! Check out: Gluten-Free Faces Social Network

    4. If you’re interested in receiving a periodical with tons of articles & recipes dedicated to the gluten-free lifestyle try one of these:



    For Your Information

    -Printable Brochure by Celiac Disease Foundation
    -Gluten-Free Groceries by Publix Supermarket
    -Gluten-Free Items by ShopRite
    -Printable List of Gluten-free by Trader Joe’s
    -Tax Deductible Guide for Gluten-Free Products
    -Healthy, Natural & Organic by WholeFoods
    -Gluten-Free Shopping by Wegmans
    -Gluten-free & Organic Foods by Manna Grocery



    Interesting Tid BitsGluten (from Latin gluten "glue")

    • Celiac (from Greek koiliakos “of the stomach”)
    • 1 in 133 Americans are affected
    • The American Celiac Family Support Groups Motto:
       "WHEN IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT"
    • 1 cup of Wheat Flour can be substituted for one of these:
    7/8 cup rice flour
    5/8 cup potato starch flour
    1 cup soy flour plus 1/4 cup potato starch flour
    1 cup corn flour


     

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