Am I Gluten Intolerant?
Celiac Disease is when someone is allergic to gluten, a product that is found in wheat, barley and rye. It is a genetic condition. If someone who has Celiac Disease ingests gluten, it could cause severe intestinal damage. 1 in 133 (about three million) people suffer from Celiac disease but there is now a seperate known condition called Gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance.There are no exact statistics yet on how many people are affected by this, but, experts are reporting anywhere from 5 to 50% of people are Gluten Intolerant. These numbers vary quite a bit because, at this point, there is no test for gluten sensitivity. All results are taken from research that is being done in specific labs, with selected people.
Signs of Gluten Intolerance
If you have been feeling sluggish, have an upset stomach that includes chronic diarrhea or constipation, you may be gluten intolerant or sensitive. Some other symptoms include:
- Migraines or headaches
- Brain Fog
- Gas and/or bloating
- Chronic exzema
- Joint pains
These are not all the symptoms that could point to problems with gluten but if you are experiencing any of them chronically, they could be indicative. I recommend a visit to the doctor or you can go gluten free for a couple of weeks and see if that makes a difference.
Why Go Gluten Free?
There has been a trend in the past few years that has many people changing to a gluten free lifestyle whether they are are gluten sensitive or not. It is believed to be a "toxin" that is the cause of many symptoms including bloating, weight gain and poor energy. Many people have elected to eliminate or reduce gluten from their diet whether or not they are truly sensitive/intolerant. While gluten sensitivity is not a condition that can be tested, it is known to be found in many processed foods. Since more and more processed foods are being made and consumed, people are having increasing digestive issues. With the amount of food allergies on the rise and people who are elimiinating gluten to be healthier, shouldn't we just stop eating overly processed foods altogether?
Gluten is not the only food we can be sensitive to.
Every so often, we find a new food to pick on. Not so long ago, it was carbs. Many of us jumped on the bandwagon with Dr. Atkins and removed carbohydrates from our diet. The latest product we are shunning is fructose. Fructose is the major sugar in honey, agave, fruit juice and high-fructose corn syrup. In addition to these more "high profile" foods, many of us are lactose intolerant where our bodies don't digest the milk sugar in dairy products.
How to Find Gluten Free Products in the Store.
There are so many products that are naturally gluten free and even more that are engineered to be gluten free. You can pretty much find a gluten free equivalent for anything on your menu. That being said, know that many things will not be exactly the same. They may have a different texture or flavor. Another concern is that when you purchase naturally gluten free products, they may not be identified as gluten free because they are made in a factory that also produces gluten. If you are truly gluten sensitive or have Celiac Disease, you should not buy these products. Even traces of gluten may be more than your body can tolerate. Do make sure that what you purchase is clearly marked. I have not found a universal symbol for gluten free products. Some stores will have their products clearly marked on the shelf and others will have them in a gluten free section. Even if you find your product in that section, check the label to be certain that it is in fact gluten free. There are some natural superfoods, like quinoa and wild rice, that are rich in fiber and nutrients. One of my personal favorites is oatmeal but you need to check that it is pure otherwise it may have gluten in it.
Our First Gluten Free Shopping expedition!
Why go Gluten free?
My son has displayed many of the symptoms related to Gluten Intolerance. I have had a few but since I have Crohn's Disease, I have a natural propensity to difficulty in the digestive system. We decided to turn our home into a gluten free environment. My first impression? It is easier said than done! We are fortunate in that we love our fruits and veggies but we can't live on that alone. My first mistake was in buying all the snack foods you see pictured above. What I didn't think about, wwas that we might overdo on those and end up gaining weight, too. Instead, I should put the rest of the groceries I bought, pictured below!
We don't all eat the same diets.
Are you on any special diet?
Gluten Free Weight Loss
If you are going gluten free just to lose weight and not due to any sensitivity, you may want to rethink this. What can be said about gluten free weight loss is that when you start by eliminating wheat products like breads, cakes, cookies and pasta, you will probably see an immediate weight loss. If you continue that way, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, you will lose definitely lose weight. Don't let the labels fool you! Unfortunately, many of the gluten free "junk food" can be very high in carbs and sodium. If you eat a lot of these, you may end up gaining weight.
If you are not gluten sensitive, you can still lose weight by eating different grains and eliminating wheat products from your diet as long as you balance it with the right amount of fruits and veggies.