The past two weeks we’ve been going over the art of gluten-free baking. Why? Because it can be trick-y, but not so much when you know how to do it. We hope you got a LOT of information out of those posts, and are excited to tackle it during this holiday season if you’re converting to a gluten-free lifestyle. We also hoped you got inspired with some new recipes and some of our favorite bloggers that feature a ton of gluten-free recipes, including Gluten-Free Girl, Elana’s Pantry, The Edible Perspective, The First Mess, What’s Cooking Good Looking….and oh so many more.
But what about the choice of whether or not you should go gluten-free? Friends, that question is one we hear a lot. Without having a severe gluten allergy (celiac disease), it can be tough to know if it’s worth it for you, right? The truth is it’s a totally personal decision, and even though there are plenty of labs out there that can potentially tell you whether or not you’re reacting to gluten, not all will give you black and white results (unless you have celiac disease). The only sure-fire way to know is by eliminating it from your life and seeing how do without it vs. with it.
If considering that option, it will benefit you to understand the difference between perfectly fine with gluten to having allergies, or intolerance. They all can have different OR similar reactions…and it’s often so much more than just a bad stomach ache. Take a look at the different possibilities so you can better understand.
1. Gluten is a BIG Problem (Celiac Disease)
Celiac disease is on the rise. The condition, also called celiac sprue, coeliac, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy, was once considered rare, but it is now affecting more people than ever, 1 in 100. Many physicians believe it is a grossly undiagnosed disease, and some doctors now regularly screen anyone with severe digestive complaints for the hazardous disease. The reality is celiac disease is more than an uncomfortable condition – it’s life threatening.
- Common symptoms: stomach pain, chronic diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, floating or foul smelling stool, depression, fatigue, infertility, weight loss, and much more.
- Associated Symptoms & Conditions: Itchy rash (dermatitis hepetiformis), Peripheral neuropathy, Ataxia, Osteoporosis, Behavioral changes, Irregular menstrual cycle, Infertility, Addison’s disease, Fibromyalgia, Autism, Anxiety/depression, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Inflammatory bowel disease, Irritable bowel syndrome, severe headaches/migraines, Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis & Graves disease, Type 1 diabetes, Pancreatic disorders, Multiple sclerosis *note this list is not all inclusive, there can be other manifestations
- Diagnosis: Your doctor needs to administer a test, but you must be consuming gluten at the time of the test, as a gluten-free diet (even if short term) may give you false negative results.
2. You Don’t have Celiac…But Something is Way Off (Gluten Intolerance)
Many people have symptoms of celiac disease but receive negative blood test results and intestinal biopsies that reveal no tissue damage. Patients with gluten sensitivity, as opposed to celiac disease, will have antibodies against gluten, but not the autoimmune antibodies that are characterized by celiac disease.
- Common symptoms: same as celiac! Often digestive distress but many more possibilities.
- Diagnosis: This is increasingly common, and it can be very frustrating as it’s difficult to obtain a clear diagnosis. Gluten sensitivity can manifest as the same symptoms listed above, with a greater variability in severity and duration. Since tests can be both expensive and difficult to obtain, your best bet may be to do an elimination diet, like on any of our programs! We recommend 2 months for best results. Food allergy & sensitivity tests, as well as stool tests, can also be extremely helpful for uncovering reactions to gluten but aren’t always black and white. Determining if you’re gluten sensitive is just as important as determining if you have celiac disease, as over time your health will deteriorate if nothing is done.
3. Gluten doesn’t make you feel too sexy.
For those that don’t have Celiac or a diagnosed intolerance, you just may not feel so hot when you eat gluten-filled foods. Low energy, less endurance, overall ‘slowness’ are common words to describe these feelings. Many people are seeing a positive change in their appearance, in fact, many professional athletes have gone gluten-free due to improved performance!
- Common symptoms: digestive distress, fatigue, energy issues and overall blah.
- Diagnosis: Eliminate gluten from your diet for 2 months (why? gluten is pesky and can linger in the blood stream for a while). Add it back into your diet and see you how feel.
4. Gluten Ain’t no Thang
You feel absolutely fine with gluten. No cramping or chronic side effects. Perhaps you have headaches, digestive issues, or joint pain some but you’ve tried going gluten-free for 2 months and noticed no difference.
SO – what do you think? We hope you have some more information to help guide you in making that decision. There is no right answer to whether or not gluten is bad for YOU. It ultimately depends on your physical make-up and how you react. You can experiment with how gluten reacts in your body by removing it and adding it back into your diet. Go ahead, give it a try. You can get 7 days kick start by participating in our Holiday Disaster Prevention Program this December. Once you know how, we promise it isn’t so bad, not one bit.