Gluten is an essential protein usually found in rye, barley, and wheat kernel that we consume every day. It comes in different forms and is often found in products such as wheat flour or other wheat-based products like malt vinegar, soy sauce, and a lot more.
For a very long time, this “fad” really frustrated me. If I heard one more person say they were gluten free I was going to scream. But then one day something changed in me. I started digging into the Paleo diet for eliminating foods that can cause inflammation in our bodies and gluten was on the top of the list. So I pondered “what if” I allowed myself to get rid of my gluten free phobia and give it a try. The result? I felt so much better! Now as a disclaimer I am not 100% gluten free but I now limit it and to be honest I don’t even miss it most of the time.
Why Would You Avoid It?
There are many reasons why some people avoid gluten. For those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine lining and can lead to severe malnutrition and digestive problems, consuming too much gluten can damage or irritate their bowels. People diagnosed with celiac disease must be very careful to limit or completely remove gluten from their diets.
Another group of people who need to avoid gluten or even wheat is those with wheat or gluten sensitivity. I find that this is the category I fall into. Symptoms of this type of condition include a consistently runny nose, sneezing, hives, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, headaches, and a lot more. If you’re already experiencing these types of symptoms, you should first consult your medical and health professionals rather than diagnosing yourself.
There are long standing beliefs that consuming gluten can also aggravate some existing autoimmune system diseases that you may already be experiencing. This includes multiple sclerosis, eczema, Crohn’s disease, and a lot more. It doesn’t necessarily mean that consuming gluten is the root cause of the disease: rather, gluten exacerbates these existing conditions, contributing to flare-ups. There is also evidence that consuming gluten can add to overall body inflammation that leads to other side effects, such as joint pain, depression, and fatigue.
Do You Need to Give Up Eating Cereal, Bread, and Pasta?
Definitely not! Fortunately, there is a wide range of products available these days that are good and delicious substitutes for gluten-based products. Although these products were once only found in specialty health food stores, most of these products have now gone mainstreams and can be found in most grocery stores. Although these products may differ in texture, taste, and consistency, you will no doubt be able to find some that suit your taste buds. Since my family is not on board with the gluten free lifestyle I have to secretly switch things up and they rarely notice the difference. In fact, my family eats gluten free most of the time and they don’t even know it.
The Greatest Challenge
Eating out is very tricky because you generally don’t have any idea about the ingredients of your dish. But, it is easy—and becoming more common—to ask your server to find out if any barley, wheat, or rye has been used in your requested dish. Another challenge is learning more about food additives that contain gluten or wheat such as couscous, food starch, brewer’s yeast, and spelt bran.
The good news is, many of today’s eating establishments and food stores provided excellent offerings and food labels in response to the growing number of people who have decided to go wheat-free or gluten-free for a happier, healthier lifestyle.
There are thousands of free resources available if you are looking to go gluten free. One of my personal favorite books is the 21-day sugar detox. It is a very easy way to make some changes to your diet. If you don’t want to do the entire 21 days I encourage you just to follow the basic guidelines for a few weeks. You might really surprise yourself.