When Gluten Free is Dangerous
Thursday, January 31, 2013
I don't eat gluten because I have celiacs disease. It's a real thing. An autoimmune disorder. Genetic, like a lot of these things are. I have it, as does my sister and my aunt, and a couple cousins, and I think my father (who is asymptomatic and healthy and doesn't want to know either way). I was diagnosed kinda by mistake myself about 9 months ago and have been gluten free ever since.
And I hate it.
It interferes with my life in all sorts of ways. It's expensive for one thing, not only because I had to buy a new toaster that wasn't contaminated, but simple foods like bread and pasta are twice the price as whole wheat versions. Some of the gluten free cookies, etc. taste funny or gross and often times have way more sugar. I can't go to a ball game and have a beer and a hot dog. I can't walk into just any restaurant and know I'll find something I like on the menu. Sometimes I have to throw temper tantrums to get the kitchen to pay attention to me and my needs (I rarely go back after that). If someone else is cooking, even in their own home, I find myself watching them like a hawk to make sure they're not inadvertently going to cross contaminate something. It's such a big deal in my day to day life that it's become one of the first things people learn about me now. Then we end up spending a lot of time talking about it. And frankly, I don't want to talk about it because it's annoying and one of the least interesting things about me.
The only reason I do it is because I have to. Having suffered from a gluten attack earlier this week that left me miserable for days, at times with stomach cramps so severe I couldn't stand up straight, I can tell you it's well worth the hassle.
But somehow it's suddenly cool to do this, and for the life of me, I don't understand it. Why would anyone take on this on if they don't have to? And may I suggest you stop? Save yourself the time, money, effort. And because it makes those of us who do it because we don't have a choice look silly, like we're doing it on a whim. For some of us, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Thanks for letting me rant. Link to the article below that got me all riled up in the first place.
Member Comments About This Blog Post
This is a good blog because people just don't realize how hard it is to be on a special diet. I have been considering going wheat/gluten free because of minor digestive issues that seem to be directly due to wheat consumption but I tested negative for celiac. It's not something I take lightly or have even done fully since I know it's such a pain. I think for me it's more of an intolerance and not true celiac.
Anyway, rant away! It's good to do that once in a while!
1605 days ago
I bet it is annoying!! My girls have food allergies and talking about them and fielding peoples questions drives me insane. They seem to be growing out of it though. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
1605 days ago
They just don't understand the pain we go through when we eat wheat or any of the wheat family.
1608 days ago
I get where you are coming from. There are a lot of people who are jumping on the wheat free wagon after reading Dr. William Davis' book "Wheat Belly". I recommend reading that book to get a better understanding of some of what is behind this "trend". I think it is unfortunate that the book is called Wheat Belly because it make it sound as if this is all about weight loss as the one and only goal, but there really is so much more to it that weight loss. BTW - Davis recommends against using any gluten free products because they usually replace the wheat flour with tapioca, potato, bean, rice and assorted other flours and these are just as high in carbs and will not be an aid to anyone who does want to lose weight. But that's beside the point.
My personal experience is that I was obese, had hypertension, high everything, and diabetes. I also had a terrible time with rosacea (think pizza face), irritable bowel syndrome, recurring bouts of clinical depression, and debilitating arthritis. During this time I was doing the best I knew how to follow a healthy diet eating real foods, and included lots of healthy whole grains. With tremendous effort and determination following this plan for many years got 30 pounds off me, but they came off very slowly, kicking and screaming and I was so miserable and hungry all the time..
After reading "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes I went on a low carb diet. Low carb kind of eliminates all the grains and grain products as those are all high carb foods. So going wheat free or gluten free was kind of accidental. But after going through diet flu or carb withdrawal or whatever you want to call it for a couple of weeks, I was fine. No cravings. No maddening hunger. Now I really understand how inconvenient it is to be wheat free. I've been doing this for a year and five months. It requires a lot of work in the kitchen, and no fast food is almost all out of the question, but I really have adapted quite well and I eat a wide variety of healthy and delicious whole foods. I actually save money on groceries because I don't by any GF foods. I think they are awful anyway and they are outrageously expense. . I don't avoid fat at all and I don't ever count calories. But I'm down 78 pounds from my all time high and It's painless.
I just went for a check up and my LDL is below 100, my BP was 117/69, and my A1C was 5.8 which is the same as a non-diabetic. I'm no longer obese, I'm now just "overweight". But better even than all that is my IBS is cured - no more intestinal pain and woes. My face is totally clear, and I hardly ever have a flare of arthitis. I have had a couple, but I strongly suspect that it was due to some wheat contamination.
My doctor is thrilled with my successes. I told her that the only thing I've done different was to eliminate grains. She said that they are finding now a lot of cases where people test negative for celiac and yet they have symptoms that disappear when they eliminate wheat or gluten. There are a lot of people who have a wheat or gluten sensitivity and we have an even harder time getting people to take us seriously.
I really don't think that anyone who is doing GF as a fad diet will last on it. They eat all those expensive GF products and wonder why they don't lose weight. You know it's a PITA to do, so why would anyone stick with it if they don't have to? The non celiacs who do stick with it are like me, because they don't have a doctor's seal of approval and official diagnosis, but they get quite ill when they eat gluten or wheat. There isn't a wheat treat out there that is worth the price of the illness it will bring me.
In time you may find GF easier. We humans are very adaptable. More restaurants are getting with the program and offering a GF menu. Eating at someone else's house can be a sticky wicket if you don't trust that they will take your problem seriously. That's a situation where each situation may be different, but in time you'll learn to relax about it a litte.
Anyway - I hope you feel better about yourself and don't worry so much what others think.
Take care of yourself and be well
1608 days ago
Rant all you like. This is a safe place!
1608 days ago
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