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I have been waiting to do this post for so long and I'm finally ready. Today we need to have a serious talk about gluten and having a gluten intolerance. Before I get into some facts, let me share with you my experience with gluten intolerance. For the past few years James has felt sick on and off. He's had nausea, dizzyness, and some other symptoms. His doctor first looked into the possibility of an ulcer. Unfortunately nothing changed. Finally his doctor brought up the possibility of a gluten intolerance and Celiac's Disease. He was tested for Celiac's but it came up negative but that doesn't mean you can't have a gluten intolerance. The way to test for that is to not have gluten for 2 weeks and see if you feel better. If you do, then that's more than likely the culprit. And lo and behold, that was the culprit for James.
Before I go any further let me give you some facts about Gluten and Gluten Intolerance.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the name for the proteins that are found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is what helps food maintain it's shape and what helps it stick together.
What's a gluten intolerance?
A person with a gluten intolerance can not digest the gluten proteins. The time it takes vary, but most people that suffer from a gluten intolerance say that within a few hours of eating gluten they begin having symptoms.
Is a gluten intolerance the same as Celiac's Disease?
No. Celiac's Disease is an autoimmune disorder where your body mistakenly reacts to gluten as if it were a poison. You can have a gluten intolerance and NOT have Celiac's Disease. You can find more information on Celiac's Disease here.
What's the treatment for a gluten intolerance?
The ONLY known treatment as of right now is a gluten-free diet.
So now, we will discuss signs, symptoms, and what foods are and aren't gluten-free.
Some symptoms of a gluten intolerance are:
Feeling flustered and anxious.
Brain fog and trouble concentrating.
Dizziness and headaches
Gas and bloating
*Like I said, those are just a few. Do some research of your own to determine if you may have a gluten intolerance or go see your doctor.
Foods that contain and don't contain gluten:
|Infographic from: https://healthjoy.com/gluten-free-foods-list/|
How do I know what's Gluten-Free and what isn't?
Aside from carrying around a printed chart with you, use your brain. Read the ingredients. Gluten-free labels and seals are great but don't be fooled. Just because a product doesn't have it, doesn't mean it has gluten in it. Below the ingredients you'll often see a note indicating if the facility this food comes from processes gluten and any other allergens as well. Again though, read the labels! If you get rice and the only ingredient in it is rice...it's gluten-free! Educate yourself first so it becomes second nature for you to know and look for this stuff.
Should everyone go Gluten-Free?
It depends. Obviously you should always consult with your doctor first. There are risks to going gluten-free if you don't have to. There was a very informative article on Huffington Post before that basically explained it. If you decide to go gluten free even if you don't have to you should make sure you get enough other vitamins and nutrients ( fiber, iron, zinc, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, vitamin B12 and phosphorus) in your diet to make up for it since you won't have any whole grains. Also, if you go without gluten for a while and then you end up having some, even accidentally, your body can react in an intolerant way. So it's definitely something to think about and talk about with your doctor. If you want to cut back on gluten, that's totally fine, but to go out of your way and avoid it completely, even a speck of it, is a big decision.
So what if you're in my situation?
Since James can't have gluten I've changed many of my everyday ingredients for cooking so that I'm better able to meet his needs. For the first few weeks I cooked things separately (using panko on my food but gluten-free panko on his) and it became a huge hassle so I decided to embrace it.
Now I still have gluten myself, in things like pizza crust, dressings, sauces, etc. but James has to be so careful. When you are intolerant of gluten you need to read every single label. You also have to be mindful at restaurants. The other week James got ribs from somewhere and the sauce must have had some traces of flour in it because he got super sick. It's exhausting at first but once you adjust to a new lifestyle it becomes more easy to come up with.
So today I want to share with you a few everyday staples that you can have in your kitchen if you'd like to go gluten-free whether it's for yourself or a family member.
I love using panko breadcrumbs on fish and chicken but obviously that had to change for James. So we have started using Glutino. These taste just as good as regular breadcrumbs but I have found that you have to use a bit more because they don't necessarily stick the same.
Obviously when you bake things, you can't use regular flour. DUH. Well, I've tried many different flours and my favorite by far is Cassave Flour. This is a complete grain-free replacement for wheat flour. It has no fillers and is made 100% out of Yuca and water. One thing that originally stunk about gluten-free flour was that it was dry and crumbly in the form of a cookie or brownie. I have to say that Otto's Cassave Flour is nearly identical to wheat flour. It had great consistency and held baked goods together. I'm really impressed and plan to keep a steady stock of this in our pantry!
Glutino also has a selection of gluten-free crackers that James really enjoys. They hit the spot without being too dry.
Udi's makes a great gluten-free bread that James seems to enjoy. Obviously it's not going to be the same as regular bread, but you have to understand that it's just a part of your new lifestyle and you gotta learn to love it!
So I hope that this post was informative for you and who knows, maybe it will even help some of you that have been having issues lately. Remember, if you think you have a gluten intolerance contact your doctor first!