Fuzz or real? All about gluten intollerance
Updated: Sep 25, 2018
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly seen or heard many people saying they are reducing their gluten or giving it up altogether. In some cases, people actually have allergies or a condition called Celiac disease, which is causing gluten to make them ill. Others simply have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten. The latter is more common, so that is what we are going to talk about.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein that is found in a variety of different grains. Many people think about wheat as being gluten, but it can also be found in rye, oats, and barley. The gluten protein is made up of other proteins, including glutenin and gliadin. These are often more closely linked to people that have negative reactions in the form of a gluten allergy or Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition of the small intestine. The symptoms are slightly different when comparing an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten as opposed to actually being allergic to it.
Common Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
When you have an intolerance to gluten, your symptoms can range from mild discomfort and abdominal pain, to some of the more common signs of being allergic to gluten. First of all, you might find that you have abdominal discomfort or indigestion when you consume foods with a lot of wheat or rye. There are actually many regular food items that contain wheat or other grains, that you would otherwise think are harmless. You may eat a simple sandwich with wheat bread and suddenly find that your stomach is hurting and you might even have diarrhea or nausea. Some other common symptoms include headaches, skin changes, and allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.
If you are found to have a gluten sensitivity, you don’t have to completely give up all gluten, but you do need to decrease it as much as possible. The more foods you eat with gluten, the worse you are going to end up feeling. They might not cause serious illness like if you had Celia disease, but gluten can definitely make you feel ill. If you want those stomach aches and migraines to go away, stay away from foods with wheat, rye, or barley. This includes most breads, grains, pasta, and a wide range of packaged and processed foods. You should try to stick to a diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein like meat.
Tips For Transitioning to a Gluten-Free Diet
Making the transition to a gluten-free diet is one of the hardest parts of realizing you have a gluten intolerance. You want to feel better, cure your headaches, and improve your indigestion by changing your diet, but actually doing it can be a bit of a culture shock. Many of the foods you eat on a daily basis will no longer be allowed and you need to become a stickler for reading ingredients of everything you eat. Here are some tips for transitioning to a gluten-free diet.
Start With Your Favorite Gluten-Free Foods
When you are making the transition to a gluten-free diet, you should first consider what foods you already eat that will still be allowed. This makes it easier for you because you can rely on some of your classic staples that you enjoy eating on a regular basis without feeling like you are missing out on anything. For example, most vegetables and fruits you eat already can still be enjoyed, such as lemon in your water, oranges as a snack, and bananas with your breakfast. Most meat can also be eaten, though you need to be careful with processed meat, such as packaged deli meat.
Buy Gluten-Free Substitute Products
While you eventually want to start making more food items from scratch, the transitional period can be quite a challenge. During this time, it is helpful to find some gluten-free substitutes of the foods you can no longer have. For example, you can usually find your favorite type of bread, biscuits, cookies, crackers, and cereal in a gluten-free version. It used to be that only health food stores sold substitutes that were much more expensive than the standard form of these foods, but since gluten-free is becoming more popular, it is easier to find these food items in the supermarket.
Find Friends Who Want to Join You
It can be hard when you are doing this all alone. Try to find friends or family members that also want to reduce their gluten intake. This makes it easier when going through recipe books together, swapping ideas for meals, and going out to restaurants. If you have kids, try to transition them to a gluten-free diet as well so you don’t have the temptations in your household. Get your family together to come up with delicious gluten-free meals together.