What is it like to live on a gluten-free diet?
I get this question a lot. For anyone out there that might be considering a gluten-free diet, I do have a few answers to the common questions. So let’s begin… I hope you find this helpful…
Q: What is gluten?
A: Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat.
Q: What can you eat?
A: We can eat the same things as everyone else. I avoid food items that are made with breading, malt, or flour. There are certain items that I have to avoid like regular pizza, deserts, breakfast pastries, etc. Sometimes it can be hard, but I’ll touch on that later.
Q: Is it difficult to travel?
A: Yes and no. I have learned to find “something in nothing”. I admit that it can be tricky to eat at a bar or airport, but it’s not entirely impossible. If there are not gluten-free options, I will either opt for a bunless burger, salad with protein (like grilled chicken), or just plain french fries (non-breaded, of course). While traveling, I also pack nonperishable snacks in my suitcase; like almonds, cashews, craisins, gluten-free granola bars, and more.
Q: Is a gluten-free diet just one of the latest fads?
A: No. Unfortunately there are individuals that have a condition of the small intestines called Celiac Disease, which prevents them from consuming even the smallest amount of gluten. There are individuals, like myself, that experience a gluten-intolerance – it won’t necessarily cause damage to my digestive system but it does cause irritation, migraines and muscle pain. Other individuals that chose to eat gluten-free may enjoy the benefits of less bloating and fullness. Some people feel that it is a healthy option for their blood sugar levels, cholesterol, cardiovascular, and overall health.
Q: What is with all the “gluten-free” labels on food?
A: In my opinion, Americans are becoming less tolerant of what we consume and more aware of the benefits of eating gluten-free. Truthfully, gluten in LARGE amounts is not healthy. Somehow this has triggered a response from the food industry. I’ve encountered a number of people that are irritated with this… but really, what is the harm?
Q: I’m considering a gluten-free diet. How do I order food at a restaurant?
A: This question makes me laugh because I am still trying to figure this out too. Some restaurants are really good about advertising gluten-free options for food – while others say nothing at all on the menu. I’ve learned what to avoid and what to request. My suggestion would be to let your server know that you have a “gluten intolerance or allergy” right away. Some servers are super helpful while others can be intrusive to figure out the severity of your diet restriction. Be prepared for some extra questions – this has caught me off-guard several times.
Q: Can you grow out of this intolerance?
A: Sometimes. I have known a few people that are able to eat gluten again by slowly reintroducing it into their diet. Some women actually experience less of an intolerance after giving birth. Must be nice!
Q: How do you tell people that you cannot consume regular food items that contain gluten?
A: Just put it out there. Having diet restrictions is not a new thing. Sometimes people at work will offer me a pastry or desert, and I will usually say something like “Thanks, I wish I could eat that” or “If only I could enjoy the wheat“. No one seems to take offense.
Q: Do you feel better?
A: YES! The difference in changing my diet has been amazing. As you may have read, I suffer from a disease called Endometriosis (Endo). Women with Endo experience issues with digestion in addition to the pain from growing lesions in the body. Gluten and soy can cause extra irritation on the lesions and intestines. Cutting out wheat doesn’t take away all the pain but it does help with less brain fog, immune issues, and abdominal pressure. I always recommend a gluten-free diet to friends recently diagnosed with Endo. It may benefit people with other diseases or conditions; like Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Lupus and more.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by email or leave a comment below. Thank you!
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