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05 August 2005

what the heck is gluten anyway?


chickpea salad, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

Many of you have been writing me emails and leaving comments. Thanks everyone; keep it coming. (And tell your friends about this site.) Most of you probably can't eat gluten already. But some of you have been asking: what the heck is gluten, anyway?

Well, let me give you a hint. It’s nowhere to be found in this photograph. There is no gluten in chickpeas, fresh carrots, Italian parsley, summer tomatoes, or green beans. If I had found any goat cheese in the refrigerator this evening, I would have tossed some of that in. There is no gluten in goat cheese. Or most cheeses. Just blue cheese, and sometimes gorgonzola (can you guess why?). If leftover roasted chicken or thinly sliced beef or smoked salmon had been lurking my refrigerator, I certainly would have thrown those in. No gluten in meat or fish. I thought about putting in some of the blueberries sitting on my counter this afternoon, left over when my darling nephew asked me, “Eat blueberries? Do you love blueberries, Shauna?” Yes I do, Elliott. But somehow, blueberries didn’t feel like the right choice, even though fresh fruit never has gluten in it. You probably can’t see them, but there’s meyer lemon grapeseed oil and fig balsamic vinegar in this salad. No gluten in them. This was my spontaneous, gorgeous gluten-free dinner, inspired by this site. (I’m enthralled and a little obsessed by the plethora of fabulous food blogs out there. Go exploring with some of the links to the right. You won’t be disappointed.)

So what is gluten?

Gluten is the elastic protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Its elasticity is why French bread holds together, why angel-food cakes rise so high, and why H and H bagels in New York are so wonderfully doughy. Gluten is the glue that holds together baked goods and pasta. In fact, gluten comes from the same Latin root as glue. Think of gluten as the glue of wheat, rye, and barley.

(And if you want a far more technical version of this explanation, click here.)

Other starches, like rice, corn, and potatoes, also have proteins that make them starchy. In fact, some technical experts will call those proteins gluten as well. But that’s a misnomer. Or maybe just too simple. Technically, the elastic proteins in wheat, rye, and barley are called gliadin and glutenin. Gluten is sometimes used as the umbrella term for all elastic proteins in grains and starchy vegetables. This scares some celiacs into not eating potatoes or rice. If this is you, breathe easy. The “glutens” of rice and corn are not the gluten of wheat, rye, and barley. This is why they react differently when you try to bake with them. In other words, this is why a cake made with only brown rice flour falls flat on its ass. (And really, it just wouldn’t taste that good either.)

Gluten (or, to be accurate, the gluten that damages the small intestines of people with celiac disease, and makes life uncomfortable for people with gluten sensitivity) is also part of the genetic structure of spelt, durum, semonlina, kamut, couscous, and triticale. I’ve never seen triticale in my life, and therefore, it’s pretty easy to avoid. I love couscous, but I can live without it. Spelt and kamut are ancient grains, wheat in its natural form, before it was hybridized. But they still contain gluten. This means that people who are allergic to wheat but fine with gluten can eat spelt. (I know. I can hardly keep track of all the allergen categories either.) If you can’t eat gluten, beware: hundreds of products advertise themselves as “Wheat Free!” but that doesn’t necessarily mean gluten free. Barley can be dangerous. Almost all beers are made from barley hops, of course, or use barley in the brewing. Anything malted comes from barley. So does some caramel coloring. Some soy milks or rice milks have barley in them. Root beer has gluten in it, except for this glorious exception. Still, wheat is where you’ll find gluten 90% of the time. This is why the FDA recently called for comments and scientific suggestions "...
to help the agency to define and permit the voluntary use on food labeling of the term 'gluten-free.'" Eventually, maybe by the year 2010, the government will mandate that companies list wheat on their labels.

That will be a relief, if an incomplete one. Because giving up gluten would be infinitely easier if it just meant never having a pastrami sandwich on rye. But, believe it or not, the pastrami is as likely to make me as sick as the rye bread. Why? Gluten is hidden in thousands of products, in places you would never think to suspect. Mass-processed meats are often made with gluten, to fill out the salami or make the turkey seem plumper. I bet you never guessed that meat would have wheat in it. Most popsicles have gluten in them. Did you know that? Gluten is often used as a thickener in commercial products. Think about the flour paste you made in elementary school. Remember how thick and viscous it grew as you stirred it? Now, imagine that in popsicles. If you make your own, they end up fairly thin, just frozen juice. A good, old-fashioned popsicle requires real concentration and sucking powers, because it lasts and lasts. In most commercial popsicles, and a hundred other packaged foods, “natural flavors” means gluten.

Other places gluten can hide:

--modified food starch
--MSG
--lecithins
--textured vegetable protein (think veggie burgers, or any fake meat)
--emulsifiers
--soy sauce (most of it contains wheat; you have to use wheat-free tamari instead)
--prescription and over-the-counter drugs, even some vitamins

And remember, we’re not just talking about those ingredients in pure form. Who eats handfuls of modified food starch? But take a look at the labels of the foods in your kitchen right now, and search for it. It’s in everything. If you’re trying to avoid gluten, you may reach for some healthy, organic baked tofu at the local co-op. That’s going to be good for you, right? Well, about the tenth ingredient on the side of the package is soy sauce. If you don’t look, and you eat the tofu, you’re sick for two days. You can even get gluten by licking your envelope, because the glue on it might contain wheat.

It grows worse. I have learned, through horrible trial and error, that food companies are legally required to tell you everything that is in food. (Except that no food package ever says: CONTAINS GLUTEN. You have to decipher that yourself.) But food companies are not required to tell you what is on food. Anything packaged that comes in individual pieces--candy, frozen foods, corn tortillas; french fries; the cashews I ate the other night--could be dusted in flour just before being stuffed in the package. Why? Because we live in America, and we like everything to look pretty. Goodness forbid that two pieces of chocolate stick together.

About a month ago, I was at dinner at my dear friend Francoise’s. She went to great lengths to cook me a gluten-free meal, including using different cutting boards for the bread and salad. All so I wouldn’t grow sick. At the end of the meal, she offered me some chocolate-covered espresso beans from Starbucks. I was prepared. I read the label. They listed tapioca dextrin, instead of just maltodextrin. (Whatever the heck dextrin is, sometimes it can be made of wheat.) Everything seemed copacetic. I ate two. Half an hour later, at her daughter’s piano concert, I felt that now-familiar feeling. Headache. Flush. Full stomach. Overwhelming sleepiness. I rushed home for the inevitable two days of feeling lousy.

And I suffered for two days because of the infintesimal amount of wheat that had been dusted on two chocolate-covered espresso beans.

You see how insidioius this can be?

So that’s the story of gluten. It’s microscopic and elastic. It’s hard to see and more powerful than I ever thought possible. There’s a real power, for me, in knowing just what it is, and how to avoid it. As I have written in here, almost every day, I have never felt better in my entire life than I do today.

Still, living this way is a detective job. Where's my film noir lighting?

62 Comments:

At 11:22 PM, Anonymous naiah said...

Tonight, at dinner, I kid you not, my husband up and said to me "sometimes I think you have celiac disease" when we were talking about my food allergies. He doesn't know about your site or anything. That was wild. I'm listening even more closely now.

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Shauna said...

Naiah--

we should talk. I've just met you, and heard about the various medical questions, but I've wondered about celiac too. I hesitated to say anything, because I don't want to look at everything with gluten-free eyes. But still....

Let's talk.

 
At 7:01 AM, Blogger Mandy said...

I suppose eating gluten-free could be seen as an adventure, eh? That's a positive way to look at what otherwise seems troublesome and restrictive.

Even reading about gluten makes me crave bread. Boy, I love that stuff.

 
At 11:38 AM, Anonymous jeanette said...

I just found this website and I cried. After all these past years of being sick and depressed with no one understanding nor finding any doctor who could help me, I found out just a few weeks ago what my problem is. Gluten! Who could have guessed. It's nice to know there are others who know and can sympathize. I'm keeping this on my favorites. My poor, dear, patient husband couldn't figure me out and now he comes home from work to a cheerful wife every night.

 
At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the deal with ingesting some gluten and it bringing on the feelings of "overwhelming sleepiness"? I experience that, but figured it was just me...you know, like the feeling you get after eatting too much turkey on Thanksgiving!

 
At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other day I shared with my daughter the possibility of her having Celiac disease. Gluten being the culprit I look in the cupboards for products with wheat or gluten. I discovered that most everything had wheat listed. So I needed to know exactly what gluten was, which lead to your site. Thank you for an informative and light hearted approach to this dilema. I hope to be a help to my daughter and grandson who has been diagnosed lactose intolerant. Now I read that soy products have gluten.

 
At 3:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My friend is gluten tolerant and i was just surfing the web when i found this site. I am making some lemonade for school and I came across this site and I was so relieved because as you can imagine its rather hard work always trying to find something without gluten in it but my friend is a really good friend and I hate seeing her always sit out when other people bring things. 'm really glad i found this site, but I was wondering, do oranges or lemons have gluten in them???
cya!!!

 
At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I have had Celiac Disease for about 9 months and it has been a real struggle figuring out what I can and cannot eat. I also started to develop seizures or seizure like activity. I was wondering if that was contributed to the Celiac Disease.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger David Ryan Kennerly said...

Re: seizure activity. I am allergic to wheat (not gluten intolerant) and I had nocturnal "panic attacks" (for lack of a better description) before I discovered my allergy. Is this similar to "seizure activity"? Great blog.

 
At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Daniel said...

My wife Jessica was diagnosed with Celiac in 2005. Since then we have bounced around the supermarket trying to find products without gluten. Sadly as most of us know most things have gluten in it in some form or another.

The other day we were watching the food network and saw your plug on the power of food. My wife teared up and looked at me....to quote what she said..

"Honey..............See...Im normal"

My eyes swelled with tears and we both hugged one another and had a good laugh and cry. Thank you for your hard work and keep it up. There are those of us out there who truly appreciate the efforts you have gone through.

Thanks again.

 
At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your detailed and easy to understand information on gluten. I found out four years ago, after a lifetime of agonizing stomach problems, that I am gluten intolerant. My life changed. I thought I was crazy. I want to show your article to my husband because you explain it so much better than I can. Let's hope it helps some other poor saps out there!

Randi

 
At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fell upon your site and I'll be very careful how I shop and what I eat, even when I dine with frieds. Just want to say "thank you" for all the hard work. You'll forever be 'Blessed"

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Love and Light said...

Hello! I love your sight. I am currently a baker at a gluten free bakery. I was wondering if you have tried our productWe make scones, cookies and bread, by Angeline's Bakery, based out of Sisters Oregon, but now we make out of Portland. Our bakery doesn't have a trace of wheat in it. It is pretty amazing!

 
At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking for fake meats and have found one place on line most of their TVP and lobster and crab meats seem to be gluten and wheat free at http://www.vegecyber.com/

 
At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello,
I love your site im on a gluten free and wheat deit atm because the docos think i have IBS. But, im now thinking i may have Celiac because my syptoms are very familer. Ive been sick for a long time.
thx for your site.

 
At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maltodextrin should be explained that the majority of it in the US is gluten free. Imported products with maltodextrin are the ones that need to be worried about.

if you call many companies, such as kraft or hormel, they will also confirm that they list all their gluten containing products under the name "wheat" (it's the law now to list wheat) They include any gluten from oats, rye and barley and they have had their vinegar tested for gluten and it contains none.

just some stuff to "chew on". lol. Literally. LOL!

Thanks for your gravy recipe. I plan on trying it today on Thanksgiving.

 
At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

after 44 years of being sick i now can begin to live a life with less sickness. i was just told that i have celiac, because i have been overweight ALL my life the doctors didn't think to test me. thank goodness for the shrink!!!!
i am going to need alot of help to learn what i can and can't have so this site will be a daily visit for me

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger ByTheBay said...

That picture makes me hungry!

But just so you know, in the US gluten can no longer hide in modified food starch... All food starch must be labelled "Modified food starch (wheat)" or "Modified wheat starch" as of the 1/06 food labelling law changes. If it doesn't say wheat, it is made of corn (in the US, at least).

 
At 6:01 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I was recently been diagnosed with Celiacs after I got so sick I was vomitting up almost everything I ate I even ended up having ulcers and tears in my esophogus which caused me vomit to up blood. I ended up malnourished, over tired and anemic. Since I have been on a gluten free diet I am feeling a million times better but I am having trouble getting the nutrients I need becuase I have also been a vegetarian for ten years and most of the meat alternatives I used to eat have gluten in them. Is it possible to be a celiac and a vegetarian?

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger tiny said...

tiny

are you aware that there are some gluten intolerant people who are also intollerant to corn and lactose. If you think wheat is in everything you should try corn. It is even in jam if you can imagine.

 
At 12:22 AM, Blogger Mike said...

It was the gluten in quadro-triticale that killed my tribbles. /sigh

J.T. Kirk

 
At 10:41 AM, Blogger amyleah said...

Thanks for the site. After 33 years of feeling horrible, I finally found out about being gluten intolerant. My husband said it was all in my head. However, since I started the south beach phase one diet, I have felt wonderful, all because of being gluten free. They thought I had ibs and chronic fatigue. Thanks!

amy
www.soycandleshome.com

 
At 5:44 AM, Blogger charleen said...

I am diagnosed with liche sclerosis and read a gluten free diet might help. have you heard from anyone else with a similar diagnosis?

 
At 3:46 AM, Blogger Renee said...

I have been experiencing long periods of tiredness i am constantly bloated and for some odd reason started receiving headaches. I have not visited a doctor instead i went to the local organic shop to ask for some advice. I am currently on a gluten free diet to see if my symptoms are linked with celiac disease. I have only been only been testing the waters for two week and i have started to notice a positive difference in the body. I do not know if this is due to reducing (i say that as gluten is hidden in so many foods) gluten, or because i have through investigating labels eliminated such additives as preservative 202. I look at celiac disease with a positive attitude for it gives us the opportunity to examine what it is exactly that we are eating.

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Dear Shauna,
I had just written a really long comment which got erased when I signed up for google blogging! So,I will just say that you have given me new strength and determination to adjust to living gluten-free. I have systemic lupus which was diagnosed in 1988 and a host of other things,but finding out I had celiac a year and a half ago (at age 49)has changed my life,as has your blog and book. I just got your book yesterday and I read it almost in one sitting. This is my first time on a blog and I thinkyours is great! Now I am inspired to cook again,and really be an advocate for myself (something it has always been hard for me to do),to nurture myself and be sure I don't ingest gluten! You are an inspiring writer and your attitude of "yes" is one I admire and will adopt. I have two myspaces: www.myspace.com/jeanneband and www.myspace.com/jeannesobvious. Please check them out if you'd like to-the name of my band is Jeanne and the Obvious. It is a classic rock,blues,funk and R and B band that I started with my husband John on bass and my brother Tom (with whom I am very close,as you are with your brother),on guitar. I sing lead vocals and play keyboards and percussion. I had been a foreign language teacher for years but had to retire from full-time work in 1995 due to all my various illnesses,so I interpret- using my Russian- part-time now in our local court. We live out on the end of LI,NY. Thanks for the great blog and book! I am now going to Gluten free Mall online to get some provisions to make some of your recipes. Thanks again. You are making ahuge difference-I cried when i read your book,as it sounds like you are a kindred soul.

 
At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a new author, if you haven't, please consider getting yourself brought on as a guest on mainstream TV, eg on Oprah, or the Daily Show. What might get their attention are physician statements that this is one of the most horrendously underdiagnosed diseases in the world - hence in a rare position to benefit much more than average from spotlight coverage. I hope you do some major interviews, if you haven't!

 
At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 weeks ago It was confirmed I have Celiac disease. I too live in Seattle and reading your blog and book has saved me this holiday season. When there were cookies and gravy flowing I was hiding in a corner reading your book. I was mis-diagnosed by my OB/Gyn in Nov as depression and I refused to go on antidepressants. A dear friend recommended a Nautropathic doctor she caught it in one 1hour visit and a blood test! I am so glad to be on the road of healing, and learn from your experiences. Thanks So much!

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger Colleen said...

Since I found out that Im allergic to wheat, and went on a gluten free diet, I have actually lost some weight in a healthy way and I can breath alot better. I find that most people don't understand the imortantce of me not being able to eat wheat, and they don't get the cross contamination factor either. I am going to show everyone I know this article, hoping that this will help others understand my problem. Thank you so much.
ps...My daughter reads all lables befor I eat anything.

 
At 10:31 AM, Blogger moe said...

Hello,
Is gluten in cream cheese?
I have been gluten-free for 10 years because my oldest son is autistic and has done very well.
I have a cut-out cookie recipe that calls for cream cheese and your recipe to cut-outs require margarine and I am wondering if I could substitute the margarine with cream cheese.
Thanx, Moe

 
At 5:39 PM, OpenID tannermiddleton said...

Hi Shauna --

Great blog.

You may wish to emend the beginning of this post, as MANY types of cheeses contain gluten, and a newly-diagnosed person with celiac disease could be easily misled.

For example: cottage cheese often contains thickeners made from wheat gluten. But far more insidious is the cheddar, American, Monterey Jack, or other cheese (pretty much anything that's orange) that has the word "annato" written among its ingredients. That orange color -- sometimes it's just added to intensify the yellow -- is wheat-gluten-based.

I'll look forward to reading your blogs and recipes. Best wishes to you on the success of your book!

 
At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Wendy said...

Thanks so much for your book. My sister-in-law is sensitive to gluten and gave it up, then her mom gave it up in solidarity. As they learned more, they encouraged me to give it up due to some suspicious symptoms I have. I refused, knowing that I need whole grains--I had no idea until I read your book that I could still get great-tasting, nutritious whole grains without gluten! I tried your recipe for popped amaranth cereal this morning and the smell was, as you said, amazing. I can't wait to make it again tomorrow morning:-) Anyway, thanks! Reading your book was the first time I wanted to go out and really make dinner, from scratch. I never really questioned the assumption we grew up with that food comes from a box and that you can play with your food. I'm trying to really enjoy my food and use more fresh ingredients. My husband and I are having fun making dinner instead of it being just another chore to accomplish. I do feel better although, even if I'm not reacting to gluten, I'm enjoying food so much more. Thanks so much!

Wendy

 
At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I've been gluten free for 6 weeks now, after suffering from digestive problems for around three years - running to the toilet after eating, bad ulcers on my tongue, tiredness, bloating etc. Doctors told me it was stress, so I put myself on a gluten free diet over the Christmas holidays and I feel so much better!

But since returning to uni, some symptoms have come back - mainly in the morning, I thought it might be lactose - and doctors think I have IBS. I've been dairy free and gluten free for a week, which has helped but hasn't solved my problems.

Sigh. Any thoughts anyone? I really thought I had my problems solved going gluten free, which is incredibly frustrating.

 
At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Eve. I have been diagnosed with celiac for a couple months now, and have realized I am very sensitive, to the point where i am cross-contamination allergic, and cannot eat vinager because it goes through what my nutritionist called a "wheat process"

are there any vinagers i CAN have??

thanks.

Eve

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger Tiffany said...

Shauna, would you be able to tell me what the GF root beer is? We are big root beer fans in my house and after I read this post, I realized why I have been feeling 'glutenated' recently! Thanks!

 
At 3:02 AM, Blogger Jules said...

Hi -- I hear mixed answers, once and for all is oatmeal gluten free or not?? Thanks, Jules
PLEASE ADVISE!!!

 
At 6:22 AM, Anonymous michelle said...

I'm so happy I can't stop crying. I have had unexplained, undiagnosable pains as far back as I can remember. I was adopted so no reason for them to suspect . Figured all this out for myself the last 4 days and am so overwhelmed ! Last year I cut out lactose and that helped for a bit but was still getting sick . Read a label on something that made me sick and saw msg and well here I am . I havent worked for years because I never feel good , my boyfriend thinks I'm a hypochondriac and I didn't know what to think ! He is so hopeful is amusing but people such as yourselves have made me see I can be happy so Thank You !

 
At 4:50 AM, Anonymous laniebee said...

I love your site! My 6 year old daughter was dianosed as having a gluten sensitivity about a year ago after many allergy tests turned up nothing. The poor child was sick everyday until we changed her diet. Her doctor says this runs in families and my mother definitely fits the bill- I have a mild seizure disorder with wicked headaches. I have decided to go gluten free myself to see if it makes a difference- Thanks for the great info!

 
At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Angela said...

I also have recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I am also Diabetic. Imagine having two food disorders. I have just gotten finished crying, because I am so overwhelmed about what I can have and what I can't have. I drank a diet wild cherry pepsi soda Friday and was sick for almost two days. I didn't know caramel flavoring had gluten in it. I have two diets I have to adhere to and it's so frustrating and overwhelming. When I've had an attack, because I've eaten something that had hidden gluten in it, I not only get sick, but I feel so tired, lethargic, and keep a headache. I was misdiagnosed four years ago by a Gastroentologist with IBS. He even performed a colonoscopy on me. My sisters bosses three kids all have Celiac Disease and told me to ask my Gastroentologist to check me for it. He just dismissed it and said mostly people of European descent had that disease and never checked me for it. People don't understand why I am so tired and sometimes dismiss it for laziness and I get so upset, because I can't seem to make them understand "I am really just tired". I am a basketball coach, a teacher, and very athletic. So laziness just isn't in my vocabulary. I just don't feel like doing anything anymore eventhough I constantly push myself. My fourteen year old is very frustrated, because she feels everything I fix is gluten free, but a lot of the food I fix especially the meats haven't really changed except the type of flour I use if I fry it. I just needed to type this blog, because maybe someone can give me some encouraging words. I am starting to get a headache right now so I am going to end this, but this site has been a blessing. I want to thank everyone for sharing.

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Michele said...

What an incredibly informative post! We are pleased to have it included in this week's FoodieView Recipe Roundup. I have several friends who are gluten-intolerant and have been seriously considering cutting gluten out of my own diet (or at least drastically reducing my intake). This post answers many of my questions on the topic. Thanks so much!

 
At 8:02 AM, Blogger Anna said...

Thanks for that post, this is all new to me. My daughter's pediatrician said she was allergic to wheat so that is different from being allergic to gluten. This is very complicated.

For years she's suffered from constant stomach pain and we never knew why. I thought it was lactose intollorence but as it turns out she's also allergic to cows milk and egg whites too.

I've got lots to learn. She's only 9 and we're hoping she'll grow out of these allergies if we avoid the wheat, dairy and egg whites.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Tango Goddess said...

Great website! I am a non-cook who started cooking really because a friend of mine here in ARgentina has celiac disease, and there is hardly anything sweet yummy for her to eat here. So, I'm whipping up treats for her left and right. She's very grateful! I'll bookmark your page!!! Thanks!

 
At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello, thanks for your blog. The doc think I've got CD and I'm just waiting for the reults.

You've given me loads of great info if the tests come back positive.

Thanks Again

 
At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Alexis said...

I am so glad to talk to other people with the similar intolerance. Although I do not have Celiac Disease, I have been crippled by gluten for two years. I had horrible eye pain and migraines to the point where I had to withdrawal from college and was stuck in bed. I have been through four neurologists, with the assumption it had to do with cranial pressure. Well 2 spinal taps and ten different medications not working they wanted to do brain surgery. Not enjoying that idea, I went and got a fifth opinion. My doctor tested me for wheat and gluten allergies and tah-dah! This is my first week off of gluten and the first time in two years I haven’t been huddled in bed with pain!! I get queasy and horrified just thinking about the unnecessary surgery I would've gone through……..I heart your site….keep making us feel normal and happy! xoxoxoxo

 
At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the past few years I have been dealing with lactose intolerance, but recently found that no matter what i ate (dairy or dairy free) I seemed to feel sick. My mom suggested a gluten-intolerance and I have started to look into it. All of my symptoms have fit with those of gluten-intolerance, but i was curious to know if there was anyway other than an elimination diet in order to be certain. Also, if anyone is in a similar situation with dual intolerance, please share any tips you have because I am finding managing this quite difficult.

 
At 3:58 PM, Blogger Chrisandra said...

I have been suffereing from many symptoms in the last 4 years that are related to Fibromyalgia (including IBS). I was recently diagnosed, but am skeptical because I can't believe that I actually have an incurable "disease". I learned about Celiac disease recently and am thinking that may be the case instead. Do you have any ideas on how I can test the possibility of a gluten allergy rather than the more dreary fibro diagnosis?

Thanks a bunch!

 
At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always heard of gluten free products but I never knew why poeple stayed away from them. Thank you so much for sharing this information.My kids and I are on the right path now.

 
At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Maltodextrin was bad? As is Dextrin? Many of the Frito and Lays chips (on the web-site) say Gluten Free; but they contain MaLltodextrin. So how can we be sure?

 
At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just diagnosed with a gluten allergy 3 weeks ago, and am waiting on a Celiac Disease diagnosis. I received your book as a gift. Your story has really touched me and has been such a positive experience(I only have 2 chapters left). It has been really helpful to read about your experiences with your diagnosis (and lack of) throughout your life, as I am experiencing this now. It has been frustrating, and I'm sure it will take a while to adjust to this lifestyle. Just wanted to say thank you!!

 
At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My seventeen year old daughter was diagnosed with H. Pylori and celiac disease in march of this year. She was also anemic on and off for 2 years. She no longer has H. Pylori and after just 3 months her celiac bloodwork came back almost normal. She did have a scope which also showed slight blunting of the villi in the small intestines. Now that her H. Pylori is gone she no longer has any stomach pain of any kind. Even if she accidently consumes gluten. We have no way of knowing until she becomes anemic. I know H. pylori can cause blunting of the villi which causes anemia, but has anyone ever heard of it causing the bloodwork to come back elevated? Our doctor at the University of Michigan doesn't even know. We are in the process of experimenting by letting her eat cross contaminated food to see if her blood worsens. We are just not sure about the diagnosis.

 
At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a celiac, my wife is getting tested and depending on her results we will have our son tested as well (i'm not a blood relative to my son).
When I was diagnosed I felt relieved, I finally figured out the cause to my problems.
Doctors need to get better educated and not just prescribe medication.
Being gluten free doesn't have to be that hard, start eating real food again, start cooking from scratch, it's family fun, you will feel so great once you start to recover and re-discover how delicious food really is. I'm always amazed when people chose funny colored packages that contain a bunch of chemicals for their kids lunches, instead of cutting up a few veggies and some fruit and tossing in a little treat. Your kids will thank you.
Don't rely on your doctor to test you, if he/she refuses to have you tested, find someone who will.
I just borrowed from my local library the book "Life after bread" by Dr.Eydi Bauer. It's a quick one day read, but it explains in plain english how gluten affects your body, most common related diseases and which organs are related.
I didn't believe my wife when she started to cook gluten free, but the day my doctor called me, I stopped eating all gluten cold turkey (as well as caffeine, milk, red wine,etc. to let my gut heal) and my life changed.
Excuse this rant, but I firmly believe in considering celiac sprue as the source of your health problem, before one starts taking random pharmaceuticals find a doctor or GI that knows about celiac and get tested.

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous deb said...

do you know of a comprehensive list of *names* of gluten items that are put into our world? I am also egg intolerant, and learned that *soy lecithin* has the same chemical compounds as egg yolk. it's scarey being gluten intolerant and having DF, as well as several normal food allergies. If you know of a comprehensive list, could you post it? thanks Deb

 
At 8:22 AM, OpenID fitforreallife said...

Great article on exactly what is gluten & how you can eat gluten free! I am gluten intolerant & run a blog that focuses on living optimally fit & well - and while not everyone is required to live gluten-free, regardless of if someone has a gluten issue, I have come to belive over the years that everyone would be helped by removing gluten from their diet. Your body just functions so much more optimally without gluten! If you want to check out some of my optimal fitness & lifestyle tips here is my blog: www.fitforreallife.com Keep up the great site!

 
At 1:37 AM, Anonymous James said...

Hey, My name's James. I have a close friend that is unable to ingest gluten (without getting sick, that is). I really want to help her but have had little understanding of what had it from what didn't. I cried when I read your article. I appreciate the wonderfully clear explanation you've given. It has helped me tremendously. Thank you so much!

 
At 5:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for such great info. I'm researching for my uncle. He is currently having so many problems and I'm trying to find out what's going on with him. This certainly sounds like what he is dealing with. I think allergies runs in our family because so many of us have had health problems. I have been getting NAET treatments for about 3years and have seen significant improvements in chronic fatigue, depression, upper respiratory problems and headaches but still have not been treated for wheat/gluten. My son's dentist said he had enamel hyperplasia and while reseraching that I found that some people with celiac disease are suffering from that as well. I think its time for my son and I to get treated for gluten and I'm going to suggest this to my uncle as well. Living gluten free seems very difficult to deal with but possible with help from sites like this. NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique) can clear the allergies to make life more enjoyable. Its really helped me a lot. Hope this helps. Anna (Houston)

 
At 7:28 AM, Anonymous Cindy J said...

My son is 24 years old and has just been diagnosed with pernicious anemia. He has now been told that he needs a small intestines biopsy to diagnose whether or not he has celiac disease. Being diagnosed with pernicious anemia usually mean celiac disease? Anyone else get diagnosed in this manner?

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger alice said...

I just came here from your link, thinking that this'd be a good read but not expecting new info.

However? I found the culprit for my reaction over the past few days, and it's sitting next to me - my lovely can of diet A&W.

Sigh. Sad to pour it down the drain, but very happy to know what's been mucking up my system.

A detective job indeed. I think I'm going to buy myself a trench coat.

 
At 6:22 PM, Blogger Curtis Copeland said...

Thanks for sharing and your insight. We love your recipes. It is encouraging to hear someone else share the challenges they have had with a gluten-free lifestyle.
Be blessed!

Curtis
Wedding Photography Miami

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Angela said...

I've just found your website while researching celiac disease. Though I've always eaten well and rarely eat processed food, I've never been able to understand why I can't ever loose weight and have such low energy. Around the holidays an aunt told me about her depression subsiding after eliminating gluten. I've been gluten-free for only two-weeks and I can't believe how much better I feel! I have energy and excitement that I don't remember ever feeling. I'm excited to try some of your recipes, it's so wonderful for a website as engaging and sensitive as yours.

Thanks for putting it out there!

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Swimgirl said...

I was just curious what the test is for Celiac's disease... it it a colonoscopy? I'm of course hoping for something a little less uncomfortable. My 19 year old thinks she has it, and I'm wondering if I might also, or just have a sensitivity to gluten. Anyway her doctor referred her to a gastroentologist so we were wondering what he/she would do.

 
At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Luke said...

I have had Lyme disease for about 5-6 years and eating gluten-free helps me tremendously!

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble finding an answer to this... Some sites say Whey is gluten and others say it is just a buy product of cheese... does anybody know?

 
At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Serene said...

Thanks for this post. I know it's an old one, but it's what I needed in order to figure out how to make a gluten-free meal, which I've never attempted before. Whole foods without additives, avoiding wheat/barley/rye. Check. Thanks again.

 

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