Blogging Through the Alphabet: G is for Gluten Free
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I've posted before about going gluten free in an attempt to help out with the fibromyalgia and migraine pain that I have. I've been gluten free since May, and I definitely can see improvements in the way I feel. When people find out I'm going gluten free, they often ask questions. I am not an expert by any means. This journey is still rather new to me. But if your're curious or if you've thought of going gluten free yourself, here are a few answers about eating gluten free.
What is gluten?
"Gluten is basically the protein content of wheat (including spelt, semolina and durum) barley, rye and triticale (a hybrid)." If you've ever worked with bread dough and noticed it's "stretchiness", the gluten provides that elasticity.
Why do you avoid gluten?
I avoid gluten because I've discovered by trial and error a gluten sensitivity. There are many, many different symptoms that can indicate a gluten sensitivity. Autism, eczema, fatigue, pain, bowel problems, sleep disorders- all of these and many more have been linked to gluten sensitivity. In my case, I suspected that some of the pain I experience from fibromyalgia and migraines might be linked to gluten.
Some people avoid gluten because they have Celiac Disease. In people with Celiac Disease, gluten actually damages their small intestine because the gluten causes antibodies to attack the small intestine.
What foods contain gluten?
Any product made of wheat, barley or rye contains gluten. Most commonly people think of bread and pasta, but gluten is actually "hidden" in many things we eat. If you truly have Celiac Disease, you have to be super careful. I use a list from the Celiac.com website as a reference when I come across a new ingredient.
If you don't really have Celiac Disease, can't you just cheat every now and then?
I have found that eating even a small amount of gluten affects my pain levels. Also, from what I've read, in people with gluten sensitivity, the body builds up antibodies against the gluten. Reaction to these is what cause the pain. So even small amounts of gluten or cheating every once in a while will cause your body to continue producing the antibodies.
So, what do you eat?
Thankfully there are many foods now that are gluten free. Food manufactures have become much more sensitive to food allergens over the years. The main thing is to read, read, read the ingredients. Some foods are naturally gluten free. The main thing to be wary of is foods that are highly processed. The more ingredients a food has, the more likely there will be gluten"hidden" in one of them.
There are also some great gluten free flours available. I'm learning more and more about using those to bake and to prepare our main meals.
Why do all the gluten free cakes look flat and dense?
If you remember, gluten is what we said provides the elasticity to the dough. When you substitute other flours that don't have gluten it's more difficult to get a fluffy cake. As I experiment and read gluten free cookbooks, I'm learning how to combine flours to get better results. But it is true that gluten free cakes and baked goods will have a different texture.
I tried to go gluten free once, but I couldn't even make it a week. I was grouchy and irritable and starving. How could I ever go gluten free?
I've read about this also. Gluten is actually addictive to your body. When you first quit eating it, you crave it because your body is breaking an addiction, going through withdrawal. If you "cheat" at all, it only makes the process worse because you are dragging it out and never really breaking the addiction.
It took me about two week before I felt like I wasn't starving all the time. Now, six months later, there is rarely anything I miss. Occasionally a pastry calls my name. But, I've found ways to get many of those goodies gluten free, so it's all good.
If you're thinking that eating gluten free might help you, try it. It isn't as daunting as it first seems. Chances are that in the process of eating gluten free, you'll start noticing other ingredients and you'll eat less processed, more natural foods over all. And that's always a good thing.
Here are some websites that might help you learn more about gluten and eating gluten free:
Celiac Foundation- This site has information about Celiac Disease but also about living a gluten free life.
The Gluten Free Chef- This has information about cooking and eating gluten free and has many recipes and lists of safe and unsafe foods
Simply Gluten Free- My sister (who does have Celiac Disease) led me to this site that is filled with information about gluten free living.
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Blogging Through the Alphabet: G is for Gluten Free Reviewed by Leah Courtney on 2:33:00 PM Rating: