As the words celiac and gluten free are becoming a part of our daily jargon, it seemed important to clear up some misconceptions about this disease and food intolerance. While it seems this topic is just another diet fad, the truth is anything but a trend.
More than three million Americans live with celiac disease. Those with celiac experience something very different than those with sensitivity to gluten. Celiac is an auto-immune condition that causes damage to the small intestine and causes poor absorption of nutrients. The issues occur as the body’s reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley). USANA Health Sciences’ naturopathic physician Dr. Nancy Steely explains that those with celiac disease (CD) experience a wide range of symptoms that commonly include muscle cramping, diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, skin rashes, and joint pain.
Dr. Steely clarifies why CD symptoms vary by person. As with all auto-immune disorders, the body attacks its own cells and therefore symptoms appear differently for each person. Due to this, many go misdiagnosed. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness reports that people typically go 6-10 years before they receive a correct diagnosis of their symptoms. Read Full Post >
There’s a lot of talk right now about the gluten-free diet and weight loss. Whether it’s the latest celebrity claiming the pounds are falling off while avoiding gluten or discussions on blogs and Facebook, weight loss is tied to a gluten free lifestyle. For those of us who have been gluten-free for a while due to celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder, weight loss and gluten-free don’t always go together.
When I first went gluten-free 5 or 6 years ago, I lost 35 pounds. I ate a naturally gluten-free diet that omitted all gluten-containing foods, with very few gluten-free replacements. At the time, there weren’t many good gluten-free breads or baked goods to tempt me and the availability of gluten-free flours was limited.
Back when I was walking nearly every day to help with the swelling and discomfort of my gluten reactions, the pounds did literally melt off. Then I started a gluten-free blog and started sampling all the processed gluten-free foods that were flooding the market and sitting at a desk working on my computer. I gained back the weight and then some more. This is a typical scenario for a lot of gluten-free people. As our intestines heal and our body starts absorbing nutrients and calories, there is a tendency for those with celiac disease to gain some weight. If we aren’t careful about the food choices we make when we replace the gluten-full foods in our diet, we can be adding lots of sugar and fat and white processed starches, gluten-free flours and, of course, pounds. Read Full Post >
Gluten-free diets have caught mainstream attention in a big way, but it’s also a subject that’s widely misunderstood. Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, barley and rye, which means that gluten is also in any product that contains these grains as an ingredient.
Choosing a college can be tough when you have celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity. If your child is required to live in the dorms, you need to know what to look for in the dining hall to determine if a school really can meet your gluten-free needs. Here are some tips from our experience sending two gluten-free teens off to small liberal arts colleges.
Despite the good reputations in the food service world of both dining services, we found a wide variation in knowledge and follow through in serving gluten-free meals in both colleges. Look for dining services with training programs within the corporation and look out for programs that are researched and implemented by the chef or manager on duty.
Beware if you have new a new chef or dining manager. They will be getting an entire program up and running at the start of the school year and special diet meals will fall thorough the cracks and off their radar.
Smaller colleges are not always safer. With a much smaller gluten-free population to feed, some schools may have little to no experience even serving gluten-free meals. Ask very pointed, specific questions of everyone when asking about gluten-free meals. Watch the servers, the students and the kitchen preparation to see if you can spot weak links and poor kitchen practices.
Get everything in writing and consider registering with the Students with Disabilities Office at your school. This will protect you and your investment once you do choose a school. Read Full Post >
“Gluten-free diet linked to increased depression and eating disorders” – theheadline immediately caught my attention. As I read the first article, I was theorizing in my head about the chemical impact of gluten and carbohydrates in our brains and bodies, as well as the mental strain of adhering to a strict diet and the extra effort it requires. I thought a correlation between depression and a gluten-free lifestyle was possible, I thought about all my friends and family members living gluten-free, and I started digging for the actual research to investigate the experimental method used. What I found was that the alarming headline was taken from partial statements made by an experimenter, but the entire findings were not taken into account.
Unfortunately, this can be common in the news media and blogosphere where the focus is more on attention-grabbing sound bites rather than in-depth analysis and education. It is my sincere hope that everything I write (here and elsewhere) and everything you read at DietsInReview is researched and thought out, and we are not jumping to conclusions or publishing alarmist headlines simply because it is provocative.
In this case, the research found that those women with celiac disease (177 surveyed) who were most compliant with a gluten-free diet reported “increased vitality, lower stress, decreased depressive symptoms, and greater overall emotional health,” according to Josh Smyth of Penn State. This sounds like the opposite of the alarmist headline that grabbed my attention. The caveat is that those surveyed, even those managing celiac disease well through a gluten-free lifestyle, reported “higher rates of stress, depression, and a range of issues clustered around body dissatisfaction, weight and shape” compared to the general population.” Read Full Post >