Sorting Out The Facts About The Disease, Its Symptoms, And How To Eat Out Safely.
With May being Celiac Disease Awareness Month, there’s no better time to take an in-depth look at this condition. So, just what is celiac disease, how does it differ from wheat allergy, and how can you watch out for hidden gluten, especially when you dine out? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you lead a normal life?
Celiac disease is a hereditary autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Essentially, if an individual with celiac disease eats gluten—a group of proteins found in various cereal grains—the gluten triggers an immune response in the small intestine. Over time, the attacks caused by this sensitivity damage the small intestine and, as a result, block the proper absorption of nutrients. (For the record, there also is a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but as the symptoms are similar we will simply refer to gluten sensitivityas a catch-all phrase for both types throughout the remainder of this blog post.)
Gluten Sensitivity Vs. Wheat Allergy
It’s crucial to make the distinction between gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. While there are certainly some differences between the sources of each condition, essentially both necessitate avoidance of wheat and other cereal grains, such as rye and barley. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity may include:
- bone or joint pain
Wheat allergy symptoms may include:
- life-threatening anaphylaxis reactions
You may not be sure whether you have gluten sensitivity—or some other allergy or intolerance. But, your body does and it will react to eating the wrong foods. But there’s help. ARCpoint Labs offers both food sensitivity and food allergy testing.
Oops, I Ate Gluten
What happens if you eat gluten and you have an issue? You may have noticed that a lot of the above symptoms also can be related to many other causes, so experiencing any of them doesn’t always translate into having a gluten/wheat issue. That being said, if you suspect gluten/wheat as the cause, then it’s probably prudent to begin the screening process to either confirm or rule out celiac disease.
For help recovering from gluten ingestion, there are a number of products on the market designed to alleviate your symptoms. Of course, if you have an anaphylactic reaction, seek medical attention immediately.
Making The Most Of The Gluten-Free Life
Going gluten-free can be challenging, but once you rid your body of the ingredients that are making you sick, life can be normal again—even enjoyable! With the proper knowledge and a bit of homework, you can shop confidently and even enjoy a meal at a friend’s house. The Gluten Intolerance Group (Gluten.org) has a slew of resources, such as cheat sheets for grocery shopping, a printable information card to give to restaurant staff, and more. They also have local support groups so you don’t have to feel you’re going at this alone.
For people with gluten sensitivity, eating out can be quite challenging. Here’s a handy tip list that will make navigating the restaurant scene a bit easier.
And at the supermarket, you may be surprised at all the products containing gluten, such as processed meats and potatoes. But it’s not only food products that contain gluten, but also household cleaners, hand soaps, and more. You might think that’s not important, but understand that gluten sensitivity—like lactose intolerance—occurs along a spectrum. For those severely affected, it’s not just about ingesting gluten … they can’t even be in the same room as an open bag of flour without reacting. Fortunately, The Pickled Beet has compiled a handy list of hidden sources of gluten. Just visit ThePickledBeet.comto get your copy.
We Specialize In Food Sensitivities And Allergies
If you already know you or a loved one has gluten sensitivity, you still can enjoy a wide range of healthy and delicious meals. In fact, The Pickled Beet has a kitchen full of recipes that allow our celiac clients to enjoy their favorite dishes. Even if you have gluten sensitivity, you can have a normal life and enjoy eating.
If you live in South Florida and you’re interested in personalized chef-crafted meals complete a food questionnaire to get started. If you’re outside our service area, but would like a culinary consultation, shoot me an email at [email protected].
Chef Liz is the exclusive chef partner of ARCpoint Labs in South Florida and the Executive Chef and Owner of The Pickled Beet, a specialized prepared meal service that custom designs menus and prepares fresh, wholesome, and balanced meals catered to its clients’ specific needs. She has extensive experience designing menu plans for several health issues, including diabetes, heart-related, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and extreme food sensitivities.