Being newly diagnosed with celiac, I have been on a quest. I have been searching for all the information I can possibly find on the subject; after all it is a life-changing lifestyle that I have to strictly adhere to for the rest of my life and I’ll need as much knowledge as possible to do so. I think at this point that I have a pretty good grasp on it. There are many symptoms that are not typical to what the average doctor thinks as symptoms for celiac or gluten intolerance. Some of these symptoms include arthritis, recurrent miscarriages, infertility, lethargy, depression, and vitamin deficiencies.
The part that is irritating me is that there are many out there who are giving people with this actual disorder a bad name. I get looks all the time when I go out to eat and ask for an ingredient list or gluten-free options. People assume that, like many out there, I am eating this way due to a fad that is arising. Yes, a gluten-free lifestyle can benefit anyone. After all, the grains that contain gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) have not been in the human diet for very long and therefore our bodies have not adapted to contain them in our food supply.
I am not doing this for attention, weight loss, the “in” diet of the times, or any other reason aside from I have to! Trust me, when I found out I had celiac disease, it was like being handed a life sentence. I have since learned that it isn’t nearly as bad as I had originally thought it was. I can eat soooo many more things that I can eat than those I cannot.
In my reading, I have found that there are two types of gluten-free eating. The first is the replacement type and the other is the actual healthy way. The replacement style is where you eat all of your favorite foods from the past, just the gluten-free kind. This is a very unhealthy way to go about it. These alternatives are great, occasionally, but they are not like their counterparts. The gluten-free baked goods, pastas, etc. are basically nothing but carbs. The flours used in these items usually are lacking the vitamins and minerals and are void of much of anything healthy.
This is not a reason to not eat gluten-freely, especially if you need to for your health. You can always eat meats, vegetables, fruits, and lots of other grains that are packed full of healthy stuff. In fact, many of the alternative grains, such as millet, quinoa, and flax seed, are even healthier than those you are cutting out. The healthy way of eating gluten-free is not replacing the stuff you wish you could have, but to find new delicious things to eat.
One thing to remember is that if you want to get tested for either celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, do not stop eating gluten until after testing is done! If you stop eating gluten before testing is complete, you might get incorrect results. They test for gluten problems by looking for antibodies in your blood and by small intestine biopsy to see if the intestinal villi are eroding(this is the most common course of testing for celiac, but not always), which shows whether or not the gluten is causing your body to attack itself. Also, testing for celiac is not something you have to do just once; if you are cleared of having it, it doesn’t mean you can’t develop it later on in life. If you have been cleared of having it but are still having symptoms months and years later—get checked again!
From all the research I have been doing, I personally think that everyone should go gluten-free. The one thing I think that people without celiac should do is not self-diagnose. It is a very serious thing and can cause many bad things to happen to people who have it (which, BTW, is very often undiagnosed in a large number of Americans). If you don’t have celiac, don’t say you do! Stand up and admit that you are doing it because it is a healthier alternative, much like someone going vegetarian. The only good thing that has come from the gluten-free fad is that there are now many great gluten-free products available in the American marketplace. America is one of the last countries to actually catch on that this is a serious condition, and because of this, so many are misinformed about what celiac and gluten sensitivity are.
I say research things for yourself and stop getting your knowledge from assumptions spread by the general public. Celiac is real. Gluten sensitivity is real. Sure people are out there that say they have either one of these, but there are also people who actually do, so if you work with food or medicine (restaurant, grocery store, nurse, or doctor) please look into it and become informed. There are many people who will greatly appreciate it (and like me, will be likely to let you know how grateful they are) and don’t just automatically assume that it is someone following the bandwagon for the image it gives them. If you are one of these people, get a life and find something worthwhile to be recognized for. If you really want attention, go out and do something like donate you time, money, or experience to those that need help.