Welcome to the tasteless land of gluten-free; the ultimate beginner’s guide.
Where does one start when talking about gluten-intolerance? Well, let’s begin with the fact that there are two different types of gluten allergies.
There is gluten-intolerance and there is celiac disease. The latter is more severe and slightly dangerous.
People with the disease cannot have any foods that come even in remote contact with wheat. The results can be quite severe.
Gluten-intolerance is an immune reaction to eating gluten; a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
Over time, the reaction to eating gluten creates inflammation that can cause damage to the small intestines lining. So, both of these types should be taken seriously and they are no joke.
Now that we know what it is; how can you determine if you have a gluten allergy?
Well, for me, this is my journey of discovery. For about three months my body was having an off and on reaction to something. And the reactions varied sometimes; but there came a point that all the reactions were consistent, and those symptoms were; severe upset stomach, cramps, bloating, anxiety, headache, and dizziness. It was not pleasant.
There were times when I felt like I had been on a roller-coaster over and over again. After several trips to the doctors, we finally did an elimination diet, and oh goody, gluten was the culprit.
I then stepped into a world that might have been another planet. Wheat is in everything. And I mean everything. It is in things that you wouldn’t imagine.
The amount of gluten found in wheat has doubled in recent years, thanks to those hybridized crops; it is also added as a filler and a binding agent to many processed food products.
Gluten can be found in many items you wouldn’t think, such as; candy, bouillon cubes, gum, chips, flavored tea, hot dogs, ketchup, salad dressing, soy sauce, tomato sauces, and even ground spices.
When I first started looking for GF foods, the hunt was difficult. Because everything had some sort of wheat by-product in it. And some companies didn’t list wheat in the allergen list under the ingredients.
So, you had/have to read through the entire ingredients list to find if there was any wheat in it.
Kit Kat does not consider wheat as an allergy; under the allergen list, it says it was made in a facility where nuts are present. But wheat is the second ingredient. You have to be always aware of the ingredients.
Reading the ingredients can be scary and quite eye-opening; one just doesn’t know or realize what is in your food until you read.
When it comes down to it, 95% of the GF life is reading ingredients labels; annoying everyone, including yourself, standing in the aisle, reading every foreign word that makes up the product.
But I have found a timesaver, there is an app called The Gluten-Free Scanner; all you have to do is open the app and scan the barcode of any product, and it will tell you if there is any gluten in it.
The other five percent is eating the GF products people call “food.” Over time you will find favorite GF products, (find my favorite baking products here) and products that you go to daily (find that list here). And there are products that I simply refuse to eat because they are gross.
For me, there are times when I get a craving for real food, and nothing can cut the craving. I know what bread tastes like and mozzarella sticks, but I can’t have it. I just have to push through the cravings and move on.
This lifestyle is not healthy, there are certain vitamins and nutrients found in wheat. And when you cut them out, your body lacks. I take supplements to help recover some of the loss.
Being gluten-intolerant is not easy, but for me and many others; it is life.
And over time you will adjust and learn a new way of living.