Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gluten Free FAQ Session

Happy Weekend Everyone! It's FAQ Session Day!

Today, I'm answering some of the questions that were sent to me regarding celiac disease and eating Gluten Free. I'm going to do my very best to be as thorough as possible.

Don't see an answer to your question here or have a new question you'd like answered? Email me! (The little email button is in the right hand corner of my site). I can always cover your question or topic in a future post or I'd be happy to reply to your email with the details. :)

A Brief Disclaimer Before I Begin...
I'm not a doctor. I'm not an expert either. I'm just someone who has celiac disease and has sought to be well versed in the diagnosis that I've been given. I also happen to be surrounded by a lot of people who eat Gluten Free, the same way I do, (Shout out to my friend Meredith + my family members) and so I feel I know enough about the topics to discuss them openly.

The information and research being released about both celiac disease + Gluten Free eating is continually changing + there are always new findings. I try my best to be up to date with these things. But again, I'm not an expert. The best analogy? Think of me as a Masters level student...who dreams of having her Ph.D. Ha!

Sound good? :)

Ok, ready for the Q + A Session? Here we go!

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Q: How long have you been eating Gluten Free? 

I've been eating Gluten Free for over 4 years now. The change for me began when my mom was diagnosed at age 50. I wrote about her experience in one of my first posts which can be found here.

Eating Gluten Free was something I eased into at first, simply because I didn't fully understand what it meant to have celiac disease or how to even begin to eat differently. I had to take baby steps and learn as I went along. I was fortunate, in the way that some others aren't, in that I had 3 other people in my family going through this change with me.


Q: What is 'gluten' anyway?

Gluten is a type of protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. It's the "glue" that binds foods together and gives the elasticity to dough. 


Q: What is celiac disease? 

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease. It tries to attack the gluten you ingest like it's foreign.

The Mayo Clinic gave a great definition which can be found here


Q: How many people in your family have celiac? 

My mom, my 2 sisters, myself, my cousin, and my uncle. It's genetic...can you tell? :(

My husband and daughter don't have celiac disease but have felt much healthier + better since Going Gluten Free.


Q: I haven't been diagnosed with celiac disease, but I'm still interested in eating Gluten Free. What are the benefits of someone eating Gluten Free who doesn't have a diagnosis? 

Ok, let's start by covering why Gluten Free foods exists in the first place. It's for people like me who have celiac disease. What that means is that my body cannot, under any circumstance, digest gluten (wheat, rye, or barley) properly. My body is intolerant to those things.

And these Gluten Free products are made without gluten in them.

I often times compare having a wheat intolerance to someone being lactose intolerant, since I've found people seem to understand when I use this analogy. If that person or people drink milk -- they get sick. If I eat wheat, rye, or barley (even oats because of the issue of cross-contamination), I will get sick (see below what I mean).

Now, let's cover why you should eat Gluten Free even if you don't have a diagnosis like I do.

Simply put? It's better for you. There are numerous studies and information floating around that suggests that none of us should eat gluten because our bodies can't digest it properly.

Futhermore, have you ever read what goes into the processed foods you eat? Does it ever disturb you that you can't pronounce anything on the list of ingredients? If it doesn't, it should.

Do you ever eat gluten or processed food, feel bloated or terribly full afterwards? Do you ever find yourself running to the bathroom afterwards (Yikes! I know!).

If you answered "yes" to any of these, keep reading...

Food For Thought...
Have you ever wondered why say, a cheeto, can be made like it is?

Let's not forget how it was made. A machine made it.

I don't care how good the Cheeto tastes (trust me, I know how good your brain says they taste. I loved them. But they are bad. Bad - Bad - Bad for you).

Eating Gluten Free is more than a change in your diet, it's a change in your lifestyle. It's a choice to live healthier. I wish I could tell you how many diseases, disorders, and health problems I personally believe are related to the foods we eat. But it's just my opinion (even though there is a lot of research showing up about this) and it's too much information to go into in this one FAQ.

If nothing else, I hope it's gotten you thinking...

Think About This Analogy...
The body is like a car. Cars need fuel to run and so do our bodies. What if you put Olive Oil into your car...do you think it would run? Probably not.

What if you put half Olive Oil and half fuel? Maybe it would...for a while...until it would finally stall or stop running.

And cars need regular check-ups, right? They need to be maintained (aka: Go to the doctor) or they will break-down and end up your local mechanic shop (aka: the hospital) or worse, at in a junk yard  (we will cease to exist) and you won't be able to drive it anymore.

Moral of the story: This is our soul's vehicle. Take care of it.


Q: When you say you get sick, what does that mean? 
The reaction to gluten differs from person to person. I think I read once that there are something like 90 different symptoms. Crazy, right?!

Here are a few examples of things you might experience or feel, and some that either myself or my family members with celiac have experienced.

* Gastro-intestinal problems (cramps, bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
* Headaches
* Nausea
* Weight Loss or Weight Gain
* Nutritional deficiencies (i.e. low iron levels)
* Depression
* Tingling in your fingertips or your toes 
* Exhaustion/Tired
* Aching Joints
* Decline in dental health
* Eczema 
* Slow infant + child growth 


Q: How many people have celiac disease? 

Research shows that 1 in every 133 people have celiac diease. That's....a lot.

My personal theory? I think we all do. I just think that some of us are just showing more outwardly obvious signs than others.

Q: Where can I go to learn more about celiac disease and eating Gluten Free? Do you have any books you can recommend?

A: The first place I would start is on the web or I would read the magazine Living Without

In terms of books? Surprisingly, I don't have a lot to recommend, especially since some are outdated. The one I would recommend (Don't laugh!):  Eating Gluten Free For Dummies.


Q: Do you have a favorite Gluten Free flour? Where can I buy it? 

A: I really like Pamela's Baking + Pancake Mix, Pamela's Bread Mix, Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour + William Sonoma's Cup 4 Cup.

I use them all for different reasons. If you have questions about what I use each for, please contact me by email. Over time, I will cover more about this as I feature new recipes. I'll explain why I used the flour that I used.

Q: Where do you buy your Gluten Free foods? What do I do if I don't have a Whole Foods or Sprouts like you mention by me?

A: I would recommend buying it online at Amazon.com because they offer it in bulk. I have found Gluten Free products at Target + my local grocery stores. The selection isn't as great, but I think it'll get there.

TALK TO THE MANAGERS at your stores! Request Gluten Free foods be available.

Note: Gluten Free food is more expensive. I think this is true just because of simple reasons behind supply and demand. The more of us that want it, the cheaper it'll become. If you're worried about prices, just try to cook as much healthy foods as possible. And just start by purchasing the flour. You can make SO MANY RECIPES with the flour products.

Q: Why is Chloe on a GF diet if she hasn't been diagnosed?

The number one reason? It's better for her health. And we want her to live and long healthy life.

Chloe also has Down syndrome + research shows she also has a larger risk for having celiac. Instead of going through the blood test or anything potentially invasive, we just switched her diet.

Honestly, it's one of the best things we done and we've seen so many wonderful changes in her since making the switch. We have seen a lot of wonderful changes for her since she went Gluten Free. She has more focus, she has better bowel movements, her tantrums don't seem as extreme, and we feel like her verbal skills have improved.

All signs point to 2 big thumbs up!

Q: You've mentioned that your husband, Stanton, is on a Gluten Free diet as well. Why? Does he have celiac like you do? 

Stanton made it clear to me, when I asked him to answer this, that the initial reason he made the switch was to support me. He was also interested in seeing if it would change the way he felt and his overall health.

He loves eating this way, as well as the results. :)

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Well that concludes our first ever FAQ session! I hope this information proves helpful and gives you a little more insight into why it is that I eat Gluten Free and why I'd like you to make the change as well.

I hope you're all enjoying your weekend! I'll be back tomorrow with another fresh, delicious GF dish!

Happy GF Eating, Friends! :)

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