Bread and pasta - two more of my favorite words that should be combined into a new love language! I know I am not alone in that thought, but unfortunately it’s just a dream and not an actual thing. For some, those two things come with pain, discomfort, bloating, nausea, and so many more unpleasant symptoms. How can two of the most delicious foods cause so much pain (and even sadness) in so many people?! Well it’s simple, gluten doesn’t agree with everyone.
Although most of the symptoms I listed above have to do with digestion, gluten intolerance can be even worse than that and cause the following symptoms/ailments to occur:
- Unhealthy weight loss
- Anemia - usually from low iron
- Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or softening of bones (osteomalacia)
- Itchy, blustery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Mouth ulcers
- Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, possible problems with balance, and cognitive impairment
- Joint pain
- Reduced functioning of the spleen (hypersplenism)
A severity of one, or even all of the above, is better known as celiac disease - an autoimmune disorder discovered by a Greek physician in the first century AD. But it wasn’t until the bread shortage in the 1950’s in the Netherlands caused by World War II that it was truly proven that gluten causes this autoimmune disorder. In short, many children’s health improved just by eliminating bread from their diet! You can read more about the history here. Today, celiac disease is known to affect at least 1 in every 100 children!
Now that we know where this all came about, how can those with even a mild gluten intolerance (or those diagnosed with celiac disease) get the right nutrition without sacrificing taste or making food more of a chore than an enjoyment? I’m even curious for myself as I have mild ailments from above that make me wonder if I need to eliminate or substitute certain foods to “cure” or at least help ease the symptoms that I notice within myself.
Before I get into what it all entails to be gluten-free, I think it’s important to first address some reasons eliminating gluten is NOT for. An article written by Providence Health Services of Oregon and Washington provides the following (click on the link provided for more information on each point):
- To eat healthier. Don’t give up gluten because you think it’s a healthier way to eat, unless you have been directed by a doctor to do so to manage a medical condition.
- To lose weight. A desire to lose weight is the wrong reason to go gluten free. Any fad diet for that matter is no way to lose weight as it can be tricky to keep it off once you are over the food restriction. A gluten-free diet is not easy to stick with for some.
- To try to diagnose your own symptoms. If you think you may have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive, talk with your doctor first. A simple blood test can tell you whether you have true celiac disease or not.
Oops, I spoke too soon even to myself on that last one! I for sure need to contact my doctor to see if attempting gluten-free dietary options is truly the best for me. I suggest you do the same and start with your doctor or a nutritionist prior to attempting to eliminate gluten from your diet or as always prior to starting any dietary restrictions.
Now onto my favorite part of blogs I write, the part where we talk about food! So how restrictive is a gluten-free diet and what do you actually still get to eat? Just as the other diets I have gone over these past few weeks, there is so much good food you still get to consume without feeling like you are missing out on the good things - like bread and pasta! Whole Foods Market put out a great Beginner’s Guide to Gluten-Free Eating:
WHAT TO EAT
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat and poultry
- Dairy (milk, cheese, butter)
- Some whole grains (quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, corn, brown rice)
- Gluten-free pasta and bread
WHAT TO AVOID
- Wheat-based ingredients (wheat bran, wheat flour, bulgur, durum, graham, kamut, spelt, semolina)
- Brewer’s yeast
See, I told you that you get to have bread and pasta still! My personal favorite options I have tried and love for each are Ezekiel and Udi’s breads & Bonzai and Barilla gluten-free pasta. But hands down my favorite alternative to pasta is zoodles! If you have never heard of them before, you are missing out! They are just zucchini cut into noodles - such a genius idea! I found a small handheld tool to make my own at the grocery store for less than $15 and Amazon also has a ton of options! You still get to enjoy your favorite meats, veggies and sauces but without the higher carbs, gluten and without skimping on taste. I promise you won’t miss it as much as you think you will and the plus side is you will feel more satisfied than full without the pain and discomfort of eating too much pasta whether you are gluten-free or not.
Also will give you another delicious tip and gluten-free alternative to something that most people think they have to give up on any diet - pizza!
- Cauliflower Pizza - so many different varieties and all so darn good!
Back to the Whole Foods Market article, they also list where to be careful as some foods are unexpected sources of gluten due to possible cross-contamination. So when you are shopping watch out for these and read the label to make sure that it truly is certified gluten-free:
- Soy Sauce
- Malt Vinegar
- Salad Dressing
- Anything labeled “wheat free”
If you have spoken with your doctor or nutritionist and are choosing to eat a gluten-free diet and need some no-brainer options where the guess and prep work is all done for you, we have some delicious options for you to choose from each week! Go check them out under our Gluten-Free Menu! Our top seller for the last few months on that list is our Alice Springs Chicken - can’t go wrong with that one, so go get it in your cart and check out by noon on Friday so you can try it ASAP!