Eating Gluten-Free for Life


Living gluten freeSo many people today are living and eating gluten-free.  What started as a way of life only for those with celiac disease or a severe allergy to wheat has recently become the norm.  With stronger awareness and testing, more people are being diagnosed with celiac disease who must avoid the inflammation in the small intestines caused by gluten.  Yet others are also embracing a gluten-free diet for additional reasons.  Many parents of kids with spectrum disorders have discovered better results with eating gluten-free while others have found less bloating and joint pain without gluten in their diets. 

In fact, according to Natural News, “there are 35 diseases that can be caused by eating gluten listed in a review in the New England Journal of Medicine. Some of these symptoms are: arthritis, ADHD, depression, anxiety, IBS, lupus, frequent headaches, fatigue, eczema, loss of muscle coordination, osteoporosis, a weakened immune system, fungal overgrowth, organ inflammation, weight loss/weight gain, and malnutrition.”  Additionally, “Gluten sensitivity increases your risk for type 1 diabetes, obesity, gastrointestinal cancers, brain disorders, autism and thyroid disease.”

For those who suspect that (or wonder if) gluten is causing symptoms or making symptoms worse, consider trying an elimination diet.  I have found the single best ways to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to do an elimination diet.  Remove all gluten from your diet for a month or more to see if symptoms lessen or if they persist.

The good news is that with a larger percentage of the population going gluten-free, there are more great food options, better labeling and more recipes available for those living gluten-free.  The down-side of so many people avoiding gluten is that it may diminish the importance of strict adherence in public places such as restaurants for those who could get extremely ill from accidental exposure.  For people with celiac disease or a gluten allergy, maintaining a strictly gluten-free diet must be taken very seriously.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that involves the intestinal tract, particularly the small intestine.  For people with celiac disease the lining of the small intestine has been damaged by the effects of ingesting gluten, thus preventing the system from properly absorbing other foods.  Symptoms of celiac disease can vary from “failure to thrive” to exhaustion to vomiting and severe stomach bloating.  It is estimated that one out of 133 people in the United States has celiac disease and has strong hereditary connections.

An allergy is when the immune system overreacts to gluten and immediately produces antibodies known as IgE, signaling to the body that the food is harmful. These antibodies are produced as the immune system attempts protect itself from the harmful food.  These antibodies set in motion a histamine reaction that can be seen on the skin (hives), in the airway (wheezing or anaphylaxis) and the stomach (vomiting).  An intolerance to a food does not involve the immune system. 

So what exactly is gluten? 

Gluten is a protein that works as a binding agent in common grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale.  Many doctors talk of gluten as the “glue” that holds the grain together.  Some grains, such as oats, can be also contaminated with wheat during processing so oats are generally avoided unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free. Yet gluten can be found in everything from soy sauce to food additives to Play Dough to licorice.  Therefore it is very important for those who live gluten-free to read labels carefully and to avoid foods that are not clearly labeled as gluten-free.  For a great guideline of what is and is not allowed on a gluten-free diet, go to:

Having a son with severe food allergies (including an allergy to gluten) as well several friends with celiac disease has made me extremely aware and educated on the effects of gluten on our bodies. 

This post has been written in honor of Celiac Awareness Month.  To learn more about celiac disease and Celiac Awareness Month, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation’s website at  Thank you to Udi’s Gluten Free for sponsoring this post and for sending me a fabulous box of Udi’s breads, muffins brownies and cookies as a thank you.  Needless to say, I am one happy (and full) lady!

Have you gone gluten-free?  Have you done an elimination diet? If so, why did you make this lifestyle change?  How do you feel now?

Udi's gluten free snicker doodles and gluten free brownie bitesUdi's gluten free granola bars and gluten free granola


    Ive been GF for close to twenty years and it changed my life.
    that said, I always tell people to read and learn and get tested as it is NOT for everyone.

  2. I’ve heard such good things about going gluten free. I’d love to try it one of these days to see if it makes a difference in how I feel. I’ll have to see if I can find Udi’s around me and give it a try.

  3. Great info! Though we haven’t been diagnosed, my family and I know the affects of gluten and have been a conscious effort to avoid it when possible. Thanks Jess for this super informational post!

  4. Fantastic, informative post! I have always been on the fence about trying a gluten-free diet (I have psoriasis) and have not taken the full leap yet. I think I might give it a try!

  5. I’ve been seeing a lot more food with the label gluten free in the stores lately and it’s great that there are options for those who can’t eat gluten.
    What I didn’t realize is that there are so many things that gluten can affect… weight gain was definitely not something I would have thought of.

  6. I have been feeling much better when I eat GF. The Udis Granola Bars are my new go-to, on-the-go snack.

  7. Great post! We try hard to avoid gluten but we are definitely not gluten free, yet. This post has inspired me to try and make it “official!” Thanks!

  8. I’ve been gluten free for about 4 months now and have seen a dramatic change in how I’m feeling. I will caution people to check the calories of the ready-made gluten free foods though. Udi’s is delicious, but an Udi’s plain bagel has 320 calories vs a gluten filled Lender’s plain bagel that has 210 calories. I was very surprised to find the significant discrepancy in calories.

  9. I am actually debating the change to gluten free as part of possibly adopting the paleo diet…I feel like what I am doing now as far as nutrition is not working, and I have heard and read so much about the benefits of gluten-free. Thanks for the info!

  10. Great article with lots of really helpful information!
    I’m working on going gluten free, because I have definitely noticed a connection to how I feel when I do and don’t eat gluten (I do much better without). For me, it’s about finding the balance between reducing the gluten in my diet but still keeping processed foods out as much as possible. I think you raise a really good point with restaurants. While it may seem like the latest food fad, it is a serious disease for many that needs to be more deeply understood and respected.

  11. I’m not personally gluten-free, but I’ve done a Paleo diet, and it was one of the best things for my body. Just super hard to stay away from grains.

  12. I’ve been lucky thus far that gluten is tolerated ok by my system. It’s dairy that seems to knock it for a loop. I’ve been noticing more and more that restaurants are even adding oodles of gluten-free options for people. I think that’s fabulous!

  13. Although my kids have food allergy issues, gluten is not one of them. I have to give it up to folks who are gluten free by necessity or choice. It is not easy, especially at first. I have a couple people in my life who are gf and I do my best to adapt just about everything I make for parties etc, in a gf version as well for them.
    I have read a couple of reports over the years a that suggest in 30-50 years everyone may be gf – due to the drastic changes that have been done to our wheat – kinda crazy!

  14. Perfect timing for this post. I’ve been considering going gluten free because of my illnesses. My daughter has a lot of the symptoms of celiac but her tests came back negative. I’ve heard that there are other tests, but like you elimination is the best way to really know.

  15. I just recently went GF after an elimination diet. It’s amazing how much better I feel as a whole. I also don’t crave it anymore. Never in a million years did I think I could say no to the bread basket or crackers, but now, it’s second nature. Udis is a great brand and has allowed me to still have a little fun with my new lifestyle!

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