Sometimes Being ‘Irritable’ Isn’t About Your Mood

Do you or someone you know have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anemia or heartburn?

I did. It turns out I am one of the one-in-133 people in the U.S. who has Celiac. Luckily, I was diagnosed because 97 percent of people with Celiac are not, according to  And of those who are NOT positive with celiac testing, 1 in 7 still struggle with gluten intolerance.

Celiac isn’t just constipation, diarrhea, or abdominal bloating. Nor is a Celiac always “skinny.” Symptoms may  include anemia, fatigue, low vitamin D, skin disorders, bad teeth, migraines, heartburn, ulcers, ADD, depression, infertility, arthritis, chronic sinusitis, and Type 1 diabetes. According to Carol Kerwin-Mushnick, a nurse practitioner from Milford, MA; “We test all patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Anemia for Celiac.” She explained the testing includes a simple blood test and often an endoscopy. However, she said, sometimes the testing isn’t conclusive. “If a person has many symptoms, we encourage a gluten-free (GF) diet because many have ‘sub-clinical’ Celiac disease.” Celiac isn’t just an issue for children. Kerwin-Mushnick divulged she recently had a 70-year-old who was diagnosed.

AND NO… THIS IS NOT A FAD.  There is a difference between the Allergy to Gluten (ie: Celiac) and the inflammation it can cause with Gluten Sensitivity. For people who are curious about the diagnosis, I’m going to post multiple Gluten blogs throughout 2014. Stay tuned for a very detailed, yet simple, explanation of Infammation versus Allergy  and Testing 101 in future posts. For starters here are some answers to common questions:

What is Gluten?

Any food which contains the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. So essentially most processed carbohydrates. Items like bread, pasta, cereal, bagels, pizza, wraps, croutons, cookies and muffins (including Ezekial breads and granola). Alcohols such as beer, malt and flavored vodkas are made with Gluten grains. Many other items such as seasonings, salad dressings and items you need to lick to make sticky (stamps/envelopes) have Gluten. More on what to eat and Jumpstarting Your GF Menu and Pantry Exchange in a future posts.

How do I know if there’s Gluten in my food?

This is a major obstacle for most new GFers and their well-intentioned loved ones who want to offer GF food. Read the ingredients and search for Wheat, Rye or Barley. “Google” the item online. Stay tuned for hidden Gluten words and products in a future Shopping GF post.

What do I eat? 

We eat food without gluten. We read all labels and replace ingredients. Quite honestly, it’s a gift 4 Better Health to not have fast food as an option! There are times when we can’t eat, but you won’t find a Celiac who doesn’t have a stash of food in their car!  That said – we would strongly encourage all new GF-er’s who are not eating gluten – not to jump to eating GF everything either… many people make the mistake of swtiching out all products.

Let’s be honest: A GF donut is still a donut. A GF bagel is still a bagel. And GF pasta is still pasta. Processed GF foods are much more expensive than their gluten counterpart. Stay tuned for a “Getting the most of your GF Dollar” blog later in the year. Quite often the GF version of your favorite cookie is going to behigher in glycemic index. So…NO it is not a weight loss diet. More on the 5 Mistakes New GFers make and JumpStarting Your GF Menu in a future posts.

Where do I eat out?

Thankfully, many more restaurants are becoming familiar to GF requests.  First and foremost: call ahead and speak to them. Don’t just ask “can you offer GF meals”, ask then specifically what they offer because many places will only be able to offer you salad (and then won’t give you cheese because you can’t have that either – a dead give away that the person is not proficient in allergen eating. Sure we are more likely to be lactose intolerant but cheese is from a cow and gluten is from a plant). We will go into it more in a ‘Traveling GF’ blog later in the year.

Where do I shop? 

All the major grocery stores and have gluten-free food. That said- many foods that don’t contain Gluten are often marketed as “Gluten-Free” to push the purchaser to buy them (ie: regular potato chips – made from potatoes and oil). More on “Shopping GF” and  Allergy Marketing Madness in a future post.

I could never give up pasta, bread and cookies!

Ever have a sudden flu with severe headache, stomach pains & diarrhea?  Have you ever have a moment of horrible -out of body- craziness – like PMS on steroids? Ever try to get stuff done and you just can’t concentrate, focus or complete a project? Yeah- it’s fairly simple not to sign up for ADD, the stomach flu or crazy moods just because you ‘love that food’.  I have three gluten-free children who eat GF and live a normal life of home made food to include pancakes, chocolate chip cookies and pizza. Sure we have to plan for BBQ’s, holidays & other kids’ birthday parties but we don’t give it up; we exchange it for GF versions. Feeling 100 percent better and the repercussions of gluten are very motivating.  Stay tuned for my future Laugh it up and Get Over It! posts.

What happens if I cheat? 

Most people will see their symptoms return or worsen. Untreated Celiac can cause infertility, osteoporosis, Auto-Immune diseases, migraines, dementia, liver disease, hypoglycemia, diabetes, organ disorders and intestinal cancers, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Many well-intentioned health care providers, loved ones and restaurant workers aren’t around for the aftermath of being ‘glutened’. More on Listening to non-experts andHelpful Tips: ATemplate for Friends and Family in a future post.

How do I start making diet changes? 

Start SIMPLE! Eat whole foods. Anything in the produce and meat department are free of gluten if they are not ‘seasoned’ or ‘marinated’. Much more onJumping in GF in a future post.

Can I ever eat gluten again?

If you have Celiac: NO- you should NEVER EVER eat it again. Celiac is an auto-Immune disorder. Once the immune system thinks it is protecting you by ‘attacking’ you, you are in MUCH greater risk of getting other Auto-Immune disorders. What is Auto-Immune and why is it such a big deal? Check out my Body on Attack post coming soon. If you are not Celiac, but instead gluten intolerant, this answer will vary. Most people need to remove all Gluten 100% at once – consistently -for at least 18 months for the immune system to stop reacting. More on How toHeal your Gut in a future post.

For more information check out these book resources:

Wheat Belly by Dr William Davis
Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter
Celiac Disease (A hidden Epidemic) by Dr Peter Green
Dangerous Grains by Dr James Braly
Toxic Staple by Anne Sarkisian

For children:

Eating gluten-free with Emily: A story for children with celiac disease by Bonnie Kruszka
The Celiac Kid by Stephanie Skolmoski and Anneliese Bennion
The GF Kid: A Celiac Disease Survival Guide by Melissa London
Bagels, Buddy and Me: A story about gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease by Melanie Krumrey

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