Is gluten-free really a thing?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I have to admit, I've been very skeptical of the whole gluten-free business from the get-go.

I tended to agree with my allergist, who said the only people who truly need to be gluten free are those with celiac disease. The rest of these people, he averred, are middle-aged privileged women with nothing else to do but buy into the latest food fad.

This was a few years ago, before gluten free became as big as it is now, but even then I was a little shocked at his blatant dismissal of a whole group of people, especially since I could be considered one of its members!

But still, I tended to secretly agree with his assessment. I, myself, have got on too many bandwagons to count over the years, eagerly following the latest health trend, only to discover that it would soon be replaced by the next "life-saving and -enhancing" miracle supplement or food. 

But no, not now. I am older and wiser.


Except when I'm not.

You know, I think I really have found there's something to this gluten-free thing.

Several years ago, beautifully baked nice crusty French baguettes were a regular feature on our dinner table. Like three nights a week. There's nothing I liked better than biting into that crispy outer shell and the soft bread underneath. Slathered with real butter of course.

But then I decided I had to lose some weight. And to do that I gave up the white flour and white sugar. 

The first thing I noticed was that my joints didn't hurt anymore. (This was long before I lost all 30 pounds, so it wasn't the extra weight.) My fingers and elbows had been achy and arthritic-feeling, and all of a sudden, they were fine.

Hmmm . . . I thought, but then kind of forgot.

So fast forward to this past holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I ate a lot of white sugar and white flour, more than I have for a long time.

I had totally forgotten about my achy joints as they hadn't bothered me in more than a year and a half.

And what do you know? My fingers became swollen and achy. It was a real "aha" moment.

Now I don't think I need to be one of those persons who scrupulously avoids every form of white sugar and flour forever. But I certainly have my eyes opened to the real experience of inflammation resulting from white flour. And I'm going to reduce my consumption of it to a very occasional thing. (I almost typed "treat," but I don't want to think of it as a treat I'm depriving myself of. It's all in the mindset, isn't it?)

And you know, the culprit could be the sugar. That causes inflammation, too.

In any case, these two, white flour and white sugar, are bad actors. And I have the evidence for myself now.

So I am no longer secretly rolling my eyes at my gluten-free friends. Sorry, people.

*******

 So what say you? Are you gluten-free? Where do you weigh in on this? Do you think it's a fad, or a real issue? What other side effects, if any, have you noticed from gluten?

28 comments :

  1. I agree with your allergist. That said, each person knows himself or herself best. We know how we feel when we eat this or that. Right now, I am coming to terms with how I feel when I eat cashews. 😏 Also I think many of us, myself included, have a problem with balance.

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    1. So true!! I could probably eat anything if I could just master that moderation thing!!

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  2. I also agree with your allergist. Just wait - in 5 years it will be something else. That said, I think that wheat is grown with many chemicals that could be affecting us. And sugar is proven to be not a healthy part of our diets. We, as a wealthy western culture, have such an unhealthy diet overall. I'm of Paul's persuasion - all things in moderation.
    What really seems odd to me is the way that the non-gluten people make such desperate attempts to recreate the baking they are now forbidden by using equally processed and chemically laden alternates.
    The only effect I've noticed from gluten is that if I eat too much baked stuff, I gain weight. Back to vegetables and protein, then. I have a sister who has celiac disease, so I am very sympathetic to true gluten intolerance.

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    1. Yes, give me the real thing or fuhgettabout it!

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    2. My best friend's daughter is a Celiac. There is a huge difference in her life since her diagnosis.

      People eat too much. They are looking for something to blame.

      Moderation is the key. Home made is the key.

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  3. I definitely think are way too many fad diets out there and the gluten-free thing certainly is a HUGE thing. Like you, I am always a little skeptical about these things. I have been doing some reading up on foods that cause inflammation and I will say that I believe there is something to it. I have eaten pretty much low-carb for several years...it's what works for me...and when I really get set on losing, I usually revert back to Atkins induction for a week or two to get the ball rolling. I have never felt as good as when I have eliminated all sugar and white flour out of my diet. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I had really gotten careless with what I was putting in my mouth...sweets and breads, especially. Before Jan 1., I was feeling horrible and hurt everywhere when I got out bed in the morning and just an overall feeling of yuck. I have noticed a big difference since the first of the year. I think there is a definite link to white sugar and flour to inflammation. Great post, Deborah!

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  4. We are trying different diets at the moment with a view to a more holistic approach to Gerard's health. I will let you know.

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  5. I'm celiac, and I try not to feel grumpy about it. I don't mind the no wheat, no gluten thing, it's the constant worry that I have eaten something contaminated, because even a crumb can cause damage to my intestine. So what if I think I am doing okay, but secretly causing huge issues?

    Sugar, on the other hand, is dreadful, but it still has a hold on me. I know most of my prayers would be answered if I never ate sugar again, so what's holding me back?

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  6. We really do have to pay attention to our bodies...pay attention to what we eat and how we feel when we eat it. I eat whole grains for the most part and don't eat any sugar and I feel great! I went to the Farmer's market this morning and have all kinds of organic fruit and veggies to eat in the week to come. There was also a couple selling whole grain bread...YAY! So I got a fresh baked loaf. But I will limit myself and only eat a couple of slices during the day. I don't like eating bread at the dinner meal any more. Well...this is long! I should do a post! lol Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hugs!

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  7. I too believe it'a fad. I know folks with celiac and they certainly benefit from being gluten free. However, I have a good friend who has tried every diet under the sun and then some and there's not a shred of evidence in her that I can see that any of them have done her any good. Nor has it made her any less grumpy when it comes to her health. I do think I eat too much sugar and I ought to cut back. Some days I do just fine, others not so much. I have always thought that if we eat in moderation and watch our sugar and fat intake, get plenty of fresh air and exercise, we should fare quite well. Of course one needs to feed the soul as well.

    Winter blessings,
    Sandi

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  8. Hello I was one of those that rolled my eyes to all those going GF, but iw ill say this I am not staying completely GF but by reducing the intact has made my stomach so much happier. But it was more a lactose intolerance for me. Sugar is something a try to use in small amounts. But our wheat has a problem with the GMO, Being in tune with our bodies is a must, God has given us the ability to heal! I enjoyed this post!
    Blessings...xo

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  9. How interesting!!! I, too, was sugar and white flour free for a long time. At Thanksgiving I jumped on the sugar wagon and combined it with flour (of course I did)..and talk about feeling miserable...well...you can put my picture by miserable in the dictionary.
    As of last Monday, I ROLLED off the sugar wagon and gave it and white flour up. I honestly believe I am still de-toxing-a bit head-achy and feeling just kind of unsettled.
    I honestly don't know about the gluten-free thing either-and have kind of assumed it was a fad. I have read several studies that say only one in one hundred people are truly diagnosed with celiac disease-others just feel better because they 'clean up' their eating. Not my call-if it works for someone so be it and good for them. For me- it is sugar and white flour and I am not allergic to it---just addicted to it. It is my drug of choice.
    Hope you have a great upcoming weekend. xo Diana

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  10. I'm glad that you found a solution to making you feel better, Deborah. I try to eat in moderation and that seems to work for me. I still drink the apple cider vinegar, honey, warm water drink everyday. Maybe that helps me?
    Happy Friday, my friend! xo

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  11. Another theory regarding the gluten free issue is the way the wheat is raised and harvested. Glyphosate is used heavily in the production of many things we eat. The wheat is sprayed with the glyphosate to kill the plant so it is easier to harvest. Potatoes are "fogged" before harvest. For that reason, we buy organic produce. Also the wheat grown in this country is genetically modified and cannot not be sold in certain other countries. Hellllo! Why are the Americans eating it?! Regarding celiac disease, it is real and I feel for the folks who have to be so careful with their food. I feel a lot better forgoing the white sugar and am careful about the wheat products I consume. We try to buy pasta from Italy, as they raise their wheat differently. Phew, I'll step off my soapbox now...ha! I will be seventy this summer and want the next ten years to be good ones, preferably prescription free. Have a lovely weekend...expecting freezing rain here...sounds like a soup and Netflix and book weekend... xoxo

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  12. I've wondered the same thing Deborah and know many tea people are always in search of the best GF scone. I have a friend who competes in triathlons and years ago she told me what a difference it made in how she felt after dropping wheat and sugar so there's truth to that even without having dietary concerns with them.
    I try for moderation, especially with breads and my own beloved scones, it's hard to find the willpower.

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  13. I know for myself, white sugar and white flour cause havoc with my body, and yet knowing that I don't always stay away from it, when I do though, all things are good.
    My oldest daughter has been tested positive for celiac and her stomach issues have certainly been better, a lot better. It's not always easy cooking two meals when we gather together for meals, but it's worth it. I have learned a great deal cooking GF for her, but I personally do not like it. Yuck!!🙄
    Great post,even brought some conviction to my heart as I was planning on having something I probably shouldn't on the sweet sidea. Ha!

    Have a terrific day~~

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  14. A few years ago, one of my friends had to go on a gluten-free diet after being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (she was getting rashes and itchiness). I've gotten to try some "you'd never know they were gluten-free!" food and some actually tasted good!

    I agree with the others that if you're healthy, moderation is the key.

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  15. I think you are on to something here....I do try to avoid white flour and sugar, but I have noticed that I feel awful when I have ignored my conscience. I need to be more conscientious and diligent, though. Interesting findings and thanks for sharing! xx K

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  16. Well, this is interesting! I have been eating gluten free for going on five years now. I do not have celiac disease. I use to feel like I'd gotten ran over by a truck. Sometimes I felt pretty fine. I had huge issues with acid reflux.I had a scope with a camera inserted in my esophagus to see if I knew what I was talking about. Yes, it was inflamed/raw. We had baked our own home made whole wheat bread for many years. Now it was making me sick. The whiter the flour the worse, I think. Please keep in mind that I am one of those folks who thought most allergies were fad notions for whiners. I had that attitude and of course I'm rather ashamed of that now. One fine day in May five years ago, our family had homemade pizza and I had one of my all too familiar more frequent episodes of feeling like I just wanted to fall asleep, then huge anxiety, and then a bad loose clean out, followed by a day or two of feeling really punky again. Guess what, it wasn't worth it anymore. My husband was worried sick that I would pass out on him whenever I would have these attacks and I was finally getting smart and linking them to wheat/yeast baking. I stopped eating wheat entirely. And no more baking. Only then did all my nasty issues go away. Week by week being "clean" and I became strong and healthy again. My conclusion is that maybe there is no such thing as wheat intolerance not associated with celiac disease, as is reported by allergists and so forth. But skipping wheat has been an easy choice for me and I don't need substitutes often, either. There are so many wonderful foods to eat that I don't miss: pasta, bread, pizza, cookies, cake, deserts, etc, because I am feeling mighty fine.

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  17. Very interesting post! About 8 years ago, I was tested for food allergies and found out my numbers for gluten were so incredibly high; I didn't want a biopsy and this was a very expensive test that had also pinpointed one of my granddaughters with a sensitivity. I don't know if I have Celiac's or just an extremely high sensitivity. However, ever since I went gluten free I feel better and healthier. I too lost weight. While I think it became another fad to help gals lose weight, I'm thankful because it brought a lot more products on the market and that makes life easier. I think a lot of the sensitivity came because of how processed all our wheat is. I'm sure in years to come there will be something else, but I will be gluten free for life.
    Hugs,
    Noreen

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  18. Dearest Deborah,
    A lot of food talk is about new 'fads' but as for all refined flour and sugar; that's a given fact!
    Both of us have cut that out of our diets and the latest blood tests were excellent and even my CKD showed that my kidneys are stable. So I certainly know what NOT to eat anymore. No cookies, cakes, sweets or white breads, pizzas etc. I have to bake my own and using whole wheat and coconut sugar or agave nectar. That works just fine! Pieter too is convinced and studying labels more religious than I did.
    Sugar especially is THE big enemy. https://www.pinterest.com/mariettesbackto/diabetes-sugar-addiction-healthy-blood-sugar-level/
    Check out 'Sugar: The Bitter Truth - A MUST SEE! movie...
    True, it is more an effort for preparing all your meals on a daily base but it's the only secure way.
    For lunch, both of us did follow Bob Harper's advice and we stick with a hard boiled egg (no yolk) and an apple sliced up; that's ALL. No bread, only for breakfast the multi grain and rye bread half a slice. Never bread with our supper, that is NOT a European tradition, they serve it only with soup and that makes sense.
    Sending you hugs and hope you manage to make it your routine.
    Mariette

    PS My latest blog is not showing, don't know why... ?!
    https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2017/01/after-40-years-somethings-gotta-give.html

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  19. I have wondered about this lately. I think that some of it is due to pesticides etc. introduced to our food supply

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  20. I am trying to learn about this also. I thought it was all about marketing and a phase. I definitely don't think that we need to follow every trend but we should be paying attention to advice of our doctors. White sugar is definitely one thing that I need to reduce in my diet.

    Great post Deborah. You are making positive changes based on what works for you and your family and I think that is the key.

    Hugs,

    Janet

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  21. I have to agree on everything you just wrote.

    I DO have arthritis - and certain foods bring on swelling and pain - and when avoided I forget I even have it. It is very much related to foods. I find eggplant, tomatoes, red wine and shell fish - all things I adore - have to be eaten in moderation, too.

    Good post, Deb - hugs. Have a wonderful weekend. ♥





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  22. I don't know if it's the gluten or the stuff they used to process it...there's so much "junk" in processing. For example, Morton salt is made extremely white due to bleaching. yuck! Do what works for you and your body; as to doctors, I stay away from them because they always seem to find something wrong...lol.

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  23. I enjoyed your post on this topic. You always share your heart so gracefully and thoughtfully. I am taking note of your comments about when you found achy joints feeling less so -- it's good when we can see the difference our food choices make to our bodies. I think it helps us adjust more willingly.

    Wishing you a beautiful weekend...
    Brenda

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  24. I don't care for the fad diets either, but there really is something to limiting the amount of white flour and sugar in our diets. We did so some years ago, and now whenever I am in a position such as the holidays, where there is too much of that to eat, I remember why we don't eat it, our tummies just don't appreciate it. I am with you... fad diets now, but moderate eating, good exercise, and cutting back as much as possible on those two culprits will make a huge difference in our health. Hugs to you today :)

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  25. Celiac disease is real but so is a gluten, or maybe what sensitivity. I can eat an Oreo and not be bothered by it, but I can't eat cake or pie or cookies or whole wheat bread without getting an adverse reaction - swelling, achiness, headache, or even constipation, etc. So I mostly eat gluten free and feel better for it. I also make it, rather than buy it. And I'm not so rigid with it that I can't indulge in something extraordinary from time to time, but know that it will have a negative effect and I have to factor that into my decision.

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