Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gluten Free Versus Gluten Lite

My oldest son has a girlfriend who has celiac, as do several of her relatives. She has one aunt who likely has it, but she does not want to get tested. Perhaps she believes that as long as she doesn’t get tested, she doesn’t have it. More likely, she suspects she does have it, but as long as she doesn’t get it confirmed, she doesn’t have to follow the gluten free diet. If she does have celiac, this diet would help her feel physically better, but would make eating more complicated, especially when it comes to eating out or in social settings. I can sort of understand that thinking, but not really.

I have been tested for celiac, and I was negative. I have heard from various sources that people with Sjogren’s Syndrome do better on a gluten free diet, as do people with Fibromyalgia. I heard recently that people with hypothyroid also do better on gluten free diets. Since I have all three of these, I decided to try out being gluten free, and see how I do.

I have been ‘gluten lite’ for about two weeks, and planned to go gluten free this week. I changed my mind, and have continued the gluten lite diet for another week, and will go ‘all the way’ next week. This week there are too many complicating factors. The first one was a pot luck gathering with people from my temple on Christmas day. I know that there will be pot lucks in the future that I will have to navigate gluten wise, but since I am doing this as an experiment, rather than knowing for a fact that I will be helped by this diet, why make it harder for myself to adhere? The other complicating factor is my current situation: vacation for a week at our cabin, with our two sons (one is in college, the other in grad school.  Having all four of us together is a special event these days.)

At the pot luck, I had some soup with pasta in it, taking the pasta out, and I ate a piece of pecan pie, eating the filling but not the crust. Both of these I consider gluten lite, because I didn't actually eat the gluten-containing parts, but the food is contaminated if it comes in contact with gluten. Here at the cabin, I have been more stringent, but still not quite gluten free. I have my own bread, made gluten free pancakes when they had regular pancakes, and have been reading labels to avoid using products with gluten in them.  I did have a piece of cheesecake and ate the crust.

So the question is, since I don’t have celiac, the most common reason people eat a gluten free diet, how gluten free do I need to be? I know that for people with celiac, even a crumb of gluten-containing bread can throw their system off and make them symptomatic. Is that true for people who don’t have celiac as well? Or is ‘gluten lite’, as I have been eating this week, close enough? My plan is to go gluten free for two or three weeks, then eat something with a substantial amount of gluten in it, and see if it causes any problems for me. If it does, I will go back on the gluten free diet for a few weeks, and then try eating a small amount of gluten, and see how I do.

This has been a learning experience for me, and for my husband as well.  We were at a cafe the other day, and I was asking questions about the ingredients in something I was thinkin of ordering, and my husband got impatient.  If it turns out that being gluten free helps me, that is one of many changes he and I will have to get used to. I will let you know how my experimenting turns out.  I will also have more info about gluten and following a gluten free diet in a future post. 

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