Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gluten-Free Versus Gluten-Lite, Take 2

About three weeks ago, I wrote about my plan to try eating gluten free for a month and then eat gluten to see how it affected me.  I was tested for celiac and it was negative, but I have heard that even without celiac, a gluten free diet can be helpful for people with Sjogren’s Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and hypothyroid, three of the ‘challenges’ I live with.  So the results are in -sort of.  
One thing I noticed is that I have gone from using 2 prescription-strength Pepcids a day, and still having problems with acid and reflux, to using only one Pepcid a day, with few problems.   
On Friday, one of my husband’s patients (he is a psychologist) brought him some homemade chicken noodle soup.  I decided that, since I had gone 4 weeks without gluten, this was as good a time as any to put my system to the test.  How ironic that I was having chicken soup, usually thought of as a cure-all, to see if it would make me sick.  **A note to my husband’s patient- This is not a comment on your cooking.  The soup was delicious.  The test was how my body would react to the gluten in the noodles.  And react it did.
We ate the soup with English muffins for dinner. Within a half an hour, I developed a stomach ache.  It was gone in the morning, but came back when I ate half of a bagel for breakfast.  I had half of a sandwich on rye bread for lunch, the stomach ache continued.  ENOUGH!  My body shouted.
In my previous post, I speculated on whether I would need a strict gluten free diet, like a person with celiac disease needs, or, since I do not have celiac, would a ‘gluten lite’ diet suffice?  True confession:  the diet I followed this past week was not completely strict.  I did not eat anything with blatant gluten ingredients, but I did eat a few things that were labeled ‘packaged in a facility that also packages wheat’, so there may have been some contamination.  I also ate oatmeal for breakfast most days.  Oats, themselves don’t have gluten, but they are sometimes grown in fields that alternate with wheat, so may have some contamination.
My next experiment will be whether my body can handle small amounts of gluten.  Yesterday, we ate at Cracker Barrel, a favorite restaurant of mine.  I asked them about gluten free foods, they said that they don’t claim that any of their menu is gluten free.  I chose items that are less likely to have gluten:  grilled trout, corn, hash brown casserole and coleslaw.  I did not ask for my food to be cooked separately, as a strict gluten free person would require, and I even ate a half of a corn muffin, which was made with some wheat flour.  I did fine.
My plan is to eat mostly gluten free, any products which are primarily grain, such as bread and pasta, I will stick with gluten free. But I will allow myself to use products with a small amount of gluten, such as my favorite mustard. Someday, I may try a strict gluten free diet, to see if it helps me even more, but for now, I am going to stick with ‘gluten lite’. That is the best of both worlds (at least for me).

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