I’ve lost count at this point, but I believe this is the 37th post I’ve written for One Simple Change. I’m also moving along with my One Simple Change manuscript…my deadline’s closing in fast!

Today I’m going to talk about the potential issues with eating wheat, gluten, and grains as a group. I hope that by doing so, you can make an informed decision about whether these are healthy foods for you, or if you might be better off without them. Before I go further, I want you to know that I could probably write thousands of words on this topic, but since this is One Simple Change, I am going to attempt to keep things as simple as possible.

Let’s start with a discussion of wheat since you most probably eat lots of it. Many people (at least in America) eat wheat at just about every meal and snack. This isn’t hard to do if you have cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pasta or pizza and/or additional bread at dinner, and crackers, cookies, or other wheat-based treats in between…wheat is everywhere! Even if you make a concerted effort to eat a healthy, diversified diet, you probably still eat some wheat.

We’ve been led to believe that as long as we’re avoiding it in its refined form most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with eating lots of wheat, but I beg to differ. I think there are some issues with wheat, and that most people are eating far too much of it.

I cut back on the wheat in my diet a long time ago: I stopped eating it altogether for a year when I was healing from food sensitivities in my early twenties. That was twenty years ago.

I don’t have any symptoms of food sensitivity and I am in very good health these days but I continue to be wary of wheat because of the reasons described in this piece by Dr. Mark Hyman (I haven’t read the book Wheat Belly, but I believe the premise is similar…if you’ve read it, please let me know what you think). Mostly I just feel that I can get higher quality carbohydrates and far more vitamins and minerals from other foods like fruits and starchy vegetables.

Now let’s talk about gluten: what is it? What’s celiac disease? And is there any reason to avoid gluten if you don’t have celiac disease?

Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat (and its “ancestors” spelt and kamut), barley, and rye. It’s also found, though to a lesser extent, in oats. Gluten is what gives breads made from wheat their structure…their unmistakable “doughy-ness”. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a complete intolerance to gluten.

When I was growing up, I didn’t know anyone with celiac disease. Nowadays, however, I know lots of people who have it…why the change? Well, for one thing, it was clearly under diagnosed for a long time. I’ve spoken to several friends with long standing health issues who realized they had celiac disease as adults, went gluten free, and who no longer suffer with various symptoms like they once did. Something else that’s going on (which is referred to in the Hyman article): the wheat in our food supply has changed. It’s higher in gluten and causes reactions in a far greater percentage of people than used to be the case.

Like many other autoimmune conditions, celiac disease/gluten intolerance can either be genetically or environmentally acquired; sometimes people develop it due to chronic stress or acute trauma in their lives, while others may end up with it due to an already compromised digestive system (possibly as a result of medication overuse which destroys the normal gut flora). It’s also possible that feeding grains to infants before their digestive systems are ready to handle them may set the stage for gluten intolerance down the road.

If you have celiac disease and you eat gluten, your body will attack it. This causes inflammation that damages the lining of your small intestine. Continuing to eat gluten will damage your small intestine further, so that it can no longer absorb nutrients the way it is supposed to; this will weaken your immune system and may cause you to become sick in a variety of ways. Early symptoms of celiac disease usually include bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, and steatorrhea (an abnormal amount of fat in one’s stools). If you have any of these symptoms, you should get tested for celiac disease (but keep in mind I have a dear friend whose main symptom was migraine headaches). Speak to your doctor about getting tested before you go on a gf diet on your own; once you are on a gf diet, celiac disease can be hard to officially diagnose.

Celiac disease is a serious medical concern and the only cure is strict gluten avoidance; if you have celiac disease and you go on a permanent gluten-free diet, your intestines can heal and you can get healthy again.

It can be hard to avoid gluten if you eat any processed foods at all, and also when eating away from home. But it’s necessary to be vigilant; avoiding hidden sources of gluten is particularly important if you have celiac disease since ingesting even a very tiny amount can make you very sick. Be aware that gluten lurks in many places you would not expect; also know that some medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements use gluten as a binding agent, and that lipsticks and even postage stamps may contain gluten, as well.

Now here’s where things might get a little confusing. It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population has celiac disease (and is completely intolerant to gluten), but a far greater percentage of people is said to be sensitive to gluten. People who are sensitive to gluten may also have digestive symptoms (like gas, bloating, and constipation), but they will likely be less severe. Gluten sensitivity can cause many non-digestive health problems, as well: like acne, joint pains, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. These are the types of symptoms you could potentially live with for a long time without having any idea of the cause; it would probably only be after you stopped eating gluten and they went away that you’d make the connection. People with gluten sensitivity won’t test positive for celiac disease but they will respond positively to a gluten-free diet.

Please note that just because you are experiencing a health issue does not mean you are definitely sensitive to gluten. You might be sensitive to wheat but not all foods with gluten, or you might be sensitive to something entirely different in your diet… like dairy…or soy…or anything else that you consume on a very regular basis. Or maybe your problem doesn’t stem from food sensitivities at all. I am mentioning this because I see a lot of people these days who apparently think going gluten-free is a cure all for everything (including being overweight). This is not necessarily the case.

I’m not saying going gluten-free isn’t valuable for those who have a gluten sensitivity… it may be! But going gluten-free isn’t the answer to every single health problem. Going gluten free is not going to help you if you don’t have a problem with gluten.

If you think you might be sensitive to wheat, then remove all foods that contain it from your diet for at least two weeks and see how you do. Sometimes you won’t realize how bad you were feeling until you start to feel well. If avoiding all wheat doesn’t help, then I would try going gluten-free. If that doesn’t cut it, then I would try going completely grain-free. The thought of eating no grains at all used to make me really uncomfortable, but I have to say it’s starting to make more sense. Grains weren’t part of the human diet until approximately 10,000 years ago; evolutionarily speaking, this is pretty recent. So it is entirely possible we’re just not meant to eat them…maybe I will go Paleo at some point!

If you do find that you seem to be sensitive to wheat, gluten, or grains, be careful about eating too many treats just because they happen to be wheat, gluten, or even grain-free (though grain free sweets will probably be the least problematic of the three). Eating too many sugary carbohydrates- whether they contain wheat, gluten, grains, or not- is not good for anyone. Foods high in carbohydrates raise your blood sugar and insulin levels, putting you at risk for a number of chronic health problems. If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, then gluten-free baked goods won’t wreak havoc on your digestion the way gluten-containing foods would, but I still think you’ll be far better off if you focus primarily on eating foods that are naturally gluten-free (like protein foods, dairy products, fruits, non-starchy and starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, etc.).

Now what if you are in very good health with no signs of sensitivity to wheat, gluten, or grains…can you eat all of these foods that you want? And what about if you tried avoiding wheat, gluten, or grains, but it made absolutely no difference to your health…what then?

My feeling is that if you fall into one of the above camps and you don’t buy into the theory that all grains are bad for everyone (since they weren’t part of the diet of our paleolithic ancestors), there’s really no reason to practice complete grain avoidance. That said, I do believe it’s wise to eat a variety of grains if you eat them: it’s not good for anyone to only eat wheat.

I do eat some wheat. I also eat oats, rice, quinoa, millet, and other (mostly non-gluten) grains…and that’s why you’ll find recipes on this blog that feature these ingredients. They do have some healthful properties and I enjoy them. But my diet is primarily made up of foods that are naturally wheat/gluten/grain-free (to reiterate: this means vegetables, fruits, animal and plant protein foods, legumes, nuts/seeds, and dairy products).

If you want to eat less wheat and/or other grains (but you are afraid to), try cutting back and see what happens. I found that once I didn’t eat tons of these anymore, they kind of lost their appeal. I do eat pasta every now and then but what I’m really after when I eat it is the sauce. It’s not really about the pasta for me anymore…the pasta is just “meh”…I could take it or leave it.

If you decide you want to continue to eat grains, keep in mind that they do contain a number of problematic components (otherwise known as “anti-nutrients”): lectins, phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors among them. For this reason, grains- and particularly those with gluten- are most healthful when they are prepared after a long soaking/fermentation period. The soaking of the grain, when done properly in an acid medium, neutralizes these naturally problematic parts, making the grains easier to digest, and giving our bodies greater access to the nutrients within. Before the advent of modern culture, people understood that grains required a long preparation time. This is exemplified in authentic ethnic recipes from around the world, including the sourdough breads made famous by our American pioneer ancestors. The books Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats and Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats are good resources for learning about this (but please note that properly prepared grains may still cause health issues if you are grain sensitive).

So what do you think of this info? New to you? Old hat? Are you going to experiment with going wheat, gluten or grain free? Please let me know…I’d love to hear if One Simple Change is inspiring you to change your life in some way.

 

50 Comments

  1. 1

    Bethesda Locavore — October 13, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

    We have been trying to go grain-free (and somewhat paleo) and it feels amazing. And I agree with you about the sugar. I swear that the more flour/sugar products I consume, the more lethargic I feel. When I am primarily eating veggies and meats, I feel sooo much better. (I recommend reading Why We Get Fat too!)

    • Winnie replied: — October 13th, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

      Thanks so much for the recommendation- I haven’t read any of Gary Taubes’ books yet, but I think I must ;)

    • Winnie replied: — October 13th, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

      Oh, and congrats on going grain-free! I really feel like I may be going in that direction.

  2. 2

    One Simple Change: Consider Going Wheat/Gluten/Grain-Free | Easy And Healthy Meals — October 14, 2012 @ 1:12 am

    [...] Continue Reading: One Simple Change: Consider Going Wheat/Gluten/Grain-Free [...]

  3. 3

    Lauren — October 14, 2012 @ 1:35 am

    I just recently read ‘Wheat Belly”. Since reading it I have decided to cut out as much wheat or gluten containing grains as much as possible. I found the book very informative and really interesting. What I found most interesting was the amount of factual proof about wheat being unhealthy, but yet this information is unknown to most people… I most definitely agree with you about wheat being an addictive food. After cutting it out of my diet, I have found that I rarely ever have intense cravings for food (especially heavy carb or sweet things), I think about food less, and I have an easier distinction between real hunger and eating due to other things like procrastination/boredom (which I have found has actually decreased significantly). Im glad you wrote this post! I have been encouraging my family members to read it as well and the ones who were willing to put up with my constant nagging and read the book have been quite shocked.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

      Thanks for this comment Lauren. So true that these issues with wheat are well documented yet most people have no idea.

  4. 4

    Peggy — October 14, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    I seem to have upper respiratory issues such as coughing and choking when I eat wheat and refined sugars but I never hear anyone else talk about those symptoms. We have learned that we do feel bloated and we do have inflammation issues from it as well. Which we know leads to damaged arteries and heart disease if we eat gluten products more than once. How nice it is not to have all that pain just by removing the wheat and sugar. We have a saying at our house “Bread is not your friend.” I began following the Nourishing Traditions way of processing and preparing foods about 3 years ago. The choking, coughing became real problem when it combined with an immune system and adrenal problem as I began menopause. So I feel my best when I eat meats, veggies, and fruits and nuts. I eat raw fermented dairy as in a kefir smoothies, and kefir cheese. I also eat hard cheeses, and butter. I seem to have more trouble with soft cheeses. Thanks for your article, I am going to pass it on!

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

      Food sensitivities can affect the body in so many ways…I am glad you are figuring out what works for you. So much depends on being willing to experiment and see what provokes symptoms and what makes you feel well. I am glad you’ve been able to do that…and are benefiting from it.

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    Eileen — October 14, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    I’m following the Gaps Diet (which is a grain-free diet) to heal from Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’ve been on it for 4 months, and while I didn’t have an overnight success, my symptoms have diminished to the point that I need neither immunosuppressant drugs or pain killers. I believe I will heal completely in time and when I reintroduce grains into my diet in the future, they’ll be sprouted and in small amounts, and won’t include wheat. Diet is a powerful thing; I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. Prior to this, I ate healthy meals full of organic ingredients and limited my sugar intake, but I ate organic wheat and grains all day, and to make room for that cookie for dessert, I limited fat intake (another detrimental choice). I thought I was eating a healthy diet, following mainstream media’s recommendations. I’ve come to see a no-grain, high-healthy-fat diet is what my body needs. Thanks for spreading this knowledge to the world, Winnie!

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

      Yup- the mainstream media’s recommendations really don’t work for many of us!

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    Lisa — October 14, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

    I’m fighting the pressure to start feeding my 9mo baby grain — from what I understand, babies don’t produce enough of the enzyme to process it at this point, and it makes sense to wait. It’s a little scary watching the diet of the slightly older kids I’ve met — bagels, pasta, crackers, cereal, bread, pizza, teething biscuits… Part of why I’m holding off is so I have the excuse to not fall back on all those admittedly convenient foods myself.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

      Hi Lisa,
      Yes you’ll be better off waiting. It can only help and can’t hurt.

  7. 7

    Paula — October 14, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

    This is an extremely informative post and for me, rather timely. I just created a gluten free/nut free sugar cookie because one of my customers asked if I made gluten free decorated sugar cookies. I surprised myself how tasty the cookies were and I’m so anxious for my customer to try them.

    For some reason I was under the impression that going gluten free with my sugar cookies would result in a less than tasty cookie. How wrong I was! I’m now anxious to try so much more baking using gluten free flours and I have a feeling that gluten free ingredients are going to extend much beyond my baking.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

      Hi Paula,
      I am glad you enjoyed the post. There are so many reasons for people to avoid wheat/gluten/grains…having celiac disease is just one of them. I’ve made some great gf cookies, too- there are so many flavors to play with when you broaden out from using just wheat!

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    Lizzy — October 14, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

    I’ve actually started cutting gluten from my diet and have seen a difference already.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

      Glad to hear it Lizzy! I think the best thing for people to do is to try it. If it works, great!

  9. 9

    Lisa Reinhardt — October 14, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

    Thanks, Winnie, for such a clear and thorough article! I also had been completely off wheat some 20 years ago because of food allergies, and then drifted back on it a year or so after they cleared. Last February I did a cleanse that removed all gluten, GMOs and factory-farmed meat from my diet, and I feel so much better I’m not going back! I also dropped the last stubborn 10 pounds I’d been trying to lose for years, strengthened my immune system, reduced bloating and feel clearer. I’d never trade that again for a bagel or piece of bread!

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

      Thanks for this comment Lisa! I was checking out your website yesterday…your chocolates look incredible!

  10. 10

    Elizabeth — October 14, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

    No, not interested at all in the gluten-free fad. It would be different if we had a medical reason to eat that way but don’t. My latest irritation was going to the store and finding they no longer carried the Vital Wheat Gluten that I use when making bread and seitan. i asked the stocker and he said that nobody wants gluten any more and they have to keep making room on the shelves for the gluten free products.

    As a family of vegetarians and vegans we have always included a wide variety of grains and flours in our diet. Wheat causes no one (of us) problems. Studies show that only 1% have true celiac disease and in the past 50 years this has only gone up from 1/3 of 1% (Mayo Clinic) . Fad is the only thing that accounts for now 25% of the people claim they eat gluten free. It’s like a disease you want to have! You can blog about it, go to conventions, trade recipes etc.

    Also, people claim that being gluten free helps them loose weight. Well, if one really had celiac disease and were newly diagnosed, one would actually be gaining weight due to finally absorbing the nutrition in the food they are eating by following the gluten free diet.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

      Thanks for your comment Elizabeth, though I do wish you wouldn’t refer to gluten-free as a fad. There are many reasons to eat gluten-free, and having celiac disease is only one of them. I do agree with you that going gf won’t help you lose weight if you do have celiac; if you are gluten sensitive, however, it actually may help (though I am less concerned with people losing weight than I am with them optimizing their health).

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    Eileen — October 15, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

    I thought gluten-free was a fad as well, until my health took a nosedive and I began searching for answers beyond the conventional medical lifelong medication and pain route. For me gluten-free wasn’t enough; grain-free was the answer. I understand Elizabeth’s perspective: she eats a lot of grains and she doesn’t want to stop. We tend to resist what we don’t want to believe, and going grain-free isn’t necessary for everyone anyway. But if someone in your family develops a health problem, consider it. That’s all Winnie’s saying. And trust me, what my body has gone through before and after my dietary switch wasn’t something I chose in order “to join the crowd.” It’s an experience I would never have wished for.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

      Thanks for chiming in again Eileen…I appreciate it!

  12. 12

    Elizabeth — October 15, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    When the gluten free diet is being promoted by stars and tv personalities who have no reason to follow the gluten free diet other than they want to try something new and tweet and twitter and stores are jumping all over stocking their shelves, that is a fad.

    I work in a doctor’s office. The patients that we have that have been living with
    celiac disease for years are glad of the sudden new influx of gluten free items but they also wonder what happens when those who don’t really need them become bored and move on to the next big thing. It is a legitimate thought.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

      I hear you about these issues, I really do. But bottom line for me is if you don’t feel well, consider giving it a try. If it helps you, great! I don’t really pay attention to stars and tv personalities and what they are doing, to be honest.

  13. 13

    nicole — October 15, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

    Actually, only 1% of people have Celiac’s Disease. Most people just don’t know what they are talking about.

    Celiac’s disease is when you are actually allergic to wheat. This means you could go into anaphalactic shock and have very severe reactions when you consume wheat – like throat constricting, rashes, and so forth.

    Gluten Intolerance is when you have a sensitivity to it, much like lactose intolerance. It leads to an upset stomach, bowel irritability, and so forth. Most people I know who are gluten intolerant feel a lot better when they cut out the majority of the gluten in their diet, just like when people who are lactose intolerant feel a lot better after cutting out most milk/dairy products.

    I agree with you that people should eat less wheat, but I also believe people need to get their terminology right because Celiacs Disease is very serious and much more extreme than just a gluten intolerance.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

      Nicole,
      I know only 1% of people have celiac disease. I wrote that in the post. I also agree many people don’t know what they are talking about, but I hope you weren’t referring to me when you wrote that.
      Celiac disease is not an allergy to wheat, nor does it involve anaphylactic shock. A wheat allergy is a completely separate, unrelated health issue.
      Celiac diseases is a complete gluten intolerance. Please see here if you do not believe me: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001280/
      A gluten intolerance is not the same as a sensitivity- I wrote all this above in the post…and I agree with you that celiac is very serious. I wrote that, as well.

  14. 14

    Elizabeth — October 15, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    Well as I said we have no problems with grains, we eat a very varied vegetarian and at times vegan diet. We but pesticide free and organic for what we do not grow ourselves. I do all my own canning and freezing etc.

    HGK, I just took a closer look at your website, since you call yourself Healthy Green Kitchen, I had wrongly assumed that you too were vegetarian. I see not. Just to be fair should you not be telling people to abstain from meat and even dairy due to all the health problems associated with cholesterol and connection with heart disease and cancer? These are the reasons we do not eat meat, BTW.

    Don’t mean to be a pest, but as I said I see an awful lot of people out there having fun with the gluten free label….proudly announcing this and that. Like I said it is the disease you don’t mind getting …before it was “celiac disease? Hunh? You’re allergic to celery?? ”

    And sure if it makes YOU feel better why not.

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

      Hi again Elizabeth,
      Nope I am not a vegetarian. I was for many years, but it didn’t work for my body. I am not going to say any more on that in this comment box because I simply don’t have time…but please know that my goal with this site is to introduce people to a perspective on health that’s not necessarily what is promoted in the mainstream. Our views are clearly different so we might have to agree to disagree ;)

  15. 15

    Kristen — October 15, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

    Winnie,

    I love your posts. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write them and share your views on healthy eating. I’m on a search for what’s healthy for my body. I’ve read so many books on nutrition. Some people say raw is best, others a vegetarian lifestyle, and others that eating primarily animal protein and vegetgables is the way to go. I do think everyone just needs to find what works for their bodies while eating whole foods. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I always learn something. I am very much in line with how you eat, btw, after experimenting with food for many years. Thank you for what you do!

    Kristen

    • Winnie replied: — October 15th, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

      Kristen,
      This comment makes my day! Yes we all do need to find what works for us, and I am trying to encourage my readers to have open minds and to try different things to see what makes them feel best. I don’t profess to have all the answers and I don’t think it’s my way or the highway…not at all…there are lots of healthy ways to eat because we are all different :)

  16. 16

    Kim Foster — October 16, 2012 @ 11:34 am

    Elizabeth –

    I appreciate your comments here, but I have to say – being a vegetarian is not the only way to be healthy.

    Winnie’s blog isn’t vegetarian strictly, because she embraces all kinds of healthy ways to eat – Vegetarian, Vegan, Carnivore, Omnivore, Paleo, GF. It’s all here. I love Winnie’s blog because she celebrates good food, elevated by her clean, do-able, surprising recipes, and her focus on whole foods. That includes pastured meat, purchased at local farms.

    I think this is a good conversation to have, but let’s not give her shit about it. There’s something here for everyone who cooks.

    Kim

  17. 17

    Elizabeth — October 19, 2012 @ 11:29 am

    Kim , I am not saying being vegetarian or vegan is healthier than others. I was surprised to find that HGK is not vegetarian as it does say “healthy” and “green” in the title. My concern is the explosion on the marketing and production of GF foods at a hugely faster rate than need and for what is behind that. My thought is that it is a way to cash in on a new source of income for more processed foods for a subset, just like they did with the fat-free. We all know how unhealthy the “fat-free” foods have actually turned out to be. You know if Big Foods is jumping on the bandwagon it is not for our good, it is for their profit.

    • Winnie replied: — October 19th, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

      Completely agree with you that gf processed foods aren’t healthy. No reason to assume I am vegetarian, though. Being vegetarian isn’t the only healthy or green way to be.

  18. 18

    Luna — October 19, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

    Not at all a criticism, but if, when you have pasta, it’s just meh, you’re eating at the wrong place. Good, fresh, homemade pasta is a thing of beauty. Our favorite restaurant is a pasta bar in Minneapolis, and, while their sauces are amazing, the pasta itself is king.

    Great post. I just had to defend the occasional consumption of GOOD (not from a box!) pasta from the accusation of being “meh”! :-)

    • Winnie replied: — October 20th, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

      Fair enough! Pretty sure you are right…that if I ate homemade pasta in Italy I would feel differently! Plus, the wheat in Europe is better for you…it’s higher in protein and has less gluten :) Anyway, I was just trying to make the point that I don’t think all the wheat we eat is warranted. Glad to have you as a reader!

  19. 19

    One Simple Change: The Deal With Dairy | Healthy Green Kitchen — October 20, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

    [...] that’s been on my mind for a while, and even more so after a couple of the comments on my last post got a little [...]

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    Jenn — October 21, 2012 @ 4:57 am

    I have no training in anything medically related so I don’t want anyone to think I know what I’m talking about, but wanted to add my $0.02 from my own experience in a gluten free family and review of the current scientific peer-reviewed literature – I’m kind of surprised that none of your recommendations involved consulting with your doctor before “experimenting” with giving up gluten, in order to determine if you have celiac or a gluten intolerance. It is often much harder to diagnose once you have avoided gluten for a time period, and in some cases may mean having to go back on gluten for an extended time again in order to be able to obtain a proper diagnosis. If someone truly has celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, experimenting by going off of gluten before consulting their doctor may actually make the road longer and more painful if they end up having to go back on it again for the sake of getting a diagnosis. I think it’s really important to find a doctor willing to work with you and your diet changes.

    • Winnie replied: — October 21st, 2012 @ 8:15 am

      Hi Jenn,
      Thank you so much for chiming in. I did write this: “Early symptoms of celiac disease usually include bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, and steatorrhea (an abnormal amount of fat in one’s stools). If you have any of these symptoms, you should get tested for celiac disease”, but since the post is so long, that statement might have been missed. You are absolutely right that it’s harder to officially diagnose celiac once you are on a gf diet because the test will not be positive. I will go back into the post and make sure this is understood. xoxo

  21. 21

    Valeria Necchio — October 22, 2012 @ 7:23 am

    I eat mostly a botanical-based diet, with a large variety of fruit and vegetables and yes, a big variety of grains, consumed in their whole, unprocessed form. I eat pasta very sparingly and when I do I choose organic whole wheat pasta. As for the rest, grains are eaten as a main source of calories in my day, mixed with other veggies, legumes, seeds and nuts, and sometimes, some good dairy. I find my diet to be pretty healthy and balanced and I don’t find grains to be addictive or to cause any problem to my health. I take the time and care to soak with lemon juice previous to cooking and this works great for me. I agree that, in case someone feels he/she’s sensitive to gluten and grains, then it should get diagnose and eventually give them up, but I don’t think they are unhealthy per se –they actually give us quite a lot of good nutrients. Plus, they are a sustainable choice, as basing our diet mainly on organic grains and plants is quite an environment-friendly one.

  22. 22

    Kerry — October 23, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    I’d like to address Elizabeth’s assumption that people are jumping on the band wagon of gluten-free. I have been quite ill for about 15 years, not so ill that I couldn’t function, and not ill enough for my doctor to feel it needed further investigation. I was told time and again it was ‘stress’. However, with the amount of attention being paid to a gluten-free diet, I became aware of it and tried for myself to see if it would make a difference to my raw guts. I haven’t felt so well in many years, I don’t need to be diagnosed, I now know I am gluten intolerant. You see Elizabeth, if it wasn’t for these ‘fad’ diets as you like to put it, many of us would never discover what ails us. I know of three other ladies who stopped eating gluten and would never go back, all of us were never diagnosed by our doctors. How fortunate you are to never have experienced gluten intolerance, for those of us who have, we are very grateful for any information offered. Thank you Winnie for your advice, I find it extremely helpful.

  23. 23

    gluttonforlife — October 23, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

    Winnie, your blog is always thoughtful, comprehensive and very well researched. You’re probably sick of reading comments on this post, but I do want to say that my husband is very gluten-intolerant and thus I, too, have stopped eating most gluten, although we do incorporate some brown rice, quinoa and millet into our diet. I don’t really miss wheat and I find that eliminating it also helps me eat much less sugar, with which it is so often paired in baked goods and processed foods. Wheat causes inflammation which, ultimately, does no body good.

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    Blaire h — January 3, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

    Yes, mr. Hymans article is just like the wheat belly book.

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    Eating for Health and Happiness, plus Yellow Cake with Lemon Curd | Healthy Green Kitchen — April 25, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

    [...] diets can be helpful. I wrote about why you may want to eliminate wheat, gluten, and grains here. I wrote about dairy here. And sugar here. There’s a chapter on food sensitivities in my book [...]

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    Purebery Max — May 6, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

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    shooting targets steel — May 12, 2013 @ 6:43 am

    I am really impressed with your writing skills
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    Charlotte — May 12, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog. Your posts are fair and even though you sometimes have a strong opinion about some things, you also say it based on your research and let your readers decide for themselves.

    I read your other post about labeling ourselves, gluten-free, vegan, etc. I agree we shouldn’t label ourselves according to our diet. We are all different and we should learn to listen to our bodies to see what works for us. I do want to mention that sometimes I have to use these labels for convenience. For example I went on a business trip and the people I was working with asked me what I wanted for lunch. By saying I am “gluten-free” made it so much easier for them to pick a place. I am really more like low gluten so I can find something in most places except pizza/pasta joints.

    Overall my food philosophy is eat everything in moderation and listen to your body. I do want to try some of these elimination “diets” since I have a problem with stomach bloating. I can’t seem to find the answer. Like my stomach can grow 3-5 inches in one day then back to normal again the next day. Even my “normal” looks bloated. At 105 lbs, I do not need to lose weight. It is just so strange why my belly is out of proportion to the rest of my body. Maybe going grain-free will help. I know dairy gives me a runny nose so I avoid it but not 100%. I also exercise regularly 3-4x a week cardio with some light weight training.

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    Elicia Mckindra — May 24, 2013 @ 3:24 am

    Food industry applications, both of pure lactose and lactose-containing dairy by-products, have markedly increased since the 1960s. For example, its bland flavor has lent to its use as a carrier and stabiliser of aromas and pharmaceutical products. Lactose is not added directly to many foods, because it is not sweet and its solubility is less than other sugars commonly used in food. Infant formula is a notable exception, where the addition of lactose is necessary to match the composition of human milk..,*;

    http://healthfitnessbook.comCurrent blog post provided by our personal web site

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    Green Coffee Diets — August 6, 2013 @ 4:45 am

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    Liana — October 19, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

    Hello , just found your blog and I love it. This article was very interesting. I was off wheat for a long time but was very unhappy as I thought, what is going on. Isn’t bread supposed to be the “staff of life?” I just found Einkorn wheat this year and I have been buying the wheat berries and grinding it in a little home grain mill. I am in heaven. I can now make and eat pasta and bread and a homemade dessert now and then and have none of the problems I was having before. Have you looked into this at all, or heard others that have had success with this most ancient of grains???

    • Winnie replied: — October 19th, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

      Hi Liana! This post is a little old but I am glad you commented. I love Einkorn flour and I am using it a lot in my baking. I am developing a recipe with it as we speak!

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