I was thinkin.
I try not to get all TMI with my personal health info on here, because who cares, and I'm not a doctor - make no mistake.
However - since going gluten free, it has made such a positive change in my life, that I started to share my experience with friends. And I know for a fact that gluten intolerance is a) misunderstood, and b) much more common than people realize. Several friends who have had various health struggles have cut it out as sort of an experiment, and they were quite pleased with the results. Also, many parents of children with autism have found that eliminating it has greatly helped their children. I'm sure there is tons of research and evidence out there that I haven't even read yet. My own life was proof enough for me to continue being gluten free without any further testing done by my doctor.
Here are some of the yuck things gluten was unknowingly causing for either myself or other gluten free friends I know:
* irregular periods
* thyroid hormone imbalances
* hair loss
* various pains (knee, back) due to inflammation
The list goes on and on, but these are just the ones that I know of personally through my own experiences or those of friends.
Gluten intolerance is not the same as having Celiac's disease, but both mean that the body is attacking gluten in your system because it is not compatible.
The hardest part, I think, is feeling like if you give it up, that you won't have anything left to eat. And - time. Who has time to analyze this mess and prepare "special" meals?
Well, first of all, if it makes a dramatically positive change in your health, it is more than worth it. Secondly, I personally don't eat "special" meals, it's more about avoiding certain things and choosing something else instead.
So, again, I AM NOT A DOCTOR. You can do your own research if you are more interested, but here are the basics for me:
** You have to COMPLETELY eliminate gluten for a month to truly see results. Cutting back won't get it. If you are checking to see if it will regulate your periods, you will obviously need to give it a couple cycles. If you want "medical evidence", you can get a blood test which checks your system for the antibodies your body will make if you are gluten intolerant. However, the results will come back negative if you get tested after you've already eliminated the gluten.
Anyhoo, if you want to give it a try:
DON'T eat these unless you find a variety that is clearly marked "gluten free" of course:
(wheat, barley, rye, spelt)
things fried in flour
most packaged foods (nabs, granola bars, etc.)
casseroles with crackers, bready toppings
meatballs (bread crumbs)
some soups (if they look gravy-like, thickened with flour possibly)
pizza (although Mellow Mushroom has yummy GF pizza & GF beer!)
DO eat: (some of these may have trace amounts, but again, I am intolerant, I don't have Celiac's)
* order a sandwich, but don't eat the bun
* rice (but careful in restaurants where they have added flavorings)
* most salad dressings are fine
* meat (as long as its not battered in flour)
* Chex cereals
* gluten free pastas, breads, corn meal, etc.
* gluten free beers (my favorite is Red Bridge - you can find it at Harris Teeter and specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and Earth Fare)
So, really, I don't feel deprived. I eat lots of meat, cheese, nuts, veggies, fruits. If I want something sweet, I buy ice cream, frozen yogurt, or there is a good assortment of gluten free stuff in Harris Teeter, as well as selections in Bi-Lo, Walmart, and Target including AWESOME chocolate chip cookies. I order fries/potatoes or rice as a side if I want something "carby".
I don't know if this is helpful or not. But, I cannot stress how much this has helped me. Thought I would share in case it helped someone else. Please feel free to comment or email me if you have further questions. Again, this is just a starting place, and this is not a comprehensive list for those who have serious reactions to gluten.