Friday, September 26, 2014

Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oh My!: The 411 On What Gluten Really Is

“Does dairy have gluten?” “Oh, you can eat fries?” “Are you really allergic, or are you just into this gluten free fad?” “What even is gluten?”

If you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, I’m sure you get questions like this all the time. I know I do! It surprises me how there are a lot of people who are unaware of what gluten even is, let alone what celiac disease is. In today’s blog post, I’m going to clear it all up for you!

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley and rye. In Latin, gluten literally translates to “glue,” which makes sense because gluten is what gives baked goods and breads that elasticity to hold it all together and rise to make such fluffy goodness. That explains why some of gluten free products tend to fall apart and taste so bland.

Many people tend to think potatoes and other starches have gluten, but that is not the case at all! Even rice is gluten free, and rice flour is usually what is substituted for wheat flour in GF products.

Let’s talk cross contamination. If a gluten free pizza is prepared on the same counter space as a regular pizza with flour, it’s extremely likely your “gluten free” pizza will have traces of gluten in them. Even ovens can create cross contamination. It’s crazy to know that even the smallest amount of gluten can make someone with an intolerance super sick.

Now moving on to celiac disease. 1 in 133 people have celiac disease. If you have an immediate family member with celiac, your chances jump to 1 in 22. This is my case, because my mom also has celiac. The most basic way I can explain it is this: celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which gluten acts as toxin and poison to the body. When someone like me eats gluten, my immune system reacts by damaging, and sometimes destroying villi, the small hair like follicles lining the small intestine that are supposed to pull in the vitamins and nutrients to allow food to be absorbed. Without these villi working, it’s likely to become malnourished, no matter how many vitamins I take or how much food I eat.

In result, this leads to other issues, most commonly extreme stomach problems, chronic exhaustion and a completely lowered immune system. The list of other symptoms goes on from ADHD, to tingling in hands and feet, to ulcers in the mouth- all things I myself have faced more than any normal person should.

If someone with celiac continues to eat gluten, they can face major problems in the long run. My doctor gave me an example of a woman who had over 5 miscarriages in a few years before meeting with her. After being diagnosed with celiac and switching to a gluten free diet, she became pregnant and carried a healthy baby full term. Other long run risks include high chances of cancer.

I hope this blog post helps inform anyone who is curious to know more about gluten and celiac disease. I’m not a doctor, but having celiac disease myself, I’ve become very interested in researching all about it. If you have any questions, feel free to message me or comment below!  I’d love to spread my knowledge on the subject!

Check back later next week for some yummy GF recipes and products I love!



Monday, September 22, 2014

Falling Into New Habits

Hello, readers! Happy First Day of Fall!

It’s been too long.

I haven’t blogged in about a year, and I truly miss it. Sometimes I get random spurts of creativity, and then life happens and I tend to lose focus. Maybe it’s the Gemini in me, or maybe it’s my ADD kicking in, but I intend to write more often, and I hope it’s still topics you guys enjoy reading about!

In the past, this blog has been dedicated to my wide range of interests. From the fashion trends I love, to people around me who are doing great things, I love to write about it all. While I still plan on writing about those same eclectic passions and inspirations, I am now going to include a new type of category: eating gluten-free.

Since I last wrote, I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, celiac disease. Basically, celiac disease is a condition that damages the small intestine and stops it from absorbing the vitamins and nutrients I need to stay healthy. Digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, is what causes this to happen. The good news is, switching to a gluten-free diet is just the ticket to staying healthy. But for me and many others, this “good news” comes with a price. It has been a real adjustment for me to stop eating gluten, especially since it is found in all of my favorites: breads, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, beer, spaghetti, fried food, pizza, burger and hotdog buns and more.

While cutting gluten out of my diet has been hard, I feel so much better when I eat right. I’ve found some easy recipes, and have made a few of my own as well. I’ll be sharing these, as well as any products I’ve found that I like and are gluten-free. Celiac disease affects 1 in 133, and gluten intolerance is found in around 1 in 20. Hopefully these types of blog posts will help others with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or just anyone wanting to switch to a gluten-free diet!

Keep in mind, all of this is new to me too! If any of you out there have any advice or recipes you’d like for me to share, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment or message me!