So what’s all this fuss about gluten-free? Is this a new buzz word? Why do some people eat gluten-free? What is Celiac disease and how is that different to banting?
If you know all the answers to these questions yet have no idea how to start actually eating gluten-free, you have come to the right place. If you don’t know all the answers to these questions you are also in the right place.
But before I begin you need to grab a cup of coffee and settle down for some informative reading. Coffee makes everything better . Before tackling anything, you must grab that cup of java or cuppa, if tea is your thing. I have recently got into the habit of drinking chai tea. My friend, Lorna, introduced me to it. Drink it with a spoon of honey. Much healthier than coffee with milk, which is what my habit is. Well I am changing my ways and I didn’t ask to. I had to. Which is how this blog started.
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease I had no idea what it was. When I found out that I couldn’t eat anything that contained wheat I didn’t know how to eat. For example, I didn’t classify Rye into that category. I always thought eating Rye bread was healthier than eating general white bread. Well that may be true for some but not for Celiacs.
Something else which surprised me is that I couldn’t eat sausages or beorewors anymore. That’s right, sausages are not gluten-free. Please, please tell me that you don’t eat viennas!! (even without a disease). They are the worst. There are certain places who stock these gluten-free. I will introduce you to them in different posts as well as restaurants who cater for gluten intolerance and/or banting.
When I did begin investigating about gluten-free, I wondered how my budget would stretch. I’m a single mom with a teenage son who eats A LOT. How could I afford to buy specialised food? Well, it is not that bad and I will give you all of my tips, tricks and ideas on how to eat gluten-free on a tight budget. I will also share with you some gluten-free recipes. Especially quick ones, as I am sure you are as busy as me and have no time to cook. My meals are good, let me tell you! I have had some recipes published on a website called Recipe Lion, I frequently interact with them where I try out and comment on other people’s recipes. Check them out for some ideas. On that website my username is FoodLover.
I think, by now, we all have an idea as to what banting is all about. So what is Celiac disease? How is it different from banting?
Celiac disease is a gluten intolerance, an autoimmune disorder. Gluten is a type of protein . I couldn’t believe it either! When you are a Celiac and you have food which contains gluten, the gluten triggers an abnormal immune response in the small intestine and you can’t absorb nutrients from you food. It can lead to all sorts of ailments such as anaemia, vitamin deficiencies or osteoporisis. Those are only the serious consequences. In general it leads to chronic fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, lactose intolerance, gas and abdominal pain. For a more comprehensive list see the Celiac Disease Foundation. Please note that this is a not a diagnostic tool, merely a guideline. If you think you have Celiac disease you must consult with a doctor.
For years I was treated for a spastic colon, reflux and IBS. The symptoms for those are very similar to the ones you experience when you have Celiac disease. It was only when my daughter, she’s 24, had a blood test and told me that she had it and mentioned that it is genetic did I decide to get myself tested.
I must warn you that for children who have Celiac disease it can get quite serious so it is best to check these kinds of symptoms out to make sure that they are not gluten intolerant. Tiredness for no reason, is a big factor to consider. I remember having plenty of vitamin B injections for energy. If only I had known.
As far as I am aware there is no real ’cause’ for gluten intolerance other than that it is hereditary. Many years ago gluten-free wasn’t a ‘thing’. I remember as a child, hearing my family talk about my uncle Charles who was gluten intolerant and he came to visit us. We had to drive miles to find some gluten-free bread and I thought he must have had something really serious if we had to drive to the ends of the earth just so he could have some toast in the morning . The sad truth is that it is difficult to snack. Eating breakfast is difficult as you can’t eat cereal or toast or any of the ‘breakfasty’ things which are quick and easy, like muffins! What do you eat before work? Who has the time to cook bacon and eggs? FYI there are plenty of ideas on this blog! As well as my favourite website Fave gluten free recipes who I have also submitted recipes to. It is published by the same people who do Recipe Lion.
If you think you have Celiac disease you can consult with you doctor who will ask you some questions and give you a physical, but the confirming test would be to have a blood test and or a small bowel biopsy. The blood test is a TissueTtransglutaminase Antibodies test (tTG-lgA) and will test positive if you have an intolerance. If you have this test you must be eating your regular gluten-containing diet for it to be accurate.
If you are not sure but you think you may have Celiac disease try staying away from products containing gluten for a period of two weeks. If your symptoms subside or wane, chances are you probably have it. Some people are merely sensitive to gluten and a gluten-free diet will make them feel much better and healthier. These types of people can eat some gluten and cross contamination won’t be serious for them. So you can be gluten-sensitive, gluten-intolerant or have Celiac disease.
Banting is a diet, eating gluten-free is not. When you bant you don’t eat any starches and Celiac disease, or gluten-intolerance, is not about starch. People mistakenly believe that if you don’t eat food containing gluten you will lose weight. This may be so but not because gluten puts on weight. It is very important to bear in mind that you must consult with a doctor if you think you have Celiac disease. My blog is not about losing weight and fad diets. It is about a disease which needs a lifestyle change. Yes, it is healthier and it has led to me exercising (Did I tell you I have started boot camp?) and eating better in general (I’m still trying to give up sugar but it was a disease which started it and the rest followed. Thank goodness! . Honestly eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly is fundamental to being healthy and the likelihood of losing weight. There is no health benefits to avoiding gluten unless advised to do so by your doctor.
What is cross-contamination? If you have Celiac disease your kitchen must be gluten-free. That means to say that you must not use the same cooking vessels and utensils which you use when you cook meals for others. It is the same as a person who is allergic to nuts where a trace can trigger a reaction. If there are traces of anything containing gluten, it will affect the Celiac. In my house I have a gluten-free cupboard where I keep things separate. Here are some great tips on keeping your kitchen gluten-free.
Restaurants who sell gluten-free food must ensure that the gluten-free products are prepared and cooked in a gluten-free place. I will post in the future about which of these restaurants are the best for this.
I will also, in later posts, address Frequently Asked Questions such as what to do if you accidentally consume gluten. If you have any questions right now then ask in the comment section below and I will answer within a few hours.
Another future post will be on what to stock up on in your gluten-free pantry so look out for that in the next week.
I will be working with a nutritionist on eating gluten-free and banting. Quite a few of my recipes can be used for banting diets and I will be posting the nutritional value of each recipe so if you want to use them to lose weight you know which ones will work.