I stumbled upon gluten free not by choice. Our entire family was eating gluten, although what I considered to be better sources. Almost always sprouted grains, but if not sprouted, at a minimum whole wheat. Then my son developed some skin issues in 2017, which changed our journey. I knew from my health coach education that gluten and dairy were known to cause inflammation in the body. Sure enough I removed them from his diet and his eczema cleared up within a week and a half.
This left me in a place I didn’t really want to be. I was very resistant to gluten free, as it seemed to be the furthest thing from whole unprocessed natural foods.
I also questioned the entire concept, because felt this was just the newest trend. But it worked for my son, so maybe there was more to this. In prime type A self educator, health enthusiastic manner, I dove into reading and trying to learn. It made sense to me. Next step was trying to figure out what our new way of eating would look like.
As I went around the nearest Whole Foods store, I couldn’t get past the products that were available to me. It was great to see so many options available, as I know even just a few years ago there was not this much of a market. To me though, there was still a problem. Most all of these products were filled with very unnatural ingredients. Various gums and thickeners were added, because of course gluten’s main role is to hold foods together. There were lots of rice and even corn based products, which I knew weren’t ideal. I didn’t know what to do.
(I personally think the #1 reason why media outlets tout that gluten free isn’t healthy for people to go on unless they have celiac disease or other diagnosed issues is for this reason alone. Although, they don’t say it quite this way to help people understand a bit better….)
Then my mentality changed. Maybe the idea isn’t just finding the next gluten free bread, cracker, packaged replacement product etc., but instead getting back to focusing on whole foods.
But everyone wants a sandwich or some crackers right? Of course! And we now eat gluten free bread, crackers, etc. but they are not cheap. Especially because I choose to find the best options with ingredients I feel comfortable with, not including those listed above. These foods became more of a once in awhile accompaniment, instead of 2-3 times a DAY like most Americans.
In a book I read a few years ago, it talked about a 2006 article that indicated all people will get a mild case of leaky gut (breakdown of gut lining) after eating gluten. If someone has a healthy intestinal tract the leaky gut will close in a short period of time with little harm done. The problem is people eat gluten multiple times a day, not allowing time to close the tight junctions, coupled with the fact that most people don’t have healthy guts. The constant trigger to keep the tight junctions open allows unwanted stress, toxins, food particles, drugs and pathogens into the bloodstream, leading to ongoing inflammatory attacks and subsequent state of chronic inflammation. And chronic inflammation wrecks havoc on our bodies and leads to illness!
I have found once we spent time getting our gut back in shape (which you can learn how to do in my Gut Health Reboot Program), my son is now fine to occasionally eat gluten without issue. I need to be clear though, my son has a sensitivity not a true wheat allergy and the rest of us just avoid it to prevent inflammatory issues. If you are diagnosed celiac and have a true allergy, you will not be able to eat gluten, even occasionally.
If you are avoiding gluten due to an intolerance or sensitivity or preventively and you get your gut in shape and you might be able to enjoy some gluten again. When you do eat it, just monitor tolerance and listen to your body.
So what does that look like for us now?
We choose to eat gluten very minimally, despite my son being the only one at this point with a physical symptom. When we are at home we are 100% gluten free. When we are out, we will still strive to maintain gluten free choices, although usually my husband does not. As a family though, we will all indulge in gluten occasionally if we are out at certain restaurants. For example, we go to a middle eastern place to eat and my boys love their naan bread dipped in baba ganoush, which is an eggplant dip. We let them have it there and they understand elsewhere we remain gluten free.
Remember before you judge those choosing to eat gluten free, embrace learning and then make a decision for yourself. I am happy to guide you and share what I know. As one part of the Gut Health Reboot Program, I will dive deeper into the effects of gluten on the body and share some of our favorite recipes and store bought gluten free brands.