Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing the nutrients in food that are essential for humans to stay healthy. While there is no cure for Celiac Disease, there is a treatment: Maintaining a strict Gluten Free(GF) Diet for the rest of your life.
The more that I research Gluten Free dieting, the more I see a lot of misconceptions that people have when it comes to Celiac Disease and Gluten Free dieting:
1) "Eating Gluten Free can help you lose weight."
Not necessarily. If you look at the ingredients in baked goods, some of them use a stick or two of butter, or an extra cup or two of sugar. While some GF foods are very healthy, just like in a regular diet, there are some unhealthy food options. People who eat GF have been known to gain weight. In order to be successful at losing weight, while being gluten free, you have to stick with the foods that are naturally gluten free: meats, dairy, vegetables, fruit, and rice.
2) "One regular meal won't hurt you."
False. There is a small amount of Celiacs, like me, that are extremely sensitive to the point that even a crumb of gluten can cause relapse that lasts for DAYS, even months. My longest "glutening" relapse lasted 3 or 4 MONTHS! It was pretty much hell. I had to stay hydrated and my potassium levels had to be monitored.
3) "Gluten Free food is nasty."
Not all of it is nasty. While some baked goods (bread, etc) can be hard as a rock, there are some brands that are amazing. I recommend Bisquick Gluten Free pancakes. It is actually much tastier than regular pancakes.
4) "You can't eat at restaurants, right?"
False. There are more restaurants offering GF options. However, restaurants don't make any guarantees that the GF food hasn't come into contact with food containing gluten. Every GF menu I've seen has that disclaimer and it also advises that you eat at your own risk. I've eaten at several restaurants since my diagnosis, and most of them I have gotten sick from. Eating out is a risk us Celiacs take. The only popular chain I've had NO problems with is Outback Steakhouse. They have been wonderful with not cross-contaminating GF food.
5) "They make GF oats, so you can have granola and oatmeal, right?"
Yes and no. Yes, they make GF oats, but, not everyone is able to have them without problems. Some end up with painful stomach issues, others were able to build up a tolerance to it. When I was first diagnosed, I had an issue with GF oats. It took me a few years to build up a tolerance to it. I'm able to tolerate GF oats from specific brands. Others, not so much. This is another area where people have to be careful. What I did could be considered reckless, but I haven't had any issues since I built up a tolerance.
6) Celiac Disease is the same as a gluten/wheat allergy.
WRONG! This is my biggest pet peeve, as it downplays the severity of Celiac Disease. Complications from Celiac Disease can be serious, even fatal in rare cases. Gluten actually DESTROYS the villi in the small intestine in Celiac Disease patients, the villi being the only way humans absorb nutrients. In those suffering from gluten/wheat allergies, they endure the reactions of being exposed to gluten, without the long-term consequences.
There are many more misconceptions about Gluten Free dieting, but these are the most common ones I have come across. Living day to day with Celiac Disease and eating GF is a tough road to travel, but, it's worth it in the end.
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