Gluten Free by Choice or Necessity?

Started by TheMenuMom , author of The Menu Mom | Recipes | Menu Planing 11/16/2011 9:05:06 AM

I am still learning about the gluten free lifestyle - I actually do more of a no flour, no sugar lifestyle at this point, but I am enjoying learning about the gluten free journey.  For those of you who absolutely must eat gluten free, I am so glad that there are more and more resources becoming available for you! 

So tell me a bit about yourself - do you absolutely have to eat GF, or is this a choice for you? 

If this is a lifestyle choice, are you super careful , or do you just do your best?  Because it would be a lifestyle choice for me, I am not sure if I would be as dedicated about cross-contamination possibilities, but rather would just do my best to avoid gluten foods.  (I understand this is a luxury that many of you can not take, and many would consider that type of living not gluten free)

For those of you who eat GF out of necessity, how do you feel about those who simply do it out of choice?  Do you feel GF is becoming a bit of a fad?   

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Reply by Jenni

author of Gluten Free Kitchens 11/16/2011 11:50:46 AM

For me it started out as a choice.  I had been suffering from some chronic pain issues and happened across an article that recommended a gluten free diet for dealing with pain.  After about a month of being completely gluten free I accidentally "glutened" myself and had an anaphylactic reaction.  Seems I was allergic to wheat all along.  My chronic pain issues improved dramatically and I am cautious to keep a completely gluten free home.  This means we don't eat at restaurants any more but we have found we have a lot more fun entertaining friends in our home and its a lot less expensive than going out all the time.


Reply by Laura

11/16/2011 1:05:40 PM

Do I absolutely have to eat GF or is this a choice? For me personally it's a little bit of both. My mom had me on a GF diet when I was younger as my youngest brother & I have Autism. She heard that the diet could help us (not cure us, just be more comfortable). Of course in the early-mid 90's there were not as many options nor were they tasteful, and as picky eaters as kids, we didn't like it. She gave up and let us eat our own ways. A few years ago when I was living on campus at a college I was attending, I started noticing that every time I ate I always was extremely bloated (even if it wasn't a large meal), exhausted, had stomach cramps, diarrhea, couldn't concentrate or remember things, and just feet like my body was holding on to everything it just ate instead of digesting it (I gained a lot of weight and could never lose it). After months of this happening & moving out into an apartment, I slowly started to see the foods causing the most problems had gluten in them. I decided to try going gluten-free just to see if it would make any difference. While it was difficult to resist "glutenized" foods at first, it got easier. I noticed a lot of changes within the first 10 days and the next time I went home to visit my family, my mom noticed too. I had more energy, was more alert, I didn't have intestinal problems as much, and I was actually losing weight. When I went for a check-up at the doctor a couple of months later, I had lost 10 pounds by then but was more healthy. I told them about my GF diet and why I did it. They decided to test me for Celiac's, which of course came back negative. I thought it was pointless they tested me since if I was pretty much clear of gluten for 2 months, they're not going to pick up on it. As such, I never went on an all-gluten diet just to get it done again. I know my body is MUCH more happier being gluten-free and just assume it's an intolerance.

Since it is mostly a lifestyle choice, at times I am super careful and others I just do my best. When I first started I was extremely diligent for the first few months - separate pans from roommate, no restaurants. However this made me get bored quite quickly with food options - I felt like I was in a "rut", only having so many meal options and recipes. I wasn't much of a cook before so it was harder to add variety. When spring came around, I started to be lax. I'd have a piece of food that had some amount of gluten in it here & then. Eventually that grew into one thing a few times a week to once a day to a few items a day. Because it was slowly building up in my body again the changes weren't as easy to detect, until a couple months later when I noticed I put on weight, was having stomach problems every day and I even looked bloated in pictures!

Since this summer I've been balancing between an all-or-nothing approach. Now the majority of my food choices are gluten-free - 90% of the time I will deliberately choose gluten-free options. 10% of the time is having a bite of something a friend baked or cooked to "try it", or going out to eat and ordering something that would be gluten-free but realizing there is cross-contamination from cooking. I realize those with Celiac's that this isn't possible, and at times I DO notice the cross-contamination or gluten a couple hours later, but I try to make the most and best of what I can in the environment I'm in. It's part lifestyle choice, part necessity. These days I have more of a firm mind-set that it is now a necessity, just for my own health reasons. I think those who do it out of choice are probably trying to see if it would benefit them or a loved one in some way, and as long as it does help others feel more comfortable and peaceful in their body, that's all that matters.


Reply by Emily

11/16/2011 2:00:24 PM
My 12 year old has Celiacs and we have no choice but to be gf and cross contamination is a HUGE issue with us, (my son is a Vegan, so you can see how meal times are a challange in our home!) I like that alot of people are going GF by choice it opens up manufactures to create more GF products and better prices. FYI: Just watch sugar content as more people go GF the manufactures try and make the GF stuff taste better by adding copious amounts of SUGAR!


Reply by Tracey

11/16/2011 2:24:43 PM
I do completely grain and sugar-free. The problem with many approaches to gluten-free is that the substitute flours are really bad for your blood sugars, which brings its own whole set of problems. I also don't eat potatoes.


Reply by Jennifer

11/16/2011 2:38:48 PM
My 11yo son is celiac and was diagnosed at the age of 2 so for him it is not a choice. Most of the time the whole family eats gluten free but occassionally I make 2 different things of the same meal.


Reply by Fairmont

11/16/2011 5:38:17 PM
For me, I have a Wheat allergy (anaphylactic type), so going gluten free wasn't a "choice"... there seems to be a growing concern of Gluten issues in America- it is now 1 in 133 being diagnosed with a gluten problem, that's a lot of people. Is it becoming a "fad"? It depends on who you talk to... someone who suffers and has trouble finding foods they like that they can eat or those who just want to try it as a diet then go back because it's so expensive.


Reply by Peggy

11/16/2011 9:29:59 PM
I have sarcoidosis and rheumatoid arthritis. My doctor put me on a gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free diet in August. It has been 3 1/2 months and I am feeling so much better. My pain is less, my energy is better and my auto-immune systems have decreased. The rest of my family is not gluten-free. I love to cook and therefore make most meals gluten free and the rest of my family doesn't even realize it :) When it comes to breads, I usually make 2 kinds - 1 gluten free and 1 regular for everyone else. Eating out is difficult, but I prefer to eat at home anyway. It is definitely worth the challenges of cooking gluten free to feel better.


Reply by Bridgette

11/16/2011 11:04:04 PM
While my son and I are celiacs so have no choice in gluten free living, I welcome the people who choose to eat gluten free by choice. As far as being a fad, there is far too many people whom, while are not celiacs, have some degree of gluten sensitivity, so I applaud them for taking the difficult step of living a gluten free lifestyle. Also, there is power in numbers and the more people who demand gluten free products, the better for all of us.


Reply by Jo-Lynne

author of Musings of a Housewife 11/17/2011 12:05:28 PM

I started out being very strict - as it was an experiment to see if I was truly sensitive to it. I have lightened up a lot, as I can tell that cross contamination isn't a big deal for me, and I'm thankful for that! So I guess at this point it is choice. I just feel better without it.


Reply by Jacqueline

11/17/2011 12:27:18 PM

Not by choice.  I was officially diagnosed with Celiac Spure 9 years ago.  I will be planning on going sugar free in the new year 

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