Gluten Free Me

Last week I made the decision to adopt a gluten free diet.

For those of you unfamiliar with what that actually means, here’s a quick primer.

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and in some instances, oats as well. It is present in pretty much anything and everything – bread, cakes, biscuits, gravies, sauces, ice cream, frozen chips, spreads, condiments, pastry and in some beverages like malted milk, beer and some chai teas. Gluten can also be found in medications and in some cosmetics too…

Given the prevalence of gluten in our modern diet, it can be really difficult, particularly when dining out, to find genuine gluten free options. As gluten is used as a thickening or binding agent in traditional baking and cooking, it can be very hard to avoid, particularly when you have to explain what gluten actually is to wait staff when out and about (sad but true!)

Believe me, if you haven’t experienced the joy of avoiding gluten while dining out or closely reading every single label in your overladen shopping trolley, you haven’t lived *sarcasm font*

So why have I decided to ditch gluten?

Gluten free

image source

Well it turns out that I am a “latent coeliac”. Coeliac disease is a condition where the body has an auto-immune response to gluten which leads to intestinal damage, malabsorption issues and  sometimes inflammation in other parts of the body. Diagnosis is made by taking a biopsy of the small bowel and confirming that intestinal damage is present.

In latent coeliac disease, antibodies are present in the blood (indicating an auto-immune response to gluten) but no discernible intestinal damage has yet occurred. In many cases of latent coeliac disease, an eventual full-blown diagnosis is inevitable as the disease becomes more active leading, eventually, to discernible intestinal damage.

While I don’t yet have full-blown coeliac disease I do have antibodies present in my blood as well as a few embarrassing and annoying symptoms that seem to be relieved when gluten is removed from my diet. Symptoms like uncontrollable flatulence and bloating. Very pleasant…not.

So balancing all that (plus the fact that I would prefer not to inflict damage on my body, if I can avoid it), I have decided to make the preemptive decision to adopt a gluten free lifestyle now, rather than later.

So I have enjoyed my last “real” sandwich and have grieved for the traditional hot cross buns that I will miss out on next year (truly a tragedy) and am focusing on becoming healthy again.

Apart from already feeling a little less smelly and uncomfortable, I’ve also found another unexpected benefit – I can no longer snack on my kids’ leftovers, a bad habit I had fallen into again recently. Hello weight control!

Do you have any experience in gluten free eating or cooking? Or do you have other fun dietary requirements? I would love to hear your experiences too!


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27 Responses

  1. I am on a similar path hon.. I was just diagnosed with pernicious anaemia which is an autoimmune illness something in my gut has been blocking absorption of B12 (critical for red blood cells and why I was exhausted and unwell so much this year and last). For now I am getting monthly shots for 3 months and removing obvious gluten, but the likely next step s endoscopy / biopsy of my gut in 3-4 months time. I tested negative for coeliac last year, but guessing it is a sensitivity or something else.
    So far I have been having gluten free versions of the big things like bread, pizza, crackers etc. big learning curve so I have got some ebooks on the iPad and some reading to do. Thinking of you too xxx
    Deb @ home life simplified recently posted..7 Lessons from the Problogger 2013 conference for bloggers and non-bloggers alike

    • Kirsty says:

      I hope you feel better soon Deb. At least you have some answers now, let’s hope you can get away without having to go down the gluten free road for life x

  2. No, but I had a friend diagnosed at 60 as coeliac, and then 5 years later (having cut out all gluten) cleared of the disease. Weird, hey? Apparently common…
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted..Censorship, Friendship and Facebook

  3. I was “accidentally” diagnosed as coeliac, and followed a gluten free diet for 2 years. It wasn’t so bad – apart from the fact the doctor was incompetent and I wasn’t at all. So strange.
    Bec | Mumma Tells recently posted..Mumma Bakes: Spaghetti Bolognese

    • Kirsty says:

      How bizarre Bec – I wonder how they could have got it so wrong? At least you were cleared of it and you are right, it’s getting easier and easier to find GF alternatives now.

  4. Me says:

    I have cut out wheat, dairy and sugar – with lapses every now and again !!!! I have tried some gluten free products but I think it is definitely an acquired taste. I haven’t cooked anything that is gluten free – I’ve pretty much just cut it out and done without.
    Wishing you a healthy body moving forward !
    Have the best day.
    Me recently posted..Confusion Reigns

  5. My mum has coeliac and I have the gene to get it. I too have some of the symptoms but don’t have the full blown coeliac yet. My mum was diagnosed 20 years ago and so much has changed since then, there is so much more available in supermarkets and cafes. It is great.
    Sam Stone @ A Life on Venus recently posted..And all that jazz….

    • Kirsty says:

      It is a lot better than what it was even 5 years ago Sam. Since my husband and I are now both coeliac we will have to keep an eye on the kids as they have a very real chance of developing it as well. Hopefully they’ll miss out – we’ll have to see…

  6. I haven’t had to cut out anything thankfully, although at the moment I’m trying to lose some of the baby weight so watching what I eat, controlling my portion sizes and not drinking any soft drink or juice is challenging enough right now! Especially as I’m so darn hungry from breastfeeding, all I want is chocolate! But I’m just trying to remind myself of the long term benefits of getting back to a healthy weight to keep up my motivation.

    #teamIBOT was here!
    Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions recently posted..The Circle of Life

    • Kirsty says:

      Good on you Kylez – it sounds like you are going about it the right way – good luck on the road to getting back to a healthy weight!

  7. Oh, I feel your pain!
    As you know I don’t have to avoid gluten, but I have an array of intolerances and have a list as long as I am tall of things to avoid.
    There are some great gluten free bakeries around, lots of options on the supermarket shelves and a growing number of restaurants have gluten free options on the menu.
    My intolerances aren’t as widely known and quizzing the wait staff is a never ending annoyance – particularly when they have no idea and you end up with exactly what you were trying to steer clear of, which you don’t necessarily know until it hits you. Very unpleasant!
    Good luck with it. It does get easier with time which is good, but it will always be a different kind of pain in the arse 🙂
    Take Charge Now recently posted..Viva Las Vegas!

    • Kirsty says:

      I really feel for you Becc – I suppose of all allergies and intolerances at least gluten is one of the most well known. And you are right, there are lots and lots of options now – I will definitely never go hungry!

  8. I think all the crap in our foods is killing us. That might be a bit of a controversial topic, but I believe it. It is making us sick, lazy, overweight, intolerant, our bodies weren’t made to digest so much CRAP. Good on you I say! But it is SO hard to really avoid it completely! We only have lactose free milk in this household, which visitors don’t handle very well! But drinking full cream or even skim milk makes me sick to my stomach. x Aroha
    Aroha @ Colours of Sunset recently posted..A to Z of Me: Part III

    • Kirsty says:

      Aroha, I share your belief that our over-processed diets are contributing to the growing number of people with intolerances and allergies. I want to get back to basics and eat less processed food for all our sakes, especially for the kids.

  9. I always think gluten intolerance is the worst.
    I had to give up dairy completely when breastfeeding Bridie as she has a casein intolerance. She can have a little milk now, but any more and it’s no fun for her at all 🙁
    EssentiallyJess recently posted..It’s This Time of Year #IBOT

    • Kirsty says:

      I had some concerns about Delilah when she was young – it seemed she had a casein intolerance too and needed specialist formula until she was 2. But she seems to have outgrown it now. At least there are viable options if you need to lead a gluten free diet. Although GF bread can never come near the softness of real bread…

  10. I have ‘fructose malabsorption’ – which means I get very sick when I eat some food such as onion. Onion is used in practically every pre-prepared food (supermarket or restaurant) so of I spend too much time eating away from home I usually end up sick.

    I did go gluten-free for a few weeks in the process of diagnosing the fructose issue and it was ok. I found the bread situation the hardest. The options to replace pasta etc were fine.
    Michelle Holland recently posted..Dealing with sick children

    • Kirsty says:

      My husband has been coeliac for 5 years now and we have not yet found a viable GF bread. Pretty much everything else is fine (pasta, cakes, etc) but bread seems to be the last frontier. I hadn’t thought to think much about onion but it would be in nearly everything – that would be hard to avoid, you have my sympathy Michelle!

  11. Hey gorgeous so I’m replying after having read on FB that you have coeliac confirmed – and to think that Nathan has it too – you were DEFINITELY meant to be. I bet you will miss all those things like crazy, but maybe once a month you can treat yourself?! Thinking of you – as if you need another challenge?! xx
    Emily @ Have a laugh on me recently posted..The phone call that put things in perspective at the ProBlogger Training Event

    • Kirsty says:

      It’s freaky that we both have coeliac disease. I must say I feel cheated that I can no longer point and laugh at him for his need for special dietary requirements now that I need them too!

  12. Annaleis says:

    Isn’t it nice to have the medical know how to be able to find these things out to help us make choices to be healthier. Goodluck with the journey.
    Annaleis recently posted..Brave Boy

  13. My sister trialled a gluten free diet with my nephew when he had some digestive issues. Wow, we didn’t realise how gluten is in EVERYTHING til then. I guess once you’re aware of what you can and can’t eat it would be easier but until then it must be a steep learning curve!
    Janet @ Redland City Living recently posted..Focus on Your Blogging Goals

  14. Kirsty says:

    Sometimes you will just know what sorts of foods are no good for you, allergy, intolerance or not. My son has an intolerance to amines which are found in chocolate, cheese, bananas, tomatoes and as flavour in a lot of processed food. If he has too much of it he goes hyper and his eczema gets worse. Trust your gut and give it a go – I hope you find the root cause soon x

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