I hear this all the time: “Well, I’m sort-of gluten-free.” Is that like being sort-of pregnant? If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, there is no such thing as sort-of gluten-free—you can get violently ill. However, there are many other diseases caused by inflammation where a gluten-free diet can really help.
What exactly is gluten?
Gluten is the name for proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. It helps foods maintain their shape, essentially being the “glue” to hold things together.
What does it mean to be gluten-free?
I often hesitate to tell people I am gluten-free. I usually just say I don’t eat gluten. When someone is told to go gluten-free, they tend to go to the grocery store and buy all the gluten-free products on the shelves: pretzels, cookies, crackers, etc.
Most gluten-free products still have all the preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients that regular packaged foods have.
When I gave up gluten, I ate more fruits and vegetables and found alternatives to other foods such as quinoa, quinoa pasta, or red lentil pasta. (You are, after all, really only tasting the yummy toppings on the pasta.) The only gluten-free products I will eat are homemade or from bakeries that I know for sure are gluten-free. Beware of cross contamination. When I eat out, I usually tell the waiter/waitress that I have gluten and dairy allergies.
There was one time when I ordered a gluten-free pizza with veggies (no cheese, of course) and a salad. The waiter brought the salad first and it was loaded with croutons. I thought, “Hmmm, I’m not sure the waiter understood. I am not sort-of gluten-free sir, I am gluten-free.” I very nicely asked him to take the salad back and explained why. He said, “I didn’t know croutons had gluten in them.” Huh! Really? I never get angry or upset; I just use these moments as opportunities to educate more people about gluten.
This brings me to my next point: not only do you, as an individual, need to be educated about gluten but restaurants claiming to be gluten-free or to serve gluten-free products also need to educate their staff. Gluten is no joke.
If you do not have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity but are struggling with another chronic illness, give it a try. I am here to help you every step of the way. Reduce your inflammation and you’ll feel great. Don’t be sort-of anything. Go full throttle and declare with conviction, “I eat NO gluten!” You’ll feel amazing—not just sort-of amazing!