Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It Takes Guts: Part 3- Gluten- The Smelly Cat

Ya'll are all good blog readers and you've already read Part1 and Part 2, and now you are ready to dig in, get down to the nitty gritty, pump up the jam pump it up, get this party started, and find out why I say things like "Gluten is the smelly cat."

Remember when Phoebe Buffay gave us the classic "Smelly Cat" song?
"Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smelly cat, it's not your fault!"
Well written Pheobe Buffay, and wise words to boot. 

Just like the smelly cat couldn't help that it was smelly, neither can gluten help that it is so glutenee.
(That is an official word.)
I feel bad for the gluten.  Really I do!
It's become such a hot topic these days and all it was trying to do is what God made it to do...
Hold dough together.

This is a good article that tells you what Gluten is.
Read it if you like, or here is an excerpt with the main point.
( I like to make things easy on you cause I'm cool like that.)

"Gluten is shorthand for a family of storage proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten proteins are found in the mature seed of these cereal grasses, which is what we refer to as the grain. Close relatives of wheat, such as spelt, triticale, kamut, farro, and einkorn, also contain gluten..."

So gluten is protein that binds. 

Kind of like the tie.  
Bad joke.
Gluten starts with "gl, as in glue, so you can think of gluten as the glue that gives baked goods their chewy yumminess.  
The problem is that this particular protein is hard on some guts, therefore producing yucky side effects.

Within gluten, there are 4 main proteins.

Wise Geek says this:

"Within gluten, there are actually four main proteins: albumins, glutelins, globulins, and prolamins. Glutelins and prolamins are found in higher concentrations in wheat, while albumins and globulins are more plentiful in corn and rice. Many people associate wheat with the term "gluten," however, as it is those proteins that are most directly related to health issues such as celiac disease. Glutelins, in particular, are dangerous for those susceptible to intolerance because of the way that acids in the body break them down.
Most of the protein in wheat — 80% — is made up of the prolamin called gliadin and the glutelin called glutenin. When these molecules are joined together due to a chemical reaction, they stretch and harden, allowing dough to form a light, airy loaf with a chewy texture. As a result, these proteins are commonly found in flour and other baking products."

Like I said, gluten is the smelly cat and gets a bad wrap.  It's really the combo of some of the proteins in the gluten that is causing the problems.
But why now are these gluten proteins causing such a hard time for people?        

  There is a lot of info out there to suggest that todays wheat is not the same as the wheat of the past.       
This article is interesting and gives a brief history of wheat.  

"Wheat today is different than it was 100 years ago. It’s got more gluten in it! Until the 1870s, almost all U.S. wheat production consisted of “soft wheat” varieties. A “hard spring wheat” variety (originally from Central Europe) with a higher protein content (aka gluten) was introduced in the U.S. in the mid-1800s."

A lot has changed in our world in the past 100 years, so it is only logical to agree that our food system has changed too.  These changes have brought about the good and the bad, and in the case of this crazy gluten protein, it has brought about the ugly.  Like I said, it's not the gluten's fault, it's the fault of the changes that have been made to it in order to accommodate the vast demand for it.                                   
Unfortunately for many of us,  our guts can't handle this change and therefore enters the rise of gluten intolerance. 

This article talks about this very issue  and gives us this:

"First, let’s be clear about what gluten intolerance is. It isn’t a food allergy. It’s a physical condition in your gut. Basically, undigested gluten proteins (prevalent in wheat and other grains) hang out in your intestines and are treated by your body like a foreign invader, irritating your gut and flattening the microvilli along the small intestine wall. Without those microvilli, you have considerably less surface area with which to absorb the nutrients from your food. This leads sufferers to experience symptoms of malabsorption, including chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, nausea, skin rashes, depression, and more."

And all this time you thought I was allergic to gluten!
In the beginning I thought I was too.
However, as I have learned and studied more about it, I have learned that it isn't an allergy.
There is a difference between gluten intolerance and a wheat allergy.

"Wheat allergy is most common in children, and is usually outgrown before reaching adulthood, often by age three. Symptoms of a wheat allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis."

Just like most allergies, a wheat allergy can be and most likely will be, outgrown.
Gluten intolerance will not be outgrown as it is an autoimmune issue.
Even after getting your gut healthy (remember, we are going to talk about that in depth in part 4)
if gluten is an issue for you, you should avoid it permanently. 
I admit, I have said to people when it comes to my daughter, that she allergic to gluten.  
Honestly, it's just easier that way.  People understand a little better the term "allergy" and seem to take it more seriously.  But now you know that gluten intolerance is an autoimmune response and the body treating gluten like a foreign invader.  It takes a long time to heal the gut from the damage that has been done due to the body attacking these foreign invaders, and when you ingest more gluten, more damage is done.  

What is that gluten doing to you?

The side effects of gluten intolerance are probably not what you think. 

When I say gluten intolerance, what do you automatically think?
(You can text me your answer before moving on if that makes you feel better.)

Now, I know what you are thinking.

Yes, going off the gluten has made me a physic.
Not to be confused with psycho.  
Know the difference. 
*P.S.  Thank you to my smart husband for telling me how to spell those two big words.*

Back to what I know you are thinking...
You are thinking upset stomach.


That is what most people think of when they think about somebody having issues with gluten.
But alas, I am here to tell you that gluten intolerance encompasses so much more.
Check out these pictures and read for yourself:

I have friends that eat gluten free because of exczema, IBS, joint pain, fibromyalgia, other digestive issues, and migraines, and have seen a lot of difference! 

However gluten free is not the only solution for these issues, just a great start.  I've said it once and I'll say it a million times, you have to heal the gut! 
Oh, and bless your heart, now I'm really gonna mess things up and say that there are other things you have to give up in order to heal.  But since I don't want to overwhelm you right now, we are just in baby step one and that is remove the gluten. Baby steps.

Now before you go poo pooing all this away, let me encourage you to keep an open mind.
I bet some of these things you have never associated with a gluten issue before.
I know I hadn't!
Remember back to part 2 on our story.  I thought gluten intolerance meant loose bowels, not all of this other crap  stuff.

But what if, just maybe, there was some truth to some of these other symptoms?
Why in the world would gluten effect behavior, sinus's, skin, or any of these other things?
We're going to unravel that a lot more in Part 4 about the gut and Part 5 about autoimmune disease, but for now you need to know that the gut plays a major roll in this whole gluten and feeling bad thing.
Got it?
Good!  Ya'll are good learners.

Alright, enough with the facts!  Suffice it to say, there is much information out there about the whole gluten intolerance thing.  I think that more and more doctors are beginning to educate themselves on the matter and are understand the importance of considering a gluten free diet to treat a myriad of symptoms.  My personal Dr. is all for me eating gluten free.  He even thinks I have Celiacs Disease, even though I have not been tested and at this point, will not be tested.  

 I know. 
 I just threw in another component to this already confusing gluten thing. 
Yeah, I'll get to that in part 5- Autoimmune disease.  
Yep, we are in this for the long haul!  I know you are excited.
Now let me see that smile!  

Anyhoo....back to the doctors.  I think that more doctors are open to the idea of looking at gluten intolerance in relation to many health issues, however....
Remember back in part 2 when I talked about our story?
When it came to the issues of my daughter, I was uneducated and relied solely on what the doctors said.  Those experience have taught me that I know my symptoms and the symptoms of my children, better than any doctor out there and I need to take a more proactive stance in our health.  
Educate yourself and do your due diligence of research.  
It's the Internet age and there is a lot of info out there and it's not all good.  It's not all bad either, you just have to do your part to put all the pieces together.
Like I said before, that does not negate the importance of doctors, but I think it is important to find a doctor that is open to the possibilities your diet is playing into your health.
I also think it is important to find a doctor that listens, cares, and takes into account your thoughts and concerns. 
And doesn't treat you like you are an idiot.

Alrighty then.

Now what?

A) I've laid some things out for you and you have identified one or more symptoms that you have and think maybe you could benefit from eating gluten free.

B)  I've laid some things out for you and you are now at least open to the idea that I am not as crazy as you once thought and you've decided to extend me some grace on why I do what I do.

C)  I've laid some things out for you and you are at least interested in learning more and are excited for part 4 when we start really getting the gut involved in all this.

D) Your opinion on gluten and my craziness has not changed one bit and you are happy with your life the way it is.

If you answered A, B, or C, then let's get started!

If you answered D, then no hard feelings, and please read part 4 when we talk about the gut.  Mkay?!

How to start removing gluten from your diet.

First, you need to know that in the beginning this is not going to be easy, so don't expect it to be. 
Don't get frustrated and don't give up!
You are going to fail, but that is OK!  Failure is part of any process.
The good news for you, is that I already failed a lot, so I'm here to help you not fail as much.  
That's what friends are for. (Dionne Warwick said so.)

The first thing you need to look at is what you eat on a daily basis.  

Remember back in part 1 when I gave you homework and told you to think about your top ten things you eat and drink?
Write those things down.
How many of those things contain gluten?
Do you even know?
Remember, gluten is in Wheat, Barley, and Rye.
Many products that you wouldn't think contain gluten, do in fact contain it.  
Here is a chart to give you an idea. 
(*This is not a comprehensive chart!  This is just to get you started on places to look.)

Now, lets say that of the ten things you wrote down, 7 of them contain gluten.
First of all, don't freak out.  You are not going to starve or die.
What can you replace those 7 things with?
There is a gluten free replacement for almost everything out there, you just have to look for it.
Most grocery stores have a small gluten free section.
Gluten free foods have come a long way and although at the beginning you may think they taste a lot different, I think you will find that in some instances they taste just as good, if not better!
For instance.  If you love Ritz crackers, there is a brand called Glutino, that makes really good crackers. They make excellent peanut butter crackers and are also great crushed up as a topping for casseroles.

Van's makes awesome cheese crackers that I think are better than cheese-its and I used to love me some cheese-its.
Are Oreos your fave?  Have no fear!
These gluten free oreos are amazing!

Maybe you are a big cereal person.
Chex brand has a ton of gluten free varieties, so you can still have your morning bowl of cereal.

Do you love oatmeal?
Oats is one of those foods that is technically gluten free.
HOWEVER, and you really don't want to miss this however, oats are typically grown in the same fields as wheat in the wheat off season, or more than likely is processed on the same equipment as wheat.
So if you love your oatmeal, get some certified gluten free oatmeal.
There are several good brands out there and most stores have at least one.
Bobs Red Mill makes a good bag of rolled oats so you can do them yourself.

What about pizza?  At our house, we have pizza every Saturday night.
 You have several options.  One, is a frozen pizza.  It's a little pricey (Around $6), but is good in a pinch, or if you have a function to go to where everybody is going to be eating pizza.
I make pizza using this mix from Chebe.  It's a great price from Amazon for an 8 pack, and one pizza feeds my whole family. Plus since I make it myself, everybody can have their part like they like it.  One pizza, four different ways.  
                                                        That's how we roll. 


How about bread?  You love your sandwiches and burgers right?
Udi's has great bread and you won't even miss "real" bread.

I love the hamburger buns!  Great burgers.
The bread you have to experiment with.
They make great grilled or toasted sandwiches!
For just a regular sandwich, it sometimes breaks, so it is usually best  when toasted a bit. I've also used Tapioca bread and it was the best peanut butter and honey sandwich I've ever had. Honestly!
Contrary to popular belief, giving up gluten doesn't mean you have to give up bread.  You just have to try a different kind! 
There is life outside of gluten and you may actually find that you prefer it!

What about eating out?
We as a society are obsessed with eating out, whether that be for social reasons or matters of convenience, we eat out a lot.  So what do you do?
The good news is that most restaurants have caught on to the whole gluten thing and have a list of their foods that are gluten free.  All you have to do is ask for the list.  There are still some places that don't have a gluten free selection and you either don't go to those places, or you bring your own food.

Yep, I've done that.  

We went to Chuy's for a birthday party and I brought Lana and I Chic-Fil-A.
I went to a a Chinese restaurant once and brought my own chicken salad and crackers.
I didn't care because I have gotten to the point in my journey that I don't miss those foods because I hated the way I felt when I was eating them.

Mexican and Chinese are the two hardest to eat out at.  
Mexican restaurants will a lot of times use a combo of wheat tortillas and corn tortillas to make their tortilla chips.  They also use wheat in their taco seasoning.  
Never fear, you can easily make your own Mexican at home!
Chinese is hard because of the sauces and a lot of food being breaded.  
Soy sauce usually contains wheat.  
PF Changs is a great place to eat because they take this gluten thing very seriously, and have a GF menu and prepare things separately.  
At home you can make your own Chinese food and they do make GF soy sauce.

I admit, there are certain days and certain foods that I would love to have.
Lana and I play a game sometimes, and mind you we don't do it very often less we drive ourselves crazy, where we pick 3 foods we would eat that day if they wouldn't make us sick.
Almost always, my number one is a Chic-Fil-A sandwich.

Let's change the subject.

Cross Contamination:

I've mentioned cross contamination.
What is that?
It's when your gluten free food comes in contact with gluten or surfaces/utensils that have also been used for gluten full food.

For example:
Toasters- This is a big one.  In our house we have two toasters.  One is marked gluten free and the other is for gluten full.

Think about if you put a piece of gluten free bread in your regular toaster, it is going to get crumbs on it from the last piece of bread that was in there.
Think also about your cutting boards and utensils while you cook (don't stir the macaroni with the same spoon you are stirring your broccoli).  Obviously this is if you are cooking both gluten filled and gluten less foods in your kitchen.

For us, I am not cooking two meals for dinner, so we eat all of our dinners gluten free.
( The teenage boy eats his gluten full stuff for lunch and breakfast, but somehow never misses it for dinner.  Hmmmm.....)
There have been times when we have company coming, or some kind of event and I am asked to make mac n cheese or something gluteney.  I always make my gluten free foods first and then make the gluten full ones last.  Always make sure you spray down your counters and clean them real good and then wash your rags.  Don't keep using them because they have been contaminated.  

I know to some of you this all sounds crazy, but what if a roach got into your box of rice?
Would you just throw out the roach and keep the rice or would you see the whole box of rice as contaminated? 
Please, for the love of all that is good and right, tell me that you said you would throw out the whole box!  
I. am. begging. you.
It's the same with gluten foods coming in touch with non gluten foods.

Lana has gotten sick, to the point of having to stay in bed all day, just from cross contamination.
Sad but true.

Cross contamination is a big problem in manufacturing as well.
There are many foods out on the market, that technically are gluten free in what they are, but they are processed on machinery that also processes gluten stuff. 
This is where a lot of people find themselves in trouble, and wind up staying sick when they think they are eating gluten free.
It is also why reading labels is important.  
This is a good overview of words to look out for.
Remember, wheat, barley, and rye.  These are always to be avoided.
Malt  is made from barley.  
The term "modified food starch" is one of these crazy things that can mean anything, so unless it specifies that starch as "corn" or some other non gluten starch, you need to stay away from it.

If you have any questions about all that, just ask me :)

I'm about to really rock your world!
(Actually, I'm just going to give you some advice)

-Going gluten free is not a weight loss program.

-It's not the answer to every ones problems.

-It's a baby step in an overall health plan.

-If you choose to go gluten free, you need to give it at least 2 full weeks and you can't cheat.

- If you try to change too many things in your life at one time, you will fail at all of them, but if you 
change just one thing at a time, you have a greater chance at success.  

- You're going to learn in part 4 that you have to heal your gut and that is going to take time.

- Processed food is still processed food, whether it is gluten free or not.  It's always better to eat whole/natural/clean foods. 

- I know I just gave you pictures of processed gluten free foods that you can replace your other processed foods with, but that is because if you are already eating a lot of processed foods, I don't expect you to give them all up and just start eating clean.  You want a plan that is manageable, and for now that might mean replacing regular processed foods with gluten free processed foods.  In a few months that will hopefully mean replacing your gluten free processed foods with more natural foods.

- Don't get overwhelmed by the process.  This is all about baby steps.  
Remember Bob in the movie "What about Bob?" 
Baby steps to remove gluten, baby steps to heal the gut, baby steps to identify my food issues, baby steps to feeling better, baby steps to eating healthier.  Getting yourself healthy for the rest of your life is all about the baby steps.  

- If you have a gluten intolerance, you have a lot of healing to do and it's not going to happen over night.  Do not expect over night results.  Again, look at this as a baby step to an over all health plan.

- Throughout the course of the rest of this series, I hope that you will see that gluten free is not the end all to be all. There are many more aspects to our health and eating that we need to consider. In my own journey, going gluten free has just been baby step number one.

- I don't expect you to do everything the way that I do it.

- I would love for you to be open minded and consider making one change.

- I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

- There is so much more that could be said, but I fear that I have overwhelmed you already.  
Seriously, if you have any questions, please just ask.
When I first started 2 years ago, I really had just about no idea what I was doing.  
Honestly, I didn't understand what I was getting myself in to.  
I thought I'd remove gluten and that would be all.
I've learned a lot through research, trial and error, and lots of other people.  

I still have a long way to go, but I'm doing it in baby steps and as part of an overall plan to improve my health, and the health of my family.  

I do have a teenage son, and I do still buy him crap to eat.  But I've also replaced a good bit of stuff that he eats in a slow gradual process. I've made a lot of changes for him by simply replacing things he likes with something better for him.  I'm hoping that by the time he is grown, he will see the importance of making healthier decisions for himself.  
If not, I hope he marries a wife that fix him if I can't by then.
Kidding!  I'm kidding!
Not really, but I'm kidding. 

One more thing before I send you on your merry way.
Making any change in your life, and in particular your eating habits, is not a passive decision.  
You will have to be proactive and you will have to plan.
Like I said before, baby steps.  Don't think you have to buy every gluten free thing out there.
Get one or two things and go from there.
If you know you are going to be gone for the day, bring your lunch and some healthy snacks.
Don't go out and find yourself without any thing or without a plan.
Get yourself a little insulated lunch bag.  It will be your new best friend.

Part 3- done. ish. 
I'm really excited about part 4 when we talk about the gut.
I've learned a lot about the gut through my sister, so maybe I can get her to give us some good advice too.

Tata for now!  Go enjoy your gluten free day!

1 comment:

Denise said...

Wow, thanks for sharing such helpful information.