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Gluten Free/Casein Free and Allergy testing

Posted Oct 16 2009 10:01pm

These are the words that have set fear in my heart for almost 3 years! I have dreaded this day.  I have not had a smooth gluten free road.  For many who are diagnosed with celiac or gluten intolerance, the minute they stop eating gluten they are miraculously well!  But for some, the road is a bit more bumpy.  I am one of those.  

I personally hear this from people who are older and have had symptoms for a long time before being diagnosed.  I think when your body is under attack for so long, it has a hard time becoming normal again.  Think of a soldier that's been in battle and comes back to a normal life.  Every loud noise they hear is still a battle noise.  Somehow they just can't leave it behind.  I think when the body has perceived things entering your body as an enemy, it has a hard time letting go of that.  

When I was first diagnosed, I was told to give up dairy along with gluten.  Well, that made my head spin.  I just couldn't handle it.  I didn't have any proof I needed to give up dairy anyway accept for the fact that a large percent of those who are Celiac or gluten intolerant can not handle casein either because the protein is very similar in structure to gluten.  

So, I set off on a gluten free only journey.  I felt so good for a while as all the symptoms of illness just melted away.  But, slowly, other problems crept back in.  I was sure I wasn't getting any gluten in my diet.  That's when I went for the allergy testing and found 15 foods I was allergic to.  Cutting those things out made me mostly well again, but there were still some issues.  Now, deep down I knew.  I even tried a two week stint on casein free and knew I felt a bit better.  At that time, I didn't get have allergy testing for milk/casein so I still didn't feel any need to avoid it, and with having to avoid 15 foods plus gluten, trying to avoid cheese was enough to send me over the edge.  

To be honest, I really didn't want to know.  I love cheese.  If I didn't know it's bad for my body, I didn't have to face it right?  Well, that caught up with me.  I finally got allergy tested for milk.  I know I will get email asking what type of test so, it was an ImmunoCAP Allergy testing.  I had the food allergy panel.  This test is for some of the major food allergens.  This is a traditional allergy test.  On most allergy tests, you are only allergic if you are 3 and above.  The higher the number gets, the more likely it is that you are very allergic to that food.  I my milk score was 32.  Blah.  

Food allergy symptoms can be as serious as anaphylactic shock, or less serious would be nausea, diarrhea, rash, itchy eyes, runny nose or achy joints.  I fall in the really, really achy joint category.  

What you have to remember about allergy tests is that they are really a guide.  There can be a lot of false positives.  It's not an exact science.  If you have had either the skin prick test or blood test for allergens, most doctors will recommend you to avoid the foods on your allergic list for a period of time to see if you get better.  If you are not having a severe reaction (anaphylaxis) to the food, your doctor will have you challenge each of your allergens to see if that food is really making you sick.  Doctors do NOT recommend a food challenge with someone who has life threatening symptoms from their allergies.  Do not attempt this!  But for those who don't, there might be some things on your list that you are not reacting to and the only way to know that is to challenge that food.  

Also, with foods that you are not having severe reactions to, after avoiding that food for a period of time, you can usually add that food back in your diet as long as you're not eating too it often.  You might find there are some things you just can't add back no matter how long you go without eating them.  

Food allergies can be a very frustrating thing because of the fact the testing is just not always clear.  For some, a food elimination diet can be helpful.  If you are in this type of situation right now, I feel you pain!  As hard as going gluten free was, for me, after having these allergies, gluten free seems so easy now!  

What does it mean to be allergic to milk?  That means avoiding all dairy products.  That means looking for the milk protein casein.  It can hide in many, many things!  Thus, my new challenge.  I am a cheese head.  I lourve cheese!  I know so many of you who are gluten free are also casein free and feel my pain.  

Right now, I'm not trying many of the fake cheeses.  I think they are gross!  I have purchased a book called "Go Dairy Free".  It's been very helpful and I've tried some of the cheese sauce recipes which so far have been fairly yummy.  Especially the nacho sauce.  

Luckily, I have already experimented a little bit with dairy free because my son and mother are both allergic to dairy.  My son has totally fallen off the wagon and is ignoring the fact that he has a dairy allergy.  My mom has the philosophy of just cutting back.  I tested way more allergic to it than they did, so I am on total avoidance for now.  

Over the weekend I made the family pizza.  Instead of adding fake cheese to mine, I just made it cheese free.  I put a bunch of my favorite stuff on it to make it more appetizing.  I used Carol Fenster's crust, which is good all by itself.  Yes, those are almonds.  Yum. 


Another recipe I've been experimenting with is a family favorite bread recipe.  I posted not too long ago about these weird little things we love so much.  The recipe calls for two cups of Parmesan!  That's what gives it the flavor!  One my first attempt at this conversion I added almond flour to replace the Parmesan.  Really, it gives the little breads a great texture.  I'll continue to experiment and when I come up with something good, I'll be sure to post the recipe.  This had really become my go to recipe for a while because it was good, quick, and easy.  

So, until further notice, all recipes here will be not only gluten free but casein free as well.  I know it's going to take a lot of experimenting so I hope I will have some good recipes to post.  I'm also just now getting around to a blog make over.  How do you like my new banner?

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