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Making Sense of a Life-Changing Event

Posted May 10 2013 11:00am

wpid wheat field Making Sense of a Life Changing Event

Recently, I found out that I am gluten intolerant. After years of unattributed symptoms, I finally know why I haven’t reached my wellness potential. I have been gluten free for two months now. The results showed up immediate and have appeared later as my body has healed.

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
The symptoms vary, depending upon the underlying cause. With celiac disease, actual damage occurs in the small intestine, the site where 40 to 90 percent of nutrient absorption occurs. What you end up experiencing is the effects of nutrient deficiencies caused by malabsorption. They run the gambit from gastrointestinal complaints to skin conditions to fatigue.

That is part of the problem with the initial diagnosis; the symptoms are not necessarily diagnostic of the condition. GI symptoms, for example, can point to a myriad of health conditions. Unless a doctor knows about it, she may not associate skin conditions with something as seemingly out there as celiac disease. The association people have, after all, tends to be strictly GI-related, which is certainly not the case.

Dietary Changes
Going gluten free presents challenges. You go from blindly adding items in your shopping cart to scrutinizing every label. Studying label offers one advantage in that at least you will be more aware of what is in your food. You have the chance to learn about calories, sodium and nutritional value, which is certainly good. Eating out, I’ve found, presents the greatest challenges.

Cross Contamination Minefield
More and more, restaurants are becoming aware of gluten intolerance and food sensitivities in general. However, you may find that the average server doesn’t know about cross contamination. The other day, we went out to eat at the local watering hole.

I asked for a burger without the bun. The server later came back with my burger–on a bun. She quickly apologized and brought it back to the kitchen. The kitchen staff took it off the bun, added a little more lettuce and sent it back. So did I. Even that brief contact meant I was ingesting some gluten. I later got a freshly prepared burger.

The takeaway message is that you must say you have dietary considerations. It’s not enough to order what you think may be gluten free. I hate to equate it to an allergy, which it is not; however, people get allergies. Many may not know what intolerance means.

The big test comes next month when we will be on vacation for 10 days. Hopefully, gluten will not be on the menu.

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