Apr 18 2012
Gluten has proven to be my own personal ticking time bomb. Are you thinking of removing gluten from your diet? Know the facts first.
I know what you’re thinking. Not another gluten free extremist! What is up with all of these gluten free people lately?
I thought the same way just a few months ago. Everything in moderation. Moderation was key. Well, I was wrong.
Just a few months ago, I knew I had a gluten or wheat sensitivity, but nothing major. I could eat whole grains without any severe symptoms, just little things like indigestion or a bit of dragging energy. I noticed I performed better at sports and activities when I removed grains from my diet, so I would purposefully remove grains from my diet for about half of every month. Not because I had to, just because I noticed I felt better.
I didn’t buy special gluten free oats, or check the labels of soy sauce. I didn’t worry about what “natural thickeners” meant when listed in the ingredients of seemingly healthy foods.
I wasn’t gluten free. I wasn’t wheat free. I didn’t have any severe symptoms, just little nagging things that would pop up every now and then. Nothing like hives, or swollen lymph nodes, or any inflammation that I honestly noticed at all.
I thought that all of the hype about going gluten free was just that, hype. True Celiac’s patients were one thing, but going gluten free by choice was just something that alarmists or extremists did.
The Tipping Point
Now it’s completely different. Physically and mentally. My body seems to have hit a tipping point.
Gluten – The Ticking Time Bomb
The Hives – Tick Tick Boom
Now my little gluten or wheat sensitivity has become a much larger gluten or wheat sensitivity.
Now I do break out in hives. Now I do have inflammation, throughout my entire body. Now I do have swollen lymph nodes from just a taste of gluten or of wheat.
Now I do have the check the labels. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I honestly just want to pretend that it simply couldn’t be. It’s crazy to think I have a gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy.
I don’t have Celiac’s Disease. I don’t have an Auto Immune Disorder. I’m healthy.
So I shouldn’t have gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy. It just couldn’t be.
And yet it is.
When the lump showed up in my breast, we took biopsies and ran several tests. After they came back negative, my doctor started talking about the possibility of diet playing a part in all of it. I honestly thought he was crazy.
My diet? My diet was amazing. I ate every 3 hours. I ate all natural, home cooked, well prepared meals. Lean protein. Fresh greens. Complex carbohydrates. Come on. Diet? My doctor is talking to me about diet?
I was a non-believer, but I complied anyway as an experiment. I took out all lactose and all gluten from my diet. The lump in my breast slowly became smaller and smaller. The lymph node started to appear normal again. We decided I didn’t need surgery after all. Great!
I became a skeptical believer. I believed that gluten or wheat may have caused that one particular lymph node to become enlarged. I would keep gluten and wheat out of my diet, but I didn’t really, truly, honestly believe I had a wheat allergy or a gluten intolerance.
I just didn’t have any other symptoms. I thought I had a sensitivity and I didn’t want the lump in my breast to flare up again, so I would comply for that reason alone.
Well, now I’m a full blown believer. My little gluten sensitivity became a full blown gluten intolerance, possibly a wheat allergy. Now I am going to read every label. Now I am going to have to be extremely careful when I eat at a restaurant. Now I am going to be vigilant. I have accepted it.
My body has a reaction to wheat or gluten. It doesn’t matter if it didn’t a few months ago. Now it does.
When it comes to gluten sensitivity or wheat allergies, I’m still obviously a rookie. You can come on my journey with me. I will share what I learn along the way, but I will also leave you in the hands of some wonderful experts. You can learn a lot about the differences between Celiac’s Disease, gluten intolerance, and wheat allergies through these links:
Gluten Questions Answered by Sarah Wilson
Being Celiac by Natalie Jill
Clues to Gluten Sensitivity in the Wall Street Journal
It is important to understand that wheat is not bad. Even though it’s on the rise, true Celiac Disease is still fairly rare. Whole wheat products and whole grains with gluten are healthy choices for a lot of people.
Just not me.
I’m just a flawed human being, just like anyone else. It may seem like I have super powers when it comes to discipline, exercise and nutrition, but I also have my own versions of kryptonite. Gluten (and wheat) is just one of many.
My skin is not usually red, mottled, or bumpy. Those are hives. Very itchy hives.
A Spoonful of Sugar
And now let’s just talk just quickly about sugar. When I reached for the Cliff Bar and the Cliff Mojo Bar, I knew I was basically eating 2 candy bars. I wasn’t under any false impressions, but that’s because I’m a Nutritionist and it’s my job to know these things.
It is hard for the average consumer to know what is healthy and what isn’t. There are so many choices available to us, which choices are best?
I want you to only understand the facts. I don’t want to tell you that it’s wrong to eat a Cliff Bar, Lara Bar, protein bar, granola bar or any other nutrition bar. I simply want you to understand what it is that you are actually eating.
The fact is there is more sugar in “health” bars like a Cliff Bar than there is in several typical candy bars. Luna Bars too. Lara Bars. Promax Bars. They may be wrapped in a different package. They may say, “All Natural Ingredients,” or “Energy Bar,” or “Sustained Energy,” or “Long Lasting Power,” or “Protein Power,” or “Low Glycemic,” or even “Organic.”
I want you to look beyond the marketing. I want you to look beyond the gimmicks.
I want you to look only at the grams of sugar. I want you to understand that sugar is still sugar, even when it comes from a “healthy” source, even when it comes in a “healthy” package.
The bright pink packaging of Nerds candy signifies to our brains that it’s more fun and probably has more sugar than the natural brown color and look of the Cliff Bar packaging.
Look beyond the packaging. The truth lies in the grams of sugar. The Nerds have 14 grams. The Cliff Bar has 23 grams.
The sugar in a “health” bar is not healthier than the sugar in Nerds.
Beyond that, the sugar in fruit is not healthier than the sugar in candy.
Fructose is different than glucose, but it is not healthier. The body breaks it down differently, but it is not better. I want you to understand it. I want you to accept it. I want you to make your future choices knowingly.
The pictures below are listed in order of lowest sugar content to highest sugar content, according to their nutritional labels.
Knowledge is Power
Arm yourself with knowledge. With knowledge comes the true power of choice. Not pressure. Choice. Don’t feel pressured to never eat a “nutrition” bar again. Just choose. Choose knowingly. Lift the fog of innocence and ignorance and go forward feeling confident that you understand.
I usually choose raw veggies and lean protein, with a few complex carbohydrates. But on some occasions, you may find me downing a box of Nerds… wait… are they gluten free?
xoxo ~ Cori
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