Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What it means to be gluten free

What is a gluten free diet? First of all, I don't like to call it a diet. That makes it sound like some sort of fad, like the Atkin's diet. It's a lifestyle change. Gluten is a protein composite in foods that are processed from wheat, barley or rye. However, it is not limited to those, it is anything that is processed around wheat, barley or rye. You would be surprised how many things contain gluten and casein {dairy, which we also removed from Logan's diet}.

Why does someone choose to be gluten free? Several reasons, the first two can be very serious. Celiac disease, an auto-immune disease in which the lining of the intestines are damaged from gluten and a gluten allergy {not to be confused with a wheat allergy}. Both of these require an invasive test to determine as simple blood tests are not reliable. There is also such a thing as gluten intolerance where someone may have similar symptoms as those with celiac disease. Removing gluten and casein have been thought to help behavior problems in children with ADHD and autism...which would be my reason, initially.

I had never even heard of a gluten free/casein free diet {GF/CF, also referred to as the autism diet} before this. I researched alternative treatments for behavior issues, I talked to other parents and my son's therapist. All recommended a GF/CF diet. I knew that it would be a difficult transition but if it helped, so what. I was willing to try anything. I looked up everything in my pantry and refrigerator. EVERYTHING! If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right. I learned that it wasn't just food, but shampoo, soap, band aids, stickers, Play-Doh, crayons, vitamins, medicine, etc. {I hate Play-Doh anyway}. I was going to make sure that anything and everything that Logan put into his mouth was GF/CF.

This lifestyle change affected all of us because all of my meals had to be GF/CF however, we are not totally GF like Logan. I like to say that we are gluten reduced. One thing I learned quickly is that it can be expensive. My grocery bill went UP. We had a Trader Joe's close by and my grocery store had a gluten free section but I also looked up regular products that are gluten free. I was really surprised at how many things are GF out there. When in doubt, I look it up. I don't trust the labels 100%. As I said, if it's processed in a plant where wheat, barley and rye are also being processed, it's contaminated and therefore NOT GF. Since moving, we don't have a Trader Joe's close by, but Kroger has an organic section and Meijer also carries GF items. It was trial and error at first for Logan to decide what he did and didn't like but I think we finally have it figured out.

What foods are GF/CF? Rice flour is a great substitute for regular flour. I also have found a GF butter substitute and I use almond milk, both are really good! I have even found GF/CF ice cream sandwiches, which Logan loves. There are GF breads, but in all honesty, they aren't that good. Logan prefers no bread. He can eat rice, fruits, vegetables and meat, lots of meat. He loves meat! {Some meats may not be GF though.}

What about eating out? Nope, pretty much don't do it. Some places say they have a gluten free menu, but they cannot control cross contamination. Not to mention chances are the staff are not educated, I had a bad experience at Chili's. The only place I really go is Chipotle. Everything, aside from the tortilla shells, is GF. Logan can't have the sour cream or cheese either but I buy a soy cheese that he loves and we put that on his burrito bowl. We love Chipotle! NO fast food is safe. French fries are fried in oil, the same oil that is used to fry chicken nuggets (breading) and is therefore contaminated. Sure they can take the bun off the the burger but do you know if the bun was originally on the burger? You see where I'm going with this. We don't eat out.

Logan has been GF/CF for a little over three months now. He is so cute. He knows what he can and can't have and always asks when in doubt "Is that gluten free?" I had to educate him as well and his teacher and anyone that was going to be around him. I can honestly say it has helped. He isn't having the terrible temper tantrums that he was having but it has not only helped him, it has helped me as well. I have suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for years {not something I enjoy sharing}. I had my first colonoscopy at 27ish {ugh}. I've been on several different medications. Since being gluten reduced, my symptoms have almost resolved themselves. I talked to my new family physician about this and he is totally on board. He said this is the best thing for someone with digestive issues and he also believes that if can help behavior problems.

Here are a few websites that I found helpful:


  1. Very interesting information. Keep up the amazing work. I don't think it would be easy to change your diet let alone help a child to change his.

  2. This is amazing information. I'm working on getting us at least reduced. I'm talking to Louis a little bit more about it and I think it will help a couple of his conditions.

    I'm floored by the cost of some of these gluten free products.


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