Many people are initially sceptical about going gluten-free and a friend of mine was exactly the same.
A year ago, she wouldn’t have entertained the idea at all but then, in her own words “I got fed up. I was fed up of feeling bloated after every single meal and having to make a hot water bottle every night to soothe my stomach aches. I was fed up of going to the toilet and not being sure whether I would have diarrhoea or constipation. And then I started listening to my body.”
It isn’t natural for your stomach to bloat after eating certain foods or to experience IBS-type symptoms. In the same way that you would not ignore a cut on your leg if it were bleeding, you shouldn’t ignore the obvious signs that something is amiss with your digestive system.
Gluten-free diets: Where did it all begin?
The benefits of cutting out gluten for those who are clearly intolerant speak for themselves. Gluten intolerance and allergy have become more and more prevalent in recent years, with many attributing this increase towards modern production methods.
Gluten is also a relatively new part of the human diet and so there’s no wonder we have trouble digesting it!
Wheat is now higher in gluten than ever before, due the way that it is grown and processed in order to create a consumer-friendly product (bread is easier to slice if it contains more gluten).
Global demand for food is also higher than ever before, and the pressure to produce food at a higher rate may also contribute to gluten intolerance, as the grain has not been given the time it needs to be fully prepared for consumption.
The production processes also mean that more and more products are at risk of gluten contamination, meaning that while they may not contain gluten as a natural ingredient, it may have traces, which can be just as harmful to our body.
Just like quitting smoking, the most effective way to go gluten-free is to do exactly that – make sure that there is not a trace of it in your diet. Your body will thank you for it.
So how do I know if I’m gluten intolerant?
The symptoms of gluten allergy are not pleasant. The most common include bloating, diarrhoea, flatulence, abdominal cramping and constipation, while many people also report suffering from anxiety, depression, mood swings, fatigue and ‘brain fog’.
For those suffering from a more extreme form of the allergy known as coeliac disease, it is common to experience migraines or dizziness. These symptoms exemplify how gluten intolerance has such a harsh impact on both our minds and our bodies.
But don’t worry! While the full effects of going gluten-free may not be seen right away, if you take gluten out of your diet you will give your gut the chance to heal and you will soon notice that all of those nasty symptoms become a thing of the past.
So just how common is gluten in our foods?
As the protein found in wheat, rye and barley, gluten is present in many of our most common foods, including cakes, bread, biscuits, crackers and cereals. But committing to the gluten-free diet is easier than you might think, as all of these popular foods have a range of gluten-free alternatives.
Unlike with dairy, where there are many alternative foods such as soya, going gluten-free generally means eating the same foods (pasta, bread etc.) but just those types that have been specially made without gluten.
The good news is that this diet is extremely healthy! There is absolutely no limit on the amount of meat, fish, fresh fruit and veg and potatoes that you can eat, although it is advisable to avoid too many fried foods.
Stick to steamed, grilled and boiled varieties, which are healthier and taste better anyway. You can also do some home baking with alternative flours – the different is hardly noticeable once you have the finished product.
Or you can just buy some yummy Pudology gluten-free desserts to share with your friends – with our choice of puds including Millionaires, Banoffee and Chocolate Orange – gluten-free has never tasted so good!
Are you gluten-free?
What challenges do you face and what needs to be done to make your life easier?
Please do comment below.