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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What does it mean to be gluten free?

My shortest blog post ever:
Being gluten free means that you do not consume any gluten.
Any questions? Good!

Okay, now for my rambling:

It's been a long time now since I've met someone new who has Celiac Disease. I meet people all the time who are gluten free, though. Six years ago when I started this journey, I didn't know anybody who was gluten free, which is why I started the first GFFW on Myspace a year later when I was truly comfortable with the whole thing; I wanted to support others like myself and build a strong local GF community.

Wow, Gluten Free Fort Wayne has been online for five years now!

So here we are, six years later, and while I don't know too many Celiacs, everyone I know has dabbled in GF or knows somebody who has. The goal of increasing awareness has definitely worked, and to be honest, I kind of want to take back some of my GF enthusiasm.

It seems so far away, but there was a time when I felt like everyone should go GF- everyone who complained of this symptom or that ailment... in my mind, I could blame it all on gluten. I almost wish I hadn't been so vocal, because people were listening.

Don't get me wrong- I love having more food options (my taste buds do; my waistline and wallet don't), but six years later, I don't have to explain GF to very many people. They know all about it now- or at least they think they do. I trust others' cooking less today than I did then because they're too confident about how to do it right.

It's okay; ask me questions about ingredients and safe food-handling procedures. It's worth it in the end if I can have a safe meal!

I know a lot of people on my Facebook page are GF without an official diagnosis- I promise you, I'm not trying to alienate or insult anyone. I'm just frustrated. I have an autoimmune disease that requires a very strict, very specific treatment, and I don't feel like I'm being taken as seriously as I once was. I'm frustrated by people who think it's okay to eat gluten sometimes- not too much, or just on special occasions.

What's the point of being gluten free if you're not free of gluten? If you have experienced health benefits- whether diagnosed by a medical professional or not- why would you willingly choose to do that to yourself?

I was just reading yet another article online today about the connections between Celiac and Lymphoma. It talked about the increased risk coming from "ongoing intestinal damage". What causes that damage? Gluten! Ongoing damage tells me that even though you don't feel too bad from that one little cheat, you've just moved yourself up another notch on the lymphoma risk. Is it worth it for that cake? That cookie? That pizza? That whatever-your-gluten-craving-is?

OH, but you're only gluten intolerant or have a gluten sensitivity or don't have to do it, but it helps you feel better...

If you've never been tested for Celiac Disease, you don't know for sure whether you might have it.
If you've been tested and it was negative, that doesn't mean that it didn't develop later or that they didn't miss it for any number of reasons.

You've chosen to adopt the treatment for Celiac Disease, so can you say with 100% certainty that you might not be at risk for all the same things as a Celiac?  No.

If you're going to be gluten free, be gluten free. Do it for your own health- just in case you're just an undiagnosed Celiac who is aware enough to realize that gluten doesn't like you. Do it for me too. Even if you've never met me, you've read this much of my ramblings, so you can at least pretend like we have some sort of connection. I need you to be 100% gluten free if you're going to be gluten free at all so that we don't send mixed messages to people. This is serious business.

If you're not sure you can make that commitment, PLEASE get tested for Celiac Disease WHILE consuming gluten so you can get a definitive diagnosis. If you have it, I would hope it might be more motivating to you.

So what does it mean to be gluten free?
It means no gluten. None. Never. Nada.
Got it?


  1. I agree with your statement that being gluten free means..NEVER! I have been GF for 4 years now but I have not officially been dx for Celiac. I have however been dx with a wheat allergy. Since I have been GF I no longer have stomach issues, migraines and/or daily headaches, my hair grows as my psoriasis cleared up,and my Dermatitis Herpetiformis on my thighs is gone. Where I work there is the occasional carry-in and I still get the "why don't you just cheat today" statement. I, like you, believe that this is NOT a diet but a way of life from now until I die!

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