Many of our readers have come to us requesting more gluten-free recipes (almost all our posted recipes are gluten-free even though they may not say it). Gluten-free diets are booming in popularity right now, with gluten being a commonly blamed culprit for illnesses and gluten-free foods popping up in grocery stores and restaurants everywhere. So we thought we'd summarize this recent trend and point out some helpful resources.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains (oat is gluten-free although it can sometimes be contaminated, so if you are avoiding gluten you probably want to see the words "gluten-free" on the oat products you purchase). Some people have trouble digesting gluten, which may be the result of a disease, allergy, or intolerance. (source: http://whatisgluten.net/)
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition which causes damage to the small intestine and is thought to occur in less than 1% of the U.S. population; however, it may be difficult to diagnose. People with celiac disease must maintain a completely gluten-free diet to stay healthy. (source: http://www.celiac.org/)
A gluten allergy also affects less than 1% of the population; symptoms include fatigue, iron-deficiency, skin problems, and difficulty with digestion. Experts say it may be okay to have small amounts of gluten as long as the allergy sufferer feels okay but to mostly avoid it. A wheat allergy has some of these same symptoms. Allergies can be diagnosed by a doctor or allergist. (sources: http://www.allergy-details.com/gluten-free-diet/gluten-allergy-symptoms/ and http://www.wheat-free.org/wheat-allergy.html)
***Perhaps you've been medically cleared from having celiac disease or an allergy but still feel you may have a gluten or wheat intolerance; or perhaps you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, a commonly diagnosed disorder when actual causes of physical symptoms go undiagnosed. You may be able to determine your intolerance by avoiding gluten for two weeks then returning to your regular diet, monitoring your symptoms and physical feelings the entire time, perhaps writing them down. Also, keep in mind that a gluten or wheat intolerance often goes hand in hand with a dairy or lactose intolerance, so you may want to try periods in which you eliminate gluten/wheat, then dairy, then both to see how you feel.
So is gluten-free really better? Our answer is no, unless you have a medical diagnosis that requires you avoid it or you have determined that you simply feel better without it. Going gluten-free without a medical diagnosis is completely okay if you find it works for you, and there are many more options available for you now than in years past.
Since we've only been blogging for a couple months, we don't have a huge collection of recipes built up for you yet. But stay tuned for more gluten-free recipes posted on Tasty Tuesdays and check out our list below of trusted resources for gluten-free recipes and ideas._____________
- http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Odea is author of Make It Fast, Cook It Slow and most the recipes are gluten-free due to an allergy in the family.
- http://pamelasproducts.com/ Our trusted site for gluten-free products like the baking mix posted in the photo above. She also has some good recipes we've tried.
- http://www.foodallergy.org/ Food allergy network site.