Amazing gluten free margarita pizza from Brooklyn Joe's taken on Instagram.

Let's talk about gluten. We hear all about it all the time, right? I recently had a lovely lady email me that had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She was switching to a gluten-free lifestyle and wanted some suggestions for making the switch as well as for transitioning her young child to eating the same way. For a while now I've been wanting to challenge myself to go to a gluten-free for at least a couple of weeks to see how I felt, so I thought... what better time? I have found that after eating gluten I feel tired and sluggish. I've been gluten-free for a week now and I feel great.

Also, I am not a nutritionist or doctor, so certainly ask your doctor if you have any questions/concerns.

Q. First things first. What is gluten?

A. 1. A substance present in cereal grains, esp. wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. 2. A protein substance that remains when starch is removed from cereal grains; gives cohesiveness to dough. 3. Gluten is part of the elastic, rubbery protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. It binds the dough in baking and prevents crumbling. Gluten can be found in breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, biscuits, crackers, battered foods, cereals, snack foods, pastas and pizza. (source 1/ 2/ 3)

Q. What are the side-effects from eating gluten?

A. Well, this really depends on your level of intolerance to gluten. For true celiac sufferers symptoms vary depending on the level of malabsorption (difficulty in absorbing nutrients from food).

They are broken down into two categories:

1. malabsorption:
You can break down nutrients into fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Celiac disease can reduce the absorption of all of these nutrients, but fat is the nutrient most often affected. The results are gastrointestinal problems.
  • Symptoms include: diarrhea, bloating, fat or oil droplets in the stool, and "foul-smelling" gas. Often times, these Celiac sufferers also suffer from a lactose intolerance causing similar symptoms like stomach cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, etc.

    2. malnutrition:
    If someone who is gluten intolerant consumes gluten for years and year, eventually the intestines will flatten. This causes vitamins and minerals to not be absorbed in the body.
  • The results of this are: anemia, infertility, osteoperosis, easy bruising, and muscle weakness just to name a few. (source)

    Q. Why should you avoid gluten if you don't have Celiac?

    A. This article, "Against the Grain," explains how changes in agriculture and the introduction of GMOs has made wheat, oats, and barley a potential threat to our health. Even just a decade ago the number of Celiac sufferers was dramatically lower than it is today. The important thing is to eat grains that have been treated properly. Sprouted grains like Ezekial bread are a healthy option. There are also several different brands of gluten free breads. Check out my friend Jen's blog to see substitutions and her favorite brands. If you don't suffer from celiac, you could still have an intolerance. Try cutting it out of your diet and then reintroduce it two weeks later. See how you feel!

    Q. What grains can you have on a gluten-free diet?

    A. Quinoa, rice, gluten-free powders (rice, tapioca) corn, flax, millet. See more here.

    Check out these awesome blogs for recipes and guidance:

  • Gluten Free Girl
  • Celiac Teen
  • Elana's Pantry
  • Wheat Belly Blog
  • Silvana's Kitchen
  • Blackbird Bakery
  • Paleomg
  • Whole9
  • Gluten Free RD

    I think a lot of times we determine our children's flexibility with food. As long as you introduce new foods all the time, there typically won't be a problem. Matilda loves Pamela's pancakes (she wouldn't know otherwise) and there are tons of great gluten-free cereals that are kid friendly. We eat lots of fruits and veggies, whole fat yogurt, lean proteins, and little to no grains so going gluten free really hasn't been a big adjustment for us. I've been using Rudi's bread, which I think is great for sandwiches and no complaints so far!
    Are you gluten intolerant? Any advice for moms that are making the switch?


    1. Love this! You know already, but I'm all about being GF. We've been doing it for about a year now, and I feel ten times better than I used to. Also, if I do splurge and eat wheat products, I feel bloated and heavy afterward. Huge sign.

      The Udis products are good too. We tried the frozen pizza crust last weekend and loved it! There are so many other options to wheat, and a lot of them are actually inexpensive!

      I'm currently reading the book "Wheat Belly" and enjoying it. There are multiple studies in big medical journals (New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association) that show how gluten intolerance is a serious medical issue, causing a significant increase in cancer, stroke, heart attack and heart disease! Scary!

    2. Great post! My 3 year old son is gluten free and we eat mostly gluten free ourselves. Grain type foods I feed him are corn tortilla quesadillas, mini pizzas made on corn tortillas, Trader Joe's rice mac n cheese, rice cakes/crackers with peanut butter, udi's pb & j, Gluten Freeda's oatmeal, breakfast quinoa (cooked in half apple cider half water, plus dried fruit and nuts) Gorilla Munch cereal and gluten free chex. We also do the Bob's Red Mill pizza dough mix and Pamela's flour goods (pancakes, cookies, etc) too.
      I had to cut gluten out of my diet when I was nursing with him and not only did I loose the rest of the baby weight, but I felt fantastic and had more energy. I'm sad to say the gluten did creep back into my diet though, although not as much as before he was around. I'm 7 months pregnant now with our second and plan on feeding her the same diet as her brother.
      Thanks for all the links!

    3. Great post Lesley!! Lots of good info and I learned a lot! Lauren is going to give it a try and see if it helps her to feel better. We'll let you know.

    4. Thank you for the shout out.

      I have actually found the shift really easy to make. We switched to corn cereal and bought lentil and blue corn chips for snacking. Had brown rice pasta tonight that was so delicious and pretty much I have restricted my sweet intake... which was the major problem. I took your suggestion from an earlier post and bought the book The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook. That satisfies pancake cravings, pizza dough for pizzas, sweets and even has a great bread recipe. I bought agave nectar, almond flour and grape seed oil in bulk from Amazon which was a huge savings. Two more books I bought were Make It Paleo (but there is no way I am cutting dairy) and Simply Sugar & Gluten Free. I will say a few things, I am not into buying overly processed "gluten free" junk. If I were not about to give birth I would be making crackers at home, but for now I think we can live with some blue chips for my homemade hummus. Second, there are great grains to discover and letting go of gluten items like white or whole wheat flour is really easy. We are going to continue to eat this way even after I give birth. I am not eliminating gluten completely, special occasions exists, but overall it is a lot tastier and fun... try those lentil crackers! They are divine!!!

      Thanks for this post :)

      P.S. My blood sugar has been all within the normal limits since the shift and unless I test at elevated levels when in labor, I will not carry the Scarlett Letters GD with me into Sam's birth.


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