Gluten-Free Me


Living with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disorder (AI), (my thyroid is under attack by my immune system as it is suspected of being an invader), I understand about the frustrations AI disease symptoms can bring - pain, discomfort, fatigue, bloating, digestive distress, anxiety, etc. While I think it's greatly important to be followed by an MD, I also believe the buck doesn't stop there.

I've been under the care of a nutritionist, naturopathic physician, my MD, and have read multiple books and articles on the topic of living healthy with an AI condition. I'm well aware that anyone having any AI disease, should absolutely consider becoming gluten-free. (This idea is not restricted to those having Celiac Disease, yet another AI condition where the digestive tract in seen by the immune system as an invader.) Moreover, given the damage that many believe gluten may cause to anyone's intestinal tract over the years, (that could then lead to an AI disease and a host of other physical ailments), I'd like to propose that all of us, even those who do not currently have an AI disease consider going gluten-free. 

So, what do I do to be gluten-free in my life? 

I eat and prepare most of my meals at home and my food choices are just about always single ingredient and "clean" - pasture-raised, grass-fed land animals, wild fish, local or organic vegetables and fruit.

When I do buy packaged gluten-free items, I always check the ingredient list. Just because something is marketed as gluten-free, doesn't automatically make it a healthy food choice. Get in the habit of checking the ingredient list of anything you purchase. If there are multiple, unpronounceable  ingredients - more than 5 - put it back. 

I avoid any condiment or anything that contains "natural flavors or flavorings" as well as MSG. More often than not, gluten is lurking right around the corner when you see those listed. 

When I eat in a restaurant I always ask if they have a gluten-free menu. More often than not they don't but at least they know I want my meal without flour or bread crumbs. Don't assume that if you order fish or meat that your meal by default will be gluten-free. Ask about marinades used as well. I remember one time ordering a seemingly "clean" steak, and several hours later suffering extreme nausea and headache. Some of you may be thinking "food poisoning". Perhaps, but I know well my symptoms when I've been "glutenized".

I don't usually eat pasta out, but beware when restaurants offer gluten-free pasta. The alert here should be on where the pasta is prepared. If your gluten-free pasta is added to the same pot of water where regular pasta is cooked, your pasta will be "contaminated" and no longer gluten-free.

Lastly, I use gluten-free cosmetics and body products. There are many "clean" grooming products available nowadays. Check out your local health food store or go on-line. As you most likely know, many prescribed medications are topical and absorbed through the skin. In a similar fashion, we need to consider that body lotions, soaps, shampoos, make up, etc. containing gluten and other less than healthy ingredients have the same tendency to be absorbed by our bodies. I make sure to use gluten-free lip stick along with other gluten-free toiletries.

in my mind and life, the topic of being gluten-free is related to "clean" living. The idea sounds daunting to many. My experience though is that with patience and curiosity, becoming gluten-free is really not such a big deal. In fact, it's actually kind of easy.

Have  question/comments? Let us know about your views and experiences on this gluten-free topic right here.