Did you know there were some popular celiac disease myths that might be confusing people? As someone who’s been raising gluten-free kids for several years, I can tell you that it’s not easy! Now my children do not have celiac disease, but they do have food sensitivities. We use the autism diet and I can absolutely tell when they have been cross-contaminated! I have 3 friends in a very small church group that I’m in all who all suffer gluten intolerances. Said one, “I just thought that was the price to pay for eating pasta! I thought it was normal.”
Never fear though, I’m here to help you sort through those myths! I can tell you that going gluten-free can be easier than you think.
Gastrointestinal reactions to pasta and bread are not normal. If you have Celiac disease, here are 8 little-known facts about this disease.
8 Celiac Disease Myths
1. Celiac disease is not considered a disability.
In 2009, the Americans with Disabilities Act expanded to cover issues such as eating and major bodily functions. I have seen how debilitating unintentionally digested gluten can be. Now, does that mean every workplace, school and public arena must offer gluten-free food? I wish it did, but sadly, that’s not what the law covers. If you are willing to fight, at least the ADA is supportive. It DOES protect you, however, from being fired due to a disability. About.com covers this issue in depth: “Does the Americans with Disabilities Act cover people with Celiac Disease?”
2. The only way to detect Celiac disease and gluten intolerances is with a biopsy.
For an official diagnosis and disability coverage, you need a blood test. Next you’ll have to convince your doctor for the biopsy, and then proceed with the costs and difficulty associated with that. If you don’t, a better route is to drop all gluten with a true elimination diet and see if:
- you feel better
- your stools change
- you have more gastrointestinal comfort
Be careful though – it’s tricky to get to 100% gluten-free, especially if you eat out or eat packaged foods! Then you can go to your doctor and convince him of the benefit of a test, based on your physical results.
3. There is no cure for Celiac disease.
This is one of the Celiac disease myths that is more beneficial to the pharma industry than any patient. I was shocked to discover they are developing drugs and vaccines for Celiac disease. There is a cure: stop eating food that contains gluten! It’s NOT the easy, fast, convenient symptom relief that we Americans consider a “cure,” but it’s absolutely doable. For me, it’s common sense. If your body rejects gluten, don’t give it any instead of looking for a fast fix so you can eat anything.
4. Cross-contamination is not a big deal.
That depends. In 2009, the FDA regulation for the gluten-free designation was 20ppm. Some people are fine with that but not all. My kids can have negative behaviors at levels much lower than that.
We don’t give them ANY gluten, so we know this comes about with a new product or restaurant that is lax about cross-contamination. Udi’s makes and bakes all their baked good in a 100% dedicated gluten-free facility. As of 5/23/13, Udi’s informed me that their products test at 10ppm.* My girls seem to have zero reactions with Udi’s so I suspect that is a safe limit for them.
*NOTE: This information was told to me by a representative for Udi’s in May 2013. It is possible these levels have changed since I now see Udi’s supports a “20ppm” level for gluten-free labeling. Please be aware of this if your sensitivity is high, or contact them yourself.
5. If you go gluten-free, you won’t get enough fiber, grains, and nutrients.
I just read that it’s dangerous to go gluten-free. This is one of those celiac disease myths that is hogwash, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, with proper choices, you don’t even need to eat any grains to get the right amount of fiber in your diet. You can get plenty of fiber gluten-free ancient grains or fibrous vegetables. Most gluten products Americans eat have more in common with sugar-laden, butter-dripped cake than healthy fiber. Dropping gluten allows you to focus on healthy sources of fiber.
6. Being 100% gluten-free is impossible.
Being gluten-free can be challenging, true, but it’s not impossible. You need to drop back going to restaurants, which frequently suffer cross-contamination, and cook more. Sandwiches can be tricky, but of course, you can always buy Udi’s Sandwich Bread. Try switching your entire family to gluten-free, or buy two toasters and store your gluten products away from the kitchen. It does mean you have to pick up and read labels all the time. Udi’s products tell you right on the label what allergens they don’t contain. All are gluten-free, but many are also dairy-free and soy-free.
7. It’s not natural to be gluten-free.
Actually, our bodies DO NOT produce the enzyme to break down the gluten. It’s probably more natural not to be eating gluten in the first place, despite how long farming has been around.
I believe the increase in gluten-sensitivity disorders is related to modern farming, with GMO foods and toxic pesticides Udi’s products are verified non-GMO and many are Project Non-GMO Certified. As you can see from the top photo, they’ve already received it on their granola bars and clusters.
8. Gluten-free food tastes terrible.
No way! It takes some doing, but gluten-free cooking is a skill like any other, and you can make anything from gluten-free meatballs to muffins. That’s why we buy Udi’s gluten-free products when we are in the mood for a snack. I’ve loved everything I’ve tried by them. My kids love the bread, bagels, cookies, granola, and muffins-quite a long list.
Which Celiac Disease Myths Do You Believe?
These Celiac disease myths can make it tough to figure out the truth. And some of them you might prefer to believe. A treatment might sound easier than changing to a gluten-free diet. Unfortunately, all medicines and vaccines have risks but eating a healthy diet doesn’t. I hope this article has cleared up your questions and given you some answers.
The Real Way to Conquer Celiac Disease
The fact is that none of these 8 Celiac disease myths can cover the real truth. The power to heal it is in your hands. What you need to do is stop eating gluten and safeguard yourself from cross-contamination as well. You might want to sample different levels to discover just how little you should eat. Here’s what I recommend you do:
- Create a plan to eliminate foods with gluten from your diet.
Don’t expect to take care of this overnight. Depending on how often you eat food with gluten, you might need to reduce them little by little. For example, if you always eat cereal, consider a healthier alternative such as certified gluten-free oatmeal or pastured eggs. (It’s better to have protein with every meal anyway!)
- If you eat out, learn which restaurants are best.
Here are 13 restaurants we’ve trusted (mostly chains) to take our kids when traveling or eating out. If you travel, do your due diligence. Call ahead of time particularly on a vacation where food options are limited, like a cruise.
- Strategize your challenges ahead of time.
Going gluten-free has its share of challenges, like foods that you don’t think should contain gluten but do, like some dips or salad dressings. Research all your foods.
- Don’t just replace favorite carbs with gluten-free versions.
Now that you know you need a special diet, why not make a real move to healthier foods? Don’t replace that loaf of wheat bread with gluten-free bread. Find a way to eat much less bread. For example, you can make lettuce wraps instead of traditional sandwiches or wraps.
- Master your gut health.
The real problems behind Celiac disease all begin in the gut. Good gut health is certainly a step in making sure you’re feeling healthy, both physically and emotionally. Don’t waste this opportunity, but learn to balance your gut flora. A good probiotic, a pre-biotic and perhaps a gluten-reducing enzyme could be good to help things along.
- Go organic.
The better choices you can make, the better! In fact, gluten sensitivity may be related to the way we farm, as I mentioned. I do not recommend cheating if you have Celiac disease at all. If you do make that choice, stick to USDA certified organic wheat products.
- Consider eliminating casein and corn.
These culprits are common issues among people with Celiac disease. Casein is the protein in cow milk. Casein and gluten sensitivities may have the same root issue. Corn is a controversial topic in Celiac circles. This article makes a compelling argument against eating corn if you suffer from Celiac disease but there isn’t a lot of research along these lines so far. You can always try taking out these products and see how you feel.
As you can see, there are a lot of Celiac disease myths that complicate things. Today, we’re lucky that there are so many gluten-free options available to us. Udi’s long history makes it a trustworthy brand for people and families that are new to eating gluten-free. Thanks, Udi’s, for making living with Celiac disease and food sensitivities a breeze.
Resources For Celiac Sufferers
There are a host of resources out there! Sure, a few have conflicting answers to myths about Celiac disease, but many have excellent information. If you find conflict, that’s the time to do your research to find the answer that’s best for your health.
Websites For Celiac Disease
- Cure Celiac Disease (University of Chicago Research)
- Celiac Disease Foundation
- Celiac Disease by Dr. Weil
- Gluten-Free Society: You’ll want to search “Celiac” at this site as it has a ton of information.
- Gluten-Free on a Shoestring
- Gluten-Free Society
- The Gluten-Free Chef
- Gluten-Free Girl
If you know someone who is new to eating clean, then you’ll want to check out my nontoxic kitchen gift guide! Or, check out some of my favorite cookbooks and other beginner guides to going gluten-free below!