by Emily Davies
Let me first get things straight, gluten is not wheat.
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and other related grains. When someone is diagnosed with celiac disease they are unable to digest the gluten protein. They do not have the enzymes to break down gluten, which can cause many uncomfortable problems along the digestive tract. If you are someone who has been diagnosed with celiac disease, you should definitely avoid gluten. However, if you find that after you eat foods which contain gluten (i.e. white flour, soy sauce, grains from wheat) you feel tired, bloated or gassy, you may be intolerant to gluten. Thus, I highly recommend getting a gluten test done at your MD (medical doctor) or ND (naturopathic doctor). Furthermore, if you feel fine after eating gluten then by no means do you have to avoid it. As I mentioned earlier, gluten is a protein, which is good for us, assuming we are able to digest it.
Now that the facts are straight, I’ll tell you about my relationship with gluten. I do not have celiac disease. I can eat soy sauce, marinades, and other products containing wheat with no problems. Although I don’t do well with overly processed foods such as cakes, cookies and white pasta. Yes, these foods do contain gluten, but the reasoning behind my upsets is the overly processed factors. Most of the time cookies, cakes and all those addicting sweets contain pretty much zero nutrients. Thus, our bodies have to work extremely hard to break them down without receiving any “natural help” from the enzymes and nutrients in those foods. To sum this up, yes I eat gluten, although 90% of the time, I only eat nutrient-dense foods (i.e. whole wheat pasta, spelt bread).
On another note, I think it’s fun to cook and bake with gluten-free alternatives because it allows me to think outside the box for example making breads out of nut flours or pancakes out of bananas, flax seeds and chickpea flour. I find there is more creativity when you adapt a partially gluten-free diet. Also, you’ll avoid that awkward moment when you bake cookies for your friends and one of them is gluten intolerant; “No cookies for you,” is a sad phrase.
I suggest that you try to connect with your body a bit more before you jump right onto the gluten-free bandwagon. Reflect upon how you feel after you eat nutrient-dense foods with gluten versus overly processed foods with gluten. It’s pretty simple, we want to feel good after we eat, not down and sluggish. So do what feels best for you.