Reader’s request: Gluten freedom

Hiiii 😀 How are ya? Hope you’re having a great morning so far <3 Thanks for the words of assurance on my work confessional 🙂 Guess I’m gong to have to fake it until I feel it and depend on everyone else to learn as much as I can 🙂

For the last few months, I received so many questions about being gluten-free. I’m not 100% gluten-free, but stay away from it for the most part because it makes me feel horrible if I have it more than one day in a row.

cake (2)

(Gluten-free chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting)

What the heck is gluten anyway?

From Wiki:

Gluten is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.

As cases of known gluten sensitivity increase, many foods in the western world are now labeled to clarify whether they contain gluten.

Gluten is the composite of a prolamin and a glutelin, which exist, conjoined with starch, in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. Gliadin, a water-soluble, and glutenin, a water-insoluble, (the prolamin and glutelin from wheat) compose about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed. Being insoluble in water, they can be purified by washing away the associated starch. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.

The seeds of most flowering plants have endosperms with stored protein to nourish embryonic plants during germination. True gluten, with gliadin and glutenin, is limited to certain members of the grass family. The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from wheat gluten by lacking gliadin.

So what are the reasons to go gluten-free?

1. If you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac occurs when there is damage to the lining of the small intestine, often a reaction of eating gluten and this prevents the body from absorbing the nutrients of many foods. The tests for Celiac is fairly invasive (they put you to sleep and remove a small part of your intestine), and many people with the disease go undiagnosed. If you suspect that you may have Celiac, talk to your doctor.

Symptoms of Celiac include digestive problems as well as signals that the body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, such as hair loss, bruising easily, growth delay in children, depression and fatigue.

While the disease itself cannot be cured, following a gluten-free diet will allow the lining of the small intestine to heal itself over time.

2. If you find that eating gluten is causing digestive issues and your doctor suggests avoiding it. If you suspect to have a gluten allergy, talk to your doctor. They might put you on a gluten elimination diet to see if this eases your symptoms and go from there.


If I’m not having problems from eating gluten, are there any health benefits for me to stop eating gluten?

Not at all. The problem with many gluten-free foods is that they’re stripped of many of the nutrients whole grains provide in the processing of the products. I’ll be the first one to tell you that a lot of gluten-free food is trash. You really have to read the ingredients and make sure you’re not ingesting preservatives, artificial ingredients and boatloads of sugar from the gluten-free products. If you have no probs with gluten and can eat 100% whole-grain products, feast away! They’re good for you 🙂

Why is all of this just starting to become an issue? I’d never heard anything about gluten-free and now it’s everywhere.

The sad things is that wheat is a subsidized crop so like soy and corn, it’s being pumped into as many processed foods as possible. By consuming ridiculously high amounts of these foods, our bodies can develop an intolerance to them, or symptoms of Celiac disease can become more prevalent. Another reason to enjoy whole foods instead of processed foods as much as possible! Also, more cases of gluten intolerance and Celiac disease and being diagnosed.

A sad reality is that many people are going gluten-free as a fad, or for “weight loss.” Like I said before, a lot of gluten-free food is not healthier than it’s gluten-y competitors and if you can eat whole grain, or whole wheat, go for it! There’s no reason to skip out on gluten if it’s not bothering you and if you haven’t chatted with your doc about it.

I hope this helped those of you who had questions! <3

Enjoy your day and I’ll see ya this afternoon.



*New family post is up 😀

Something to do: Summer Shape Up workout! Loved your feedback so far- keep rocking it out <3

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  1. kate on June 9, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I’m pretty sure that you can get a simple blood test to find out if you have Celiac’s (just so as to not scare people away from talking to their doctor’s about it).

    • Fitnessista on June 9, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      they usually follow up with an intestine sample, but a commenter let me know it’s not so bad. i just think if anyone thinks they may have a prob, to talk to their dr for sure

      • Ashley on June 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

        yeah I’ve had it done. If you are having a lot of GI problems a doctor might recommend a colonoscopy and when theyre in there the doctor takes a small piece of tissue. You’re asleep and you don’t feel it. You can get a blood test done too. I’ve had that as well. Doctors will usually do both if you are having a lot of issues.

  2. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on June 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you for the very interesting info on gluten! I know a lot of people who are intolerant or have celiac, and I’d wondered if going gluten-free was actually healthier! But after reading this, I’ll just stick to my whole grains! Oh, also it finally makes sense why gluten-free food is so good sometimes… all that added sugar and stuff! Who knew?!

  3. Andrea on June 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Great post! I have had many conversations at work (we’re all foodies) and in my personal life about this exact same thing. I love my whole grains! But sometimes at work I feel like I’m being judged because I’m not 100% gluten-free. I’ve done an elimination diet and I had no ill effects when I re-introduced gluten. I also totally appreciate that some people are sensitive to gluten – it’s definitely a real problem. But if you’re okay with it, then don’t cut out whole grains because you think you’ll lose a few pounds (the reasoning many of my girlfriends who are gluten-free use). There are much better, more nutritious ways to lose weight. 🙂


  4. Katie on June 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    If you think you have or know someone who is gluten intolerant I can’t recommend the book The Gluten Effect enough. It is pretty science-y (which I love!) but it explains exactly what is going on in your intestines when you eat gluten. The reaction is different for those with celiac versus those with intolerance versus those without either, but there are benefits to going gluten free even if you aren’t intolerant. Gluten is very very hard to digest in general, and not everyone has a stomach of steel! 😉 Not only that, but there are a myriad of diseases and chronic illnesses that may be explained by an undetected or unsuspected intolerance.

    The book is written for people like you and I and I really recommend it! I reviewed it on my blog also.

  5. Cassie @ Naturally Cassie on June 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Great post!!!
    i’m good with gluten, but have a similar problem with soy.
    Thanks for the info!

  6. Kate on June 9, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Another important thing to note is that Celiac Sprue is actually an autoimmune condition, which means that eating gluten will trigger an immune reaction in the small intestines. It is also frequently associated with other autoimmune conditions like Lupus, Reynaud’s phenomenon, and so on, so many people with Celiac have confounding symptoms and diseases to manage. As someone diagnosed with Celiac through a tissue sample 6 years ago now, I think it is important for other people to understand that!

    Also, a note on the blood test. Doctors should follow up on any positive blood test by collecting a sample of the small intestine. The blood test just confirms if there is a heightened presence of certain antibodies that indicate celiac, so the second test is important for a final diagnosis. The sample is quite small though, it is not like they are actual removing a piece of your intestine. It’s just a tissue sample! Not that scary!

    Thanks for the post lady!

  7. Moni'sMeals on June 9, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    this post was handy. I like how you explained it. There is a lot of crap going around about gluten-free and I like how you set it straight. 🙂

  8. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey on June 9, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    “I’ll be the first one to tell you that a lot of gluten-free food is trash.” – AMEN! Which is why I make a lot of my stuff at home. There is hardly any nutritional value to GF foods on the market!

  9. Joanna on June 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Gina !
    Just wondering what is in the green juice ??
    Looks so refreshing !

    • Fitnessista on June 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      apple, cucumber, romaine, lemon 🙂

  10. Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) on June 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I’m pretty sure I’d fail at the gluten free lifestyle.. any good recipes for gluten free pancakes? I’m grateful I don’t ahve to worry about that.. in other news, though, CONGRATS!!!!!!! I’m just catching up on blogs and I’m so freakin happy for you!!! AND so happy the Pilot gets to experience all of this joy with you in Tuscon.. As an AF girlfriend, I totally understand the challenges of distance and the treasured happiness that accompanies an opportunity to be together and share life for longer than a couple weeks at a time.

    • Fitnessista on June 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

      for gf pancakes, i cheat and use the boxed mix 🙂

  11. Gena on June 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Great post! I admit that I have a very grumpy reaction to most gluten avoidance, because I think that a) people are far too quick to self-diagnose, and b) people assume that, if you *don’t* have a gluten allergy, eating GF is nevertheless a magical path to weight loss and perfect digestion. It isn’t, and a lot of foods that actually help people digest better (whole grains, for instance) have gluten in them.

    That said, it’s an allergy epidemic we can’t ignore, and you shed light on its advantages beautifully. Miss you friend, and email coming soon.


  12. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) on June 10, 2011 at 8:53 am

    It’s also important to note that celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder (a lot of people have gluten intolerance–which is not the same thing), so people who DO have it should really try to completely stay off of gluten completely, because it basically revs up your immune system and will be ‘attacked’ by your body if otherwise. Essentially the same thing, as we eating peanuts if you have a peanut allergy, your body will go into attack mode, which is not for the most part. Just wanted to chime in!

  13. Jessica on June 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for the post, Gina! I actually eliminated gluten from my diet after having GI problem for years! It was said that I had IBS and my dr kinda blew me off. I haven’t been test for Celiac because I just cannot go back to eating gluten again in order to be tested. So I agree with you in that if anyone suspects they have an allergy or intolerance talk to your dr so that you can get tested before you eliminate! Thank again! Great post and congratulations on the baby 🙂

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