As of last Sunday, 8/26, I’m attempting to take a month off of gluten products. Would you like to know more? Probably not. I’m going to tell you anyways.
What’s a gluten?
Your face is a gluten. A gluten is a protein thing that you find in wheat, barley, and rye. (Nifty etymology fact: It comes from the Latin word for “glue,” due to the fact that it creates the elasticity of dough and the structure of baked bread and goods. It’s like glue… for your mouth! Who wouldn’t want that?)
Why go gluten-free?
Roughly 10% of the population has a condition called gluten sensitivity (or intolerance), in which their body has issues digesting gluten. This may lead to bloating, abdominal discomfort and pain, and other fun stuff like fatigue and headaches. There’s also a rarer, much more serious condition called celiac disease, which is a lifelong autoimmune disease in which gluten intake can actually damage the intestine and cause many other health issues. The only treatment for both of these? A gluten-free diet.
Is the gluten-free diet healthier than a regular diet?
Nope! Not hardly. You’re essentially replacing one class of staple carbohydrates with other types of carbs that just happen not to contain a certain protein. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.
What are the main gluten substitutes?
Pretty much any carbohydrate-esque thing that’s not wheat, barley, or rye. Some of the main ones include corn, rice, some oats, potatoes, and quinoa. As gluten sensitivity becomes more well-known, more stores are stocking fancy gluten-free alternatives to common products like bread, bagels, and rolls, meant to emulate the gluten-full equivalent in texture and taste. However, these are wicked expensive and not actually all that nutritious.
Why are you, Hermitina, trying this out?
I’ve had the lifelong pleasure of living with a stomach that is a world-class complainer, usually for completely baffling and invisible reasons. It’s not uncommon for people who were initially diagnosed with Whiny Stomach Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other conditions to try cutting out gluten and discover their body becomes much happier without it. Also, there is currently no clear, definitive medical test for gluten intolerance, so the best way to diagnose it is to rule out other things (celiac, wheat allergy) and then see if your belly improves when you cut out gluten.
On a less systematic note, I’m also a little curious just to try it — gluten is in so many things that it’s a really interesting thought exercise consciously to avoid it. It’s in bread and pasta, of course, but it can show up in everything from ice cream to the sticky gum bits on envelopes. (My family: there’s even gluten in Good & Plenty licorice candy! Alas.)
Any questions, comments, or critiques?