A few twitter accounts that I follow have been on a campaign to spread the word that having a wheat allergy or having celiac's is not a fad diet and is not a choice for those of us who suffer. I am with them 100% on this point. In the past year since my diagnosis I have encountered people who say, "It can't be that bad," or "It's all in your head." I suffered for years with migraines, constant sickness, body aches, brain fog, and overwhelming tiredness that made me feel as if there was something really wrong with me and that I must be crazy. Last November I accidentally got exposed to wheat and was sick with a sinus infection and flu like symptoms for days. So is wheat exposure a big deal to me? The answer is yes. It is not a choice I make, it's a gift that the universe gave me. I say gift because since my diagnosis I have finally gotten a handle on my health to the point where I am no longer on any nutritional supplements to correct my body's imbalances nor any prescription meds.
I see everything labeled Gluten-Free these days. In my local grocery store there is a whole aisle dedicated to it. While this is wonderful in some ways, in others its just another way for big companies to market their overly processed junk that's loaded up with sugar and make people feel they are making a "healthy" choice. It's gluten-free so it must be healthy right? In my opinion gluten free living is not something one should embark on to lose weight or feel they are being "healthy" by keeping up with the latest fad. Gluten-free living is the only medical way to treat celiac and wheat allergy symptoms and medical issues that include inflammation in the gut, autoimmune diseases, and digestive problems that are caused by the body's inability to process gluten. By making light of being gluten free and calling it a fad diet, it is hurting those who are actually suffering because they are not taken seriously in the media or by society.
A few weeks back I had a few hours to kill before a work event and decided to treat myself to dinner. There was a particular burger joint on the upper east side (that shall remain nameless) I had been wanting to try; friends had informed me they had gluten free and wheat free options so I was excited to see what all the buzz was about. I went online, looked at their menu to see my options and was glad to see there were a lot of gluten free choices. Only a few moments later my heart sank; on the bottom of the web page they had a disclaimer that stated while they served "gluten-free" food, they did not claim to make any effort to avoid cross contamination, or make any effort to have a designated gluten free cooking area. In fact they stated that all their food was cooked in one place and to eat at your own risk. REALLY? You decide to offer a gluten free menu then undo all that by saying EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK? This is how I know they are only offering gluten free menu options to jump on the "fad diet" of eating gluten free. Needless to say I went to my usual place where I know my food is prepared safely. I was not only saddened but really disappointed. It makes me upset that someone not as informed may have eaten there and gotten sick because they didn't see the website disclaimer, only that they had a gluten free menu.
I feel so strongly that the only way to get a handle on this allergy is to eat whole, organic, real food. Does it take a little more time and effort? Yes. But in the long run I know exactly what is in my food and I can feel good about what I'm feeding my body. I'm not living on boxed gluten free food, I'm living on the best stuff nature can supply. My advice if you are looking to get healthy, start shopping in the produce section, your local farmer's market, and experiment in the kitchen. Educate yourself about what's in the products you usually buy and what you are eating. For me this applies not just to gluten free living, but healthy living in general. You want to know what the magic pill to health is? Nature's wholesome goodness. It's time for all of us to get back to nature and take advantage of all the beautiful healing powers it has.