Gluten Free: A Gateway Drug?

The magic pill. That's what the gluten free diet sounded like when my doctor first described it. Eat gluten free and celiac disease disappears. The fatigue. The stomach acid. The nausea. Poof

Ever since my diagnosis, though, I've noticed that most celiacs aren't just no-gluten. They're no-dairy, no-processed, no-soy, no-casein, no-anything-not-straight-from-the-dirt. And I've become one of them. And, when I look at my snack stack free of the 8 most common allergens, I can't help but think: Why? Why is gluten free suddenly not enough

Maybe gluten free isn't so magic after all?

True, a lot of the reasons are intestinal. I'm guilty of that. My villi may have started to bloom again, but they still wilt if milk floods their roots. And paleo? We're flirting. Because what person whose suffered from bloating, gas, nausea, acid and every intestinal ABC isn't attracted to a lifestyle that promises to conquer a tantrum-prone tummy

Yet, I can't help but think that the stomach isn't acting alone. The body and mind are partners in crime and this is no exception. It's so easy to get in a cycle of restriction and fear. So easy to say that because gluten is an intestinal bomb, soy and processed foods might have tickers of their own. And when you don't heal immediately - as my hospital visits and fatigue and frustration has shown is apt to happen - it's easy to blame the nutritionists' latest villain rather than accept that healing takes its own sweet time. In this way, I think gluten free really has transformed into the gateway drug of allergen avoidance.  

Sometimes, lines are easy to draw...

Fact is, I don't think every celiac needs to avoid more than gluten. But I'm definitely not denying that some do and should! 

Will I ever reunite with my dairy-filled frozen yogurt? Maybe. I hope so. I hope that one day my list of dietary restrictions will grow shorter rather than flowing onto the next page. For now, though, I'm pretty happy. I'm off gluten, off dairy, try to eat as non-processed as possible and am hoping to undergo more allergy testing this summer. But, today, I still savor my soy-filled, chocolate-covered acai berries. I still dive into a pre-made gluten free brownie when I get the chance. 

Or both!

Because, even though I suffer from dietary restrictions, I control them, not the other way around. I am in charge of nourishing my body in the best way possible. There is no magic pill - there are just magical people. And every celiac, gluten intolerant, allergy sufferer - following whatever "no" diet that works for them - can be just that. 


What do you think about the tendency to avoid more allergens than gluten? Do you think it's a gateway drug? Comment below! 

Comments

  1. Great post, Casey! I feel the exact same way about the gluten-free diet: it was great to think it would solve everything, and it's been less great to see how much of that "everything" has stuck around even after over a year gluten-free. I've been writing about this stuff on my blog recently, too, so maybe it's the time of year... That brownie looks good, by the way! :)

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    1. Thanks! Definitely - it is much less of a magic pill than one would think. haha that's funny! Must be in the air! :) Keep up your amazing writing - one of my fav blogs to visit! :D

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  2. A "gateway drug"? IMO it's probably more that a lot of these problems have the same or similar triggers or causes. There have been some articles lately talking about the possibility that glyphosate herbicides (Roundup) are a triggering agent for celiac disease. (Or maybe it's the changes made to GMO corn and soy beans to make them resistant to those insecticides.) And there are a lot of chemicals floating around in the environment the effects of which have not been well studied, or haven't been studied at all. Maybe it's the superbugs created by worldwide overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Maybe it's a combination of several of these things.

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    1. Good point. It's kinda scary to think that so any of these allergies are being caused by unknown triggers out of a large pool of possibilities. Thanks for the comment!

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  3. This is such a GREAT post and so relevant too, Casey!! I have been going through the phase lately where I am trying to figure out if I am intolerant to soy or other things. I have come to the conclusion that this is very tiring, and that I just eat gluten and dairy free, and splurge when I want to on treats. Besides, we restrict ourselves enough, and it is frustrating trying to eliminate a million other foods, especially as a college student!

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    1. You're making me blush, haha! I can definitely relate - I've been trying to figure out if any other allergens are bothering me too. I'm glad you're taking control of your life, one way or another! And I agree about college - it makes food ten times harder, (but definitely ten times more rewarding when you get a really good, allergen-friendly meal!) Happy late birthday by the way! Hope you had lots of gluten free, dairy free goodies!

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  4. I definitely agree. It can be frustrating at times, but the meals made by the chefs are top notch! I am always so jealous of your beautiful delicious meals! I eat in the cafeteria for dinner most days, but I only request a chef made meal a few times a week, but when I do, they are delicious! and aw thanks, Casey!! I had a wonderful birthday with my friends and family! I enjoyed a gluten free spaghetti and meatballs dinner made by the cafeteria chefs, and for dessert, I had some chocolate velvet soy ice cream that my roomies bought me at our midnight grocery store run!! Yum :)

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  5. I'm one of those who can't eat more foods than just gluten, but they're from allergies (most of which pre-date my celiac diagnosis). However, I can't help but notice that any time I'm sick (aka: my immune system is weak) my mild allergies, all of a sudden become severe. I don't know much about other foods, but red peppers (which is not an allergen for me) still don't settle well even though my acid reflux is gone.

    I think part of the reason that those with celiac avoid other foods is because they naturally become much more aware of what they're eating. Also, I know a few people who could eat lactose products again once their villi healed! That's about it from here, but I loved this post and your positive attitude. :D

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    1. How interesting that being sick causes other allergies to be more severe, but it definitely makes sense. And I like your reasoning on why those with celiac tend to avoid more food - definitely makes a lot of sense! Thanks for the input and comment, as always :)

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