Living and Thriving Gluten Free

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You can cheat on a gluten free diet with Celiac disease... Right?


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Image by: Rita E

When you have Celiac disease you're required to eat 100% gluten free. This is a requirement that should be taken seriously. Far more seriously than many other diseases. There simply is no room for error, and no room for cheating. You can’t have “just a little.” There is no meaningful dosage that you can get away with.

It’s not that it will slow your recovery. It will stop it, and put you right back at square one, or make it even worse.

There are far too many support groups where large numbers of people say they can “cheat” and they feel fine.

It’s important to know that much of the damage done to the body when you have Celiac disease and are still consuming gluten, is silent, and not immediately noticeable to you (we’ll cover some of these things later in this article). It’s also important to know that many people don’t even know that gluten causes damage outside of the stomach, so keep that in mind if you hear someone say something along those lines.

Consequences of Denial

When you hear people say that some people can cheat, and that they're ok, be aware that much of this attitude will come from a place of denial. They simply do not want to be compliant, and they simply refuse to accept the fact that they should be. There are many people grasping at straws to avoid having to put in the work required to truly heal.

There are also a lot of people who have joined the “fad” of gluten free. These people are not serious about their health. They have no diagnosis, whether formal or well self diagnosed, not even a basic understanding of celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergies, etc.

They’ve just joined the diet as the latest fad, to get attention, or for whatever reason. These people are the reason there are so many derogatory jokes about gluten free in the media. These people are also very vocal, since many of them have taken on the gluten free “badge” for attention. Unfortunately, this contributes to a lot of misinformation.

They’re the ones who spread the lies that people in Europe can eat European wheat without a problem, or that you just need organic wheat, or you need to eat sourdough bread instead.

None of these things are true. All of these things have been disproven in the scientific literature, as well as in clinical practice.

The fact remains, you must abstain from gluten 100% if you have Celiac disease.

Getting Informed

Let’s talk about what happens when you don’t adhere to a 100% gluten free diet. This section is not mean to scare you, it’s meant for you to be fully informed, to understand the importance of maintaining a gluten free diet, to get a handle on the seriousness of Celiac disease.

One thing about Celiac disease is that you do have the power to take your recovery into your own hands, and make big strides either in full reversal of damage, or in greatly improving your health. There are many diseases that people sort of just get stuck with, and there’s very little they can do.

Even though it can seem overwhelming if you’re newly diagnosed, there is a ton that you can do.

Being aware of the things that are directly related to gluten ingestion in those with Celiac disease, and that are made worse by being non compliant, allows you to understand what conditions have a high chance of improving, or never starting in the first place, if you’re diligent in staying gluten free.

These are a number of conditions that occur in higher rates of those with Celiac disease who do not maintain a 100% gluten free diet:

  • Allergic disorders
  • Anemia
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune liver disorders
  • Autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bowel disease
  • Certain types of cancers
  • Chromosomal disorders
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Connective tissue diseases
  • Dental disease - repeating abscesses, decay, enamel destruction
  • Depression, and other mood disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Increased risk of infertility or miscarriage
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Migraine headaches
  • Neurological diseases
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)

This is only a partial list, but it should give you an idea of the far reach into our overall health that Celiac disease, and eating gluten free, will have. It’s not just a fussy minor inconvenience.

You will likely get a lot of pushback from your family, friends, co-workers, strangers, and anyone else alive who feels their opinion is worth more than your health. But now you have a big “why” that can really help you stand your ground, and feel more confident in the decisions you make to stay gluten free. My hope is that you won’t feel as pressured to question your gluten free decision.

Lack of Knowledge

The reality is that the vast majority of the public and the medical system simply have no idea how serious Celiac disease is. In a perfect world, people would know all this stuff. But, unfortunately, that’s not the reality.

You live in a time where the knowledge is new, and not widely known. That can make it a bit more challenging. However, the most important thing is that YOU know this stuff.

I encourage you to continue to learn all that you can. And to learn how to prepare food that will work to heal you, and that’s tasty and delicious. There’s lots to learn, but the more you learn, the more empowered you'll be, and the more control you’ll have over how you feel now, and long into the future. You’re on the path to being your best advocate to your health and well being.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact me - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thora Toft

NCBI - National Center for Biotechnology Information
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