(Mostly) Gluten Free

In Food and Health, Gluten-free, Mindful Eating on May 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I’ve been (mostly) gluten-free for 18 months now. Do I like it? No, I really miss good beer. Did I plan it? No, it was a mistake. Do I have to do it? Well, yeah, dang it.

My wife (Dr. Mary) gets the credit (blame) for this usually. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she got so low on iron and vitamin D that she nearly had to be hospitalized. The diet is pretty difficult to follow and very strict, plus it took some of her favorite foods away, so I did the diet with her for the first couple months for moral support.

Along comes a night out with a couple buddies, I have 2 Guinness and a burger on a bun and wham!!  I’m really sick.  “That was weird, must’ve been food poisoning,” I think.  Another month of carefully minding my gluten with my wife, then I get tired of sweet, weak gluten-free beer and get a Guinness.  You guessed it, another wham!!

By now even I’m getting a little suspicious about the end of the story, but I’m stumped because I’m nowhere near as sensitive as Mary but I absolutely have some invisible limit I had better not cross.  I’m pretty flexible when it comes to eating but the beer thing is killing me, so I keep testing my new-found limits, finally arriving at the one-Guinness-every-ten-days rule.

Meanwhile, other scientists are doing slightly more respectable experiments and one, Dr. Alessio Fasano, published his study in March.  This link to a great article by Jane Anderson about the findings can give you the details.  In essence, he found that even people without the worst, most dangerous kind of gluten allergy can have real (painful!) reactions to gluten that can make them sick.

Aha!  I’m not crazy!  I’d be happier if he had figured out how I can drink Guinness though…

  1. Small World Dr Fesano was the peds gi doc @ University of Maryland when I was a resident.

  2. wow cool connection, does that mean you’re the local Celiac guru?

  3. Does changing to a mostly gluten-free diet have any benefits if you’re not allergic to gluten?

    • Kat, that is an excellent question that no one really has an answer to. The study I quoted shows there are many millions of people that are sensitive to gluten in certain quantities but not actually allergic. For those people, generally folks that never have a happy belly and are always having indigestion, nausea, etc. I have been recommending a 2-week trial strictly gluten-free. If it doesn’t help, no harm done (except to the pocket book since that stuff is expensive!) If it does help then gradually putting small amounts of gluten back into the diet until discomfort is reached will tell them how much they can tolerate. For me, it’s that one lonely Guinness every 10 days 😦

  4. […] store and carefully choose the restaurants I patronize for several reasons.  Organic?  Great.  Gluten-free?  A must for my family with my wife’s severe allergy and my pretty severe intolerance.  […]

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