Being diagnosed with a condition like gluten sensitivity may seem frightening or overwhelming at first. As you learn more about the condition and the way to treat it you’ll find that living with gluten sensitivity is not as difficult as you may originally have thought. The key is an upbeat attitude, a willingness to try new things and the desire to live a healthy, happy life free of uncomfortable symptoms. Read on to learn a bit more about gluten sensitivity along with a few helpful hints to get you started on your path to a gluten free lifestyle.
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity symptoms can vary from person to person. People with this sensitivity generally suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:
- Indigestion (particularly after eating foods that contain gluten)
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Gas and/or bloating
- Aching joints
- Muscle weakness or tenderness
- Chronic itchy rashes
- Inability to concentrate
- Weight loss or weight gain
Diagnosing Gluten Sensitivity
If you have not been formally diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, it’s a good idea to have your doctor perform a gluten sensitivity test. There are a few ways to test – the easiest and simplest way is a blood test that checks for the antibodies Anti-tTG, AGA and EMA. This blood test will determine how serious the sensitivity is and whether or not you have a more serious, but related, condition called celiac disease.
Another way to diagnose this condition is to try a gluten free cooking for a period of time – generally 3 months or more. If symptoms disappear then it’s likely that the cause was the ingestion of gluten.
Gluten Sensitivity vs Celiac Disease
In celiac disease, the intestines have an autoimmune reaction whereby the lining of the intestines becomes damaged and unable to absorb nutrients. In gluten sensitivity, a person may suffer from similar symptoms and the intestines may become irritated, but there is no damage to the intestines.
If you have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity there are a few things that you can do to get support. Modifying your diet isn’t easy and it takes willpower and determination to try new things and leave behind old habits.
- Look for local support groups that meet regularly. They are a great place to exchange celiac recipes, get tips and ideas and make new friends.
- National charities and organizations like the Coeliac Society can be a great resource to draw on for recipes and research.
- Make a plan. Determine how you will become gluten free over a short period of time by choosing one meal a week to focus on. Week one try to eat gluten free for every breakfast. Week two, incorporate gluten free menus for lunch as well. Week three, tackle gluten free dinners. Within a month you’ll be eating gluten free without the stress of doing it all at once.
Gluten sensitivity is treatable. Once you get into the swing of things you’ll find that gluten free eating is easy to accomplish and is just as tasty – but without the uncomfortable side effects!