Not All Glutards Are Alike

Also keep in mind that not everyone reacts the same.

Happy New Year everyone! Thought I might start it off with another little Glutarded thought post. Sorry, I got no other photos for this one.

I recently came across this post from urban tastebuds that has a list of foods that are GF – while some of it is obvious (like fruit, meat, or dairy – duh), it does also include lists of GF condiments, alcohols, and convenience store snacks like chips and soda.
Just to warn you, however, don’t take this list verbatim – I have spent enough time and effort eating GF that I know that some of the items are not entirely accurate or safe for all Glutards.

For example, with alcohols, the process of distillation can remove the gluten from their beverage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s completely safe for everyone. I’ve met people who are GF who can, and cannot drink all whiskeys – I am one of them: I can drink single malt scotch because it’s only barley, which happens to not be a problem with me, but I can’t drink other whiskeys or blends even if they are technically safe to drink.

I’ve also read articles about Corona beer being safe for some celiacs – something about the distillation removing irritants or something, I don’t quite remember.

I get the feeling that this blogger looked at the ingredients lists or negligible remnants which technically qualify, staking his claim on those and those alone. Not that I can verify one way or another – I simply know that some ingredients/places I’ve had experiences with that are on the list are definitely not safe, at least to me (hello major contamination problems).

However, this does bring up an interesting point.

When it comes to the blanket term “gluten” there are, you could say, 3 different categories of sensitivity: Celiac, Gluten Allergy, and Grain Allergy.

I am the last.

To explain:

There are four grains that can cause problems for the average Glutard: Wheat, Rye, Oats, and Barley. Some people must avoid all four, some only wheat, and others (like myself) can handle some but not all.

Celiac refers to Celiac disease which is defined on as “a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.”
Primarily this comes up as digestive issues, nausea, vomiting, anemia/malnutrition and can lead to other immune, functionary (neurological, organ failure) issues and even cancer. As such, this is one that you really can’t risk messing around with.
This is diagnosed via a blood test.

Gluten Allergy, Gluten Intolerance, or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity refers to a sensitivity to the gluten protein found in certain grains (wheat, rye, barley).  Much like a nut allergy, this can lead to irritation, congestion, and in extreme cases anaphylaxis. Other extreme symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting. It’s like being lactose intolerant – you eat, and your body throws up the battle flag, and screams “get out now” and “you shall not pass.”
Also, there is no real way of testing for this. Some doctors will try saliva, blood, or stool, but they aren’t completely accurate or reliable so it really comes down to trial and error.

Then there’s the Grain Allergy. This is a bit more similar to Hay Fever (external irritant). Like with pollen or cat saliva (did you know its the saliva/skin flakes and not the fur that’s troublesome?), an external reaction is present, providing symptoms somewhat similar to the gluten allergy (irritation of the skin, itchiness, rash). It’s not a DNA bit found inside the grain, but the grain itself that is the problem. Coming in contact with the allergen creates a reaction to what it touches. This also can manifest digestive symptoms like nausea and stomach pains since, after all, by ingesting it you’re creating a contact with your insides.
This is not tested via blood or guesswork but a certifiable skin test. Very different.

My battle with a sudden introduction to the idea of “allergies” can be found here, but the short and long of it is I learned of my allergy via a skin-scrape test. The result showed that I had an allergy to wheat, rye, and oats. It was a slight allergy, but who cares? Why ingest something that’s not good for you even if it is minimal?

So I cut it out completely. And after a few months of trying and failing, learning my way around the allergy thing, I was finally able to have a full 3 months without slipping, which got the contaminates completely out of my system.

What I didn’t expect at this point was that the allergy would now be able to present itself in full swing. Oh, there’s soy sauce in that? itchy mouth. You put beer in the gravy? Dry, chapped lips and sudden rosacea. Let me clean up this flour off the table – bright red hands and rash up to my wrists.

yaaayyy allergies…….

See that’s the thing – once I was free and clear, my body was finally free to react appropriately. My immune system was no longer sluggish and overwhelmed, and could react as it might to a cat (another allergy I have now. Grumble).

God I miss oatmeal.

I can tell within 20 minutes if I’ve had something I shouldn’t. Sometimes less. I get itchy, flushed, dry-mouthed – the best alert for me is that I start picking at my lips which are suddenly drier than the Sahara and desperate to be free of the irritation.

Amusing fact that one – my mom was always yelling at me for having chapped lips. She’s all “you have cancer! That’s a sign of cancer!” ….Or simply an allergic reaction, mom, calm down.

On the rare occasion that something goes truly wrong, I get stomach pains, bloating, and nausea but its much more infrequent.

Point is, know your ailment. Not everyone reacts the same. Not everyone has the same grain issues. What is fine for one, might be devastating for another – Not all Glutards are alike.


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