This post is a result of a question from Ginger, a lady who is new to the gluten free life. My "add" button traditionally has been used to welcome new followers (though not faithfully, I fear; if I missed putting up a welcoming post for you, I welcome you now!), but it seems appropriate here as well. Though perhaps the option should be "-remove" since the gluten free path is about taking things away.
Ginger's question is, "I am new to the gluten free world. Do you have any encouraging tips or websites you would recommend?"
This post is really an expansion of my "Welcome to Gluten Free Sleuth" note to the left of my blog, with some added thoughts, concerns, and a few sleuth finds thrown in for good measure.
The purpose of this blog is two-fold. I use it as a reference myself, all the time. I am constantly coming here while I am putting together a new dish or revamping an old one, using the search engine to see if or what I posted concerning a particular ingredient, etc. The second purpose is to share my findings and thoughts with others out there who are looking for information. The gluten free (and other food allergies) life is a complex one and our best weapon we have is information. The Google search engine is a wonderful invention.
Whenever I find new websites, I usually post them and add the "Sleuth Report" label. The title to those posts vary (my most recent was from February 26, Just Sleuthering About). The best way to find those is to look at my labels which are listed in the left-hand column and click on "Sleuth Report." All of them will come up and you can look through them at your leisure.
I especially encourage you to read the one for February 8th. Go to the link under "The Gluten Free Life" which is an article entitled "The Gluten Free Kitchen." The best thing you can do for yourself is work to make your home safe. We finally made the difficult decision to eliminate any glutenous flour from our home. If there is any baking, it is either with gluten free products, or else it is with prepared doughs, such as those that Pillsbury puts out in the dairy case. Flour gets everywhere and it only takes one molecule of gluten to cause damage. Here are links to a couple of sites where this is discussed: the article, "How much gluten is in a normal diet and how much gluten does it take to cause damage to a celiac?" is at celiac.com and at the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, read the paragraph under the second heading in this article, How Does Gluten Cause Damage?.
In my search for that information, I ran across an article by Ron Hoggan. In the article he speculates the possibility that there might be a link between atherosclerosis and gluten. The author says at this point it is just speculative, but I link to it because of information he gives about Celiac itself. Be warned, this is heady a heady discussion. I should mention that I had a lady who works in a pharmacy and is very up on Celiac caution me of the danger of atherosclerosis due to the inflammation a Celiac has and I notice there is no date on this article, so perhaps clinical studies have been done by now.
The article is linked to from this page, which has links to a lot more information that looks like it would be useful. I have not explored it as yet, beyond the link to Ron Hoggan's book, Dangerous Grains, which my friend and follower of this blog, Jennifer has mentioned to me before.
I have heard of many people who start out not being able to eat gluten and later become unable to have other foods, such as dairy, soy and/or eggs, as has happened to me. Early on, it was recommended that I cut back on my dairy consumption, but I love cheese and yogurt and such (haven't been a milk drinker since I was little) and just wouldn't do it. Now, I wish I had heeded that suggestion, as I wonder if consuming smaller amounts would have enabled me to avoid the extreme reaction I now have. Moderation is always a good idea.
Honestly, some of the most important information we need is far from encouraging, but it is needful and can keep us out of trouble later on. My December 7, 2009 post, Sleuthing Again, has a serious warning in the Update. Warnings are depressing, but important.
I have spent a lot of time researching the web for all things gluten, from medical findings to makeup to recipes. My labels aren't as organized as I would like, because I tend to make them up as I go along, but I believe they are thorough. You can look through them and find the categories that interest you.
I was just alerted to an article on make up by my friend Sarah (of the label, "Sarah bakes again"). It is called, "Is it Time to Break Up with Your Gluten-filled Make Up?" It comes from Gluten Freeville, another site I will add to my blogroll and will be exploring. It looks fantastic.
Another site I ran across recently is called Strawberries are Gluten Free. I confess that the berry itself is indeed gluten free, but I have long been wary of where my strawberries are grown. At this point, I only eat them if they are grown in California or by me. The reason for this is that they are grown in a straw mulch and if that mulch is wheat, rye or barley, they can be glutenified. There is a discussion here where many people weigh in on this issue. I haven't been able to locate any definitive scientific findings on the web anywhere yet. Sometimes the trick is in the wording of the search. If you have anything to add, please do so in the form of a comment.
In spite of the confusion, I plan to add Strawberries are Gluten Free to my blogroll as well. :)
Pondering the Gluten Free Life
The truth is that the gluten free life is not an easy life. There are so many issues that do not occur to us in the beginning and mostly we learn the hard way. For me, this has been a path strewn with physical pain (for more reasons than getting gluten, I believe), but the Lord has sustained me. Many Celiacs do not experience any symptoms if they get gluten, which I believe is more dangerous. Even without symptoms, the body is damaged every time a Celiac consumes even a single crumb of bread, but the lack of symptoms gives them more confidence than they should have.
We live in a fallen world, corrupted by sin. Because of this, we are not going to experience optimal health for our whole lives. Some people have problems sooner than others, but we are all in the process of dying. We will all die because in one way or another, or bodies will cease to function. This is why it is important to look beyond the grave to eternity and seek forgiveness from our sins from the Lord Jesus Christ while we may (for more information about this you can go to my other blog, All We Like Sheep, or spend some serious time in the Holy Bible).
I hope this has helped you, Ginger. Be sure and check out the links all along the left side of this blog to medical doctors who are familiar with our condition, to other bloggers with recipes to share, and to great websites with pertinent information. I pray that you do well.