The easiest and most affordable way to figure out if gluten affects you is to do a 2-week gluten elimination trial (and see how you feel) and then provoke or challenge with gluten (and see how you feel). The 2 week trial will mean zero consumption of food containing wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale or oats. Oats must also be excluded as they are frequently contaminated with gluten during processing. It really is best that you eat home-made, real, whole foods (always, but especially during the trial) as gluten is so often “hidden” in many processed foods. Watch for ingredients like hydrolyzed protein, textured vegetable protein and all derivatives of wheat, oats, rye and barley (including barley malt, modified starch, most soy sauces and natural flavoring).
Other wonderful grains and nutritious starchy vegetables
Rice, corn and buckwheat are acceptable, as are the wonderful ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth. You can find gluten-free-everything – pasta, crackers, you-name-it – made from rice, bean, potato, coconut and corn flour. There are also many wonderful recipes books but some call for margarine, soy milk and excessive sugar – so make substitutions as needed. Rather than simply replacing the problem grain with another grain, consider incorporating more vegetables into your diet. Starchy vegetables like sweet potato and squashes are a wonderfully nutritious source of carbohydrates.
Adding back the gluten
Once you have removed the gluten from your diet and seen improvements in your mood and other symptoms (digestive, pain, skin etc), add it back after 2 weeks and see if it affects you adversely. This test is often more powerful for my clients than any lab test. I’ve seen symptoms ranging from severe mood swings to terrible anxiety to stomach aches to general aches and pains to fatigue and brain fog (and all of the above in some very sensitive individuals). If you experience any of the above, then it’s important that you remove gluten from your diet and work with someone to do additional testing. I’ll cover additional testing in a future blog post.
See here for part 1 (Gluten, your mood and your health) and read more about this and other food intolerances in my forthcoming book The Antianxiety Food Solution – How the Foods you eat can calm your anxious mind, improve mood and end cravings. Find out more at www.antianxietyfoodsolution.com