Season 1 Episode 8 of Quiet the Diet Podcast with Michelle Shapiro, RD
Should You Eat Gluten? with Michelle Shapiro, RD
In this solo episode, Michelle chats about how you know if you should eat gluten, the nuances relating to gluten and elimination diets, and why most people go about this conversation in the wrong way. She discusses her “middle ground approach” to eliminating gluten and other foods that may be causing your symptoms. You’ll hear about:
- If you should consider eliminating gluten (and how!)
- Symptoms of gluten sensitivity
- Ways you can respond to opinions about your choice to not eat gluten
- How gluten may damage the gut lining and cause an immune/ inflammatory response
- Healing the long-term effects of gluten-induced gut damage
- What to consider with gluten and eating disorders
- Elimination and FODMAP diets
- Why dairy may not be a concern
I know I don’t have to tell you this but this episode is only for educational purposes. It is not nutrition or personalized medical advice. We want you to get the most from the episode but to keep that in mind as well and we really hope you enjoy it
The Basics of Gluten and Elimination Diets
Welcome to the gluten episode of quiet the diet. We’re going to talk about gluten and if you should be eating it, we’re going to talk about elimination diets. And we’re hopefully going to talk about both of those in a very nuanced way. And maybe conversations that we haven’t heard before when it comes to gluten. In my normal discussion of the dichotomy in the world between those who are aggressively pursuing health changes, and those who believe that the pursuit of health changes might be mentally damaging, we kind of see the same conversational divide when it comes to gluten. On one hand, there’s kind of this argument from the body positivity side saying that you can eat gluten if you don’t have celiac disease, and actually restricting gluten may be harmful for your health.
On the other hand, many of us in the functional nutrition and functional medicine world are adamantly against clients and patients consuming gluten at all. It’s actually one of the first things that you hear in a lot of these functional medicine, nutrition appointments is cut out all gluten and cut out all dairy. It’s super inflammatory and can’t be digested by anyone. So there’s kind of these two really, really strong arguments that I’ve been seeing in the nutrition world. And of course, who gets left out high and dry you the consumer, the client, the patient. So I’m going to clear up a little bit about gluten in this episode a little bit about elimination diets, and hopefully, let you the listener understand more about how we kind of landed in this spot where we’re just not sure about gluten, it seems on the surface.
What is Gluten?
So first of all, when we’re talking about gluten, we’re talking about these specific protein inside of wheat products. And that would be generally breads, pastas, any kind of wheat flour derivative, so baked goods, bagels, you know, breads, things like that. It’s also found in things like soy sauce, which a lot of people don’t know and can often be used in sauces, as well as the thickening agent.
The difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
The rates of celiac disease, which is the primary disease we think of which is really an allergy to gluten, which creates this very specific autoimmune response, when someone eats gluten have gone up drastically, I think somewhat, something like 400%, and in the last 50 years or so even maybe 50 to 60 years or so that in and of itself is you know, should ring kind of the alarm for us that that something is going on with our digestion as a whole.
So when we talk about gluten for the rest of this conversation, I want us to take the stigma out of the word gluten and take the idea that consumption of any food any one food in the entire world is going to kill us our hormones so that we should be afraid of foods that we are bad if we eat them. Let’s take that off the table. And let’s just talk about the science of what we’re seeing when it comes to gluten and eating gluten products. So I will say that I have worked with over 1000 clients over the past eight and a half years. And I do notice that anecdotally to start with many clients who have severe gut issues.
There is a belief in our society that if you do not have celiac disease diagnosed, you are not allowed to remove gluten from your diet. This comes in one of two kinds of manifestations. I see this happening a tremendous amount in doctors offices, where people are coming in with mysterious got symptoms and really want answers to those symptoms. So they’re looking for some sort of diagnoses and one day Doctors are testing them for celiac disease. They’re only testing a, a small number of possible immune responses that one could be having when eating gluten. If you are having any other immune responses to gluten, or or response, otherwise, they’re not going to be picked up in conventional medical doctors offices generally.
Of course, there are some awesome doctors who run more comprehensive testing. This idea that we have to have a diagnosis before we experiment with our diets, or before we start to try to see what’s going on with us is is a really, for lack of a better word. It’s a bullshit argument. Because I don’t believe that anyone should suffer for the name or sake of science, like you don’t have this specific diagnosis. But you feel a lot better when you do this thing. I think we should listen to our bodies a lot more than we listen to lab tests. And that’s hard for me to say because I do love lab tests. But if right off the bat, someone is going to a doctor’s office and verbally telling a doctor or dietitian or any sort of practitioner, that they feel better when removing gluten from their diet. That’s honestly a gold standard for us that you are not tolerating gluten, and then likely should not be eating it to feel your best.
Well, what I need to hammer home here is that you can be intolerant or sensitive to eating gluten fully, even from a testing standpoint. And a your doctor might not be running that test. or be it might not show up on lab tests, because actually a majority of people who have something called non celiac gluten sensitivity, which means you don’t have celiac disease, but you do react to eating gluten do not have gut specific responses, aka most people feel it as presented by mood changes, exhaustion, and other symptoms pain.
What are the symptoms of gluten sensitivity?
So there’s a tremendous amount of research showing us that eating gluten can lead to further degradation of mood and all of these things, I will tell you for myself on a totally anecdotal and personal level, that when I eat gluten, and I really haven’t consumed it for probably about seven years, but if I accidentally consume it, I have no gut symptoms whatsoever, within 24 hours of consumption, I actually start having what I call existential dread. So I just I’ll start saying, What’s the meaning of life? I’ll start listening to more emo music. And I’ll start tapping in and noticing my emotions are dysregulated. And for me, that’s a sign I’ll think back and go, oh, did I get spicy tuna? Was there soy sauce in there.
And it’s very predictive for me. And I often had the same response. One study showed that up to 85% of symptoms that people experience from consumption of gluten are actually not gut related.
What to say to those who question your decision to avoid gluten
This idea when we go into a restaurant that, you know, I love this when I have clients who are just starting to maybe, you know, engage with a gluten free diet, and they go into a restaurant and say, you know, I want to make sure this is gluten free. And the waiter says, Hey, do you have celiac? Or do you have gluten intolerance?
Generally, of course, the reason they’re asking this is because they want to know, you know, behind the scenes, we’re not going to use the same fire not, you know, what do we need to do? But the question is actually asking, Are you serious enough about this? And are you sick enough about this? And for me, if I feel depression or existential dread for an entire day, after consuming gluten, I feel really strongly that I don’t want to consume it, you know, it could really throw me off and make me feel not well, just because I don’t have those gut symptoms. And just because of one very, very specific lab test, doesn’t tell me that I have celiac disease, which I actually don’t know I’ve never been tested but doesn’t mean that my symptoms are less important than someone who has celiac disease.
Now, I need to explain this. Some people with non celiac gluten sensitivity Do you experience less symptoms than people with celiac disease, and Celiac disease is a little bit more measurable also, because you can actually visibly see gut damage sometimes, or all the time in most cases, you can see gut damage. But the experience of being ill from consumption of one specific food, the level of illness should not matter if someone doesn’t want to feel ill or consume it. So I just want you to know that if you are interested in cutting gluten out of your diet, you don’t need to justify that to me or to any or waiter or anyone else.
You should not have to show your kind of celiac papers when you go to a restaurant in order not to be sick by eating gluten. And I think on a higher level concept to this idea that we’re entitled to eat food the way we want to eat food and to choose healthy habits or choose whatever habits we want is a broad issue too, because again, it’s this idea that you have to earn not eating gluten, you have to have celiac disease. I always find it so honestly creepy when anyone’s with their family members or friends and their friends are inquiring at a dinner table. What their medical diagnosis is. So if someone says I’m not eating gluten that should be validating and justifying enough. And my advice to you is if you are engaging on a gluten free journey or gluten reduced journey, just own it, I would say that I sometimes apply a little humor. If someone says like, do you have celiac disease as a response to I’m not eating gluten, you can just ask it right back. I do this mirroring game a lot to do you have celiac disease? Oh, okay.
Are we asking each other questions about each other’s health? How are your bowel movements, that person, it’s lovely for that person to have an opinion whether you should be eating gluten, it’s lovely for you know, a medical professional to have an opinion about it. And it’s an entirely different thing when you are the person who has to deal with the illness after. So that one second decision to advocate for yourself. If it means you not being sick for a couple of days, it might really be worth it. And I know it’s hard. I know, there’s so much stigma around making these choices for ourselves. And by the way, I haven’t even gotten to the part of the episode yet where I say if I agree with whether you should be reducing gluten from your diet or not. But if it is a choice that you are looking to make, there are some strategies and ways that you can do that in a in a social setting, because I know it can be challenging, I often call ahead or as my clients to call ahead to a restaurant also to ask if they have gluten free options.
And again, just kind of my tips for that conversation would be a you can kind of brush it off and do the mirroring a little bit, which is a little gas lady, but I’m giving you permission to do that. And you can also say, if you wanted to justify yourself, but you absolutely don’t have to. Yeah, I just feel better when I don’t need it. Thank you for asking. In general, when it comes to people making comments about what you are eating or doing. You can also always say this, I value your opinion so much. I’m actually good. And I know exactly what I’m doing right now. If I need help, you’re the first person I’m going to ask. This is an easy way to be kind and gentle with a person who’s trying to understand you or in some cases help you. And it’s also a way to, frankly, move the conversation along a little bit and set those boundaries in a really easy way. So our rates of celiac disease over the years have gone up dramatically.
How does gluten affect the gut?
We don’t have very distinct measurements for this non celiac gluten sensitivity. But we do have a lot of studies that that kind of show us that some people when eating gluten do tend to have again more of these potential mood responses, energy responses, and other some negative health outcomes. For scientific understanding of why that happens, we have a couple of different ideas about the mechanisms of why that might happen for people. First of all, the wheat that we see today, and the gluten that we see in the wheat today is far different than what our ancestors consumed. I just want to make one thing clear.
Also, if you are experiencing symptoms from eating gluten, you’re not making it up. It’s not in your head. And it’s not something that you’re doing for fun, like other people think that you’re just making it up for fun, or Oh, it’s a trendy thing to be gluten free. If you have all these mysterious symptoms, and you want to experiment with something, I just want to give you that permission and tell you it’s okay. And it’s not a fun fad for you, I understand that you actually don’t feel well, and you actually are looking for help. And I commend you for doing that, honestly. So the actual consumption of wheat has actually been only for a small portion of our history.
And this is a big kind of argument in the Paleo community, which is that, you know, we’ve only been consuming wheat for 11,000 years, compared to the long history of, of course, all other foods. So we’re not sure what it’s doing kind of to us internally, same thing we feel about things like seed oils, kind of the newer and, and altered products. We’re not sure how it’s working kind of in our health and environment of our bodies. And we also have much higher rates of every single chronic illness now that we have. So we’re also trying to draw these conclusions. So as an example of someone who has celiac disease, what kind of happens when we eat gluten is we’re eating some sort of a wheat product. It’s getting to our digestive system, specifically talking about our small intestine. By the time it gets to our small intestine, our small intestine has a aligning to it.
The science of how gluten acts in the body
And I think of it as being kind of like our immune system is kind of like the infantry at the lining of our intestine. And what’s proposed is that gluten and some other products increase the release of a protein called Zonulin and Zonulin. Basically, if you can picture make spaces in between all of your infantry, so it means that things can move in and out of your small intestine. And what happens when is that once it reaches the blood, there might be some sort of an antibody response and an attack created onto that gluten protein molecule. When that happens, there’s two issues that arise. Remember the gluten is kind of making its way out of the gut. Through the infantry and once it gets through, your body doesn’t recognize this object, it’s in the wrong place and start to mount an attack. In doing that it can also mount an attack on your actual infantry, you know your gut lining in that area, which means that more tiny little holes can be created and inflammatory damage can be created.
And since a majority of our immune system is located inside of our gut, this is where the issue arises. The other issue with gluten specifically, is that this what we call molecular mimicry, which means that gluten itself looks somewhat like our thyroid hormones. So our body can also mount an attack on to our thyroid hormones thinking it’s gluten, it notices that something is wrong. This is somewhere that it shouldn’t be. This is an object that isn’t supposed to be here, and mounts and attack as your body. We want our bodies to mount attacks on things to get negative toxins and toxins out of our body when necessary and kill. Right. That’s what we wanted to do.
The issue is when you have this level of inflammation that’s chronic and become systemic. And this is seen in in celiac disease primarily, but we believe there’s that a component of this mechanism is also happening for people with non celiac gluten sensitivity. The question is, do I believe or do scientists, researchers and dieticians doctors believe that this is happening in every person all the time? My answer would be probably to some degree. But the more important conversation here is sure we’re talking about gluten specifically. But when it comes to all of food, the question is, what environment is the food going into? Not so much the food and itself. So let me give you an example of this, too. So if you had a fire burning somewhere, and you pour more fuel on the fire, just like the phrase, the fire gets grander. If you pour fuel on a fire that isn’t burning, nothing happens. Right?
Is all wheat and gluten the same?
So the question is, what is the relative risk from person to person of consuming gluten? I believe that to some degree, wheat and its other components in it, and potentially pesticides that are sprayed on, it can create issues, to even the tiniest degree in almost every single person. Not all wheat, not ancient wheat, not ancient grains. But the current wheat that we’re seeing today is is generally quite hard for especially in America is quite hard for people to digest. This is also why people experience upon traveling, you must have heard this from your friends when talking about gluten, when they go to other countries. Oh, you know, my friend who has celiac can go to Italy and eat pasta, but they can’t eat it here. Again, we’re not exactly sure if it’s the fact that it sprayed with glyphosate. Or if it’s the fact that it’s just a more old and ancient and better prepared version of gluten. The current wheat products we have now are also incredibly high in gluten.
So what I want to get at here for you is that if you’re a person with perfect health, and you can tolerate gluten, there’s not a distinct reason to cut it out of your diet. But the reality of the situation is most of us have fires burning within us. Most of us have some level of chronic inflammation happening. Most of us have some sort of metabolic dysfunction. Okay, here’s the harder part of the conversation. When it comes to functional medicine and functional medicine doctors and functional nutritionist, removing gluten from the diet is often a first step in reducing the issues that gluten causes. In the case of celiac disease, if you remove gluten from the diet, that may stop the symptoms in the short term. Because the actual issue right the thing that starting the fire is removed. But if there is damage to your intestines, or your gut in any area, in any organ and your digestive system, what’s going to happen is that damage doesn’t go away. As self healing as our body can be.
How to restore the gut lining after removing gluten
What I see the biggest flaw of functional practitioners is we remove gluten from the diet, but then what you’re taking away the thing that might be pissing your body off, for sure. But you have to then add things in to seal and heal the lining of the gut. So just removing gluten from your diet will never fix your gut problems, you then have to potentially address your microbiome, you then potentially have to address the lining of your gut, you then have to address any other dysbiosis going on. So what we always need to remember is that just willy nilly cutting things out of our diet might temporarily stop some symptoms from happening. And let me tell you, that can be huge for you.
That can be huge for someone who’s experiencing constant gut issues. And if it’s something as small as cutting gluten from the diet and the reason I say Adding gluten from the diet as small as because you can immediately replace the carbohydrates. You know, it’s quite easy for us to get enough carbohydrates when we, you know, consume grains, there’s non gluten containing grains like rice, oatmeal, and then of course starchy vegetables and all these things too. So there’s, there’s loads of ways to get enough carbohydrates. That’s not generally what’s people are missing in their diets.
Should we reconsider eating gluten in eating disorders?
And the nutrients found in wheat products are, are quite low, the micronutrients, at least the vitamins and minerals, and are actually in the digestive process often eliminated, due to sometimes the fiber content or other anti nutrients, which we do not absolutely, absolutely will not be getting into, intentionally. But this idea of taking gluten out of your diet as a potential to be a cause for an eating disorder or for disordered eating is something that I think we have to address to.
So I know that for many of my friends who work in eating disorder clinics, restriction of any type of food is considered disordered, and, and very much prohibited. And in the case of conditions where someone needs to be impatient for eating disorders, and has a formal diagnosis of an eating disorder, I absolutely understand the urgency to not create more food fear, and the emergency level that that exists, where there’s quite a bit of gray area is a for people who are have a healthy relationship with food, there are about close to now we believe 70% of the population is suffering from some sort of chronic illness.
So the level of eating disorders is not proportionate. So there has to be some group of people who do not have eating disorders and who also want to feel better, and want to eliminate gluten. So again, it’s this idea that if you feel you should stop eating gluten in your diet, you have an eating disorder instantly, or you have disordered eating instantly for me, is not at all nuanced, and really leaves people out who are trying everything to get better results for their health. So I want you also if you’re a person who has experienced disordered eating, but has really made a safer and healthier relationship with food and and wants to start kind of engaging in the elimination of gluten or doing something else to be gut healing, I just want to say it’s okay for you to have these thoughts. It’s okay for you to want to experiment. What I really want people to avoid is thinking that they should stop eating gluten as the answer and that that’s going to be the magic cure, because that’s certainly not the case. It might be something that’s irritating your gut, but very rarely is gluten itself, the root cause unless and in the case, again of celiac disease, but the root cause of all health ails, I would say that consuming it can, again, for sure cause further issues.
Can eliminating gluten improve mood and food cravings?
When it comes to eating disordered and disordered eating too. There’s actually a group of people that are often left out of the equation altogether. We believe that eating disorders started in the brain as mental disorders, or disorders of some, again, emotional sort, or a manifestation of OCD in some cases, or perfectionism. When it comes to eating disorders, what’s not often talked about is that what happens inside of our gut can actually influence our food behaviors. So if we have something like a parasite, that actually can influence our cravings, the feeling of having distension around digestion can make us want saltier or sweeter foods to help with motility.
So actually, what happens inside of our gut, can influence our mental decision to have certain foods and can influence our anxiety around food too. So while there are absolutely times when eating disorders derive from mental reasons, there are times when eating disorders can derive from physical reasons to and if we only explore the mental component of eating disorders, and disordered eating and ignore the fact that dysbiosis in the gut and other conditions of our body can cause those disordered thoughts, we actually won’t be able to get to the root cause of what’s going on with us.
So what this looks like is if someone has disordered eating, and it’s deriving from a physical condition, if we say, Hey, you have to include all foods fit, you have to include these foods, they’re not actually going to be able to get better through just the mental support alone. And there are many people who again, even consumption of gluten itself can create for some people, those physical discomforts and not only physical discomfort, I mean, it can literally alter the way that we crave foods and think about foods that can alter our our brain function. And if it alters our brain function, again, we have to look at the food itself too. And we have to look at what the physical self is telling us.
What to do if removing gluten increases your food anxiety
So if you are a person also who did some sort of a elimination diet and actually notice your relationship with food got better from it, that makes a lot of sense to me and I have seen that happen. What I’m not advising is if you have an active eating disorder, please do not start cutting things out of your diet without a practitioners help. What I’m talking about is exploring, hopefully with a practitioner, especially if you have a diagnosed eating disorder, what else we can do to look at the cause of our eating behaviors. Because yes, there is this hugely mental components eating and there’s also a hugely physical component to it as well. So yes, I have literally seen clients while consuming gluten or other foods that were not working well with them and their digestive environment, I have seen their relationship with food improve through elimination of those foods, which again, is so counter to what we hear all the time, which is that if you cut out any foods, you develop an eating disorder. Well, I’ve seen people cut out foods and develop a better relationship with food, it is entirely possible, but it has to be done strategically and gently at the same time.
Elimination diets and Low FODMAP diets
So it’s really important to understand that nuance. And it’s also very confusing. And I know it’s none of this is black and white. And I always ask you, please be in the gray area with me, please sit in that discomfort of that middle ground, knowing that all of us are so individual, when it comes to elimination diets. And when I think of elimination diets, what I’m generally thinking of is what I see in functional medicine and functional dietitians offices, also what I see in conventional medical offices, which is you basically have a diagnosis like IBS, and the doctor will give you a quote unquote, let’s say low FODMAP plan, maybe a specific carb diet, a GAPS diet, a histamine intolerance diet, the issue, there’s a couple issues with handing someone a diet like that, first of all, it absolutely can create food fears.
So while I’m saying that, cutting some foods out selectively and intentionally for a short period of time, usually a 30 day window can be part of an overall strategy for help. Just cutting foods out of your diet for a very long period of time, is not helpful at all. And the reason it’s not helpful is a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is like I said before, if you’re going on a low FODMAP, diet, and FODMAPs Are we just specific different components of carbohydrates that can potentially cause gastric distress for people, we’ve actually happens to be a FODMAP, which is why I also believe it’s possible people experience gut distress from wheat to another proposed mechanism, there was one really good study that substantiated that also.
So if you remove all FODMAPs, from your diet, and let’s say again, that fire of inflammation isn’t burning as strongly, but whatever damage was done to your gut prior from FODMAPs, or from other inflammatory events, is not going to be instantly fixed from you removing that, yes, it might reduce your symptoms for some time. The other issue is our body is a body of True efficiency. So if we cut out too many different food groups, and too many foods, our body does not lack the ability to digest the food. But it can become harder to reintroduce those foods, the longer that you leave them out. And the goal for any diet should be to eating as diverse of real foods as possible. So cutting out especially when it comes to something like a histamine diet, a low histamine diet, is you’re eliminating citrus fruits, fermented foods, all these things that can be really strongly helpful for your digestive system and your immune system.
Alternatives to traditional elimination diets and Low FODMAP diets
So I think also, when thinking about these diets and approaching them, thinking about eliminating one thing at a time might be a much better move and for a very specified period of time to see what’s working and what isn’t. And we just cut a bunch of foods out, it doesn’t help us understand what’s working and what isn’t. And it really can create new food fears. So that’s my advice. When approaching these also is slow and low and one thing at a time, see how it makes you feel, I think that the evidence is strong for gluten specifically, as a starting place that again, there’s a lot to be explored and ways of the potential mechanisms and modes of action of why eating gluten might cause an issue.
And we have a decent amount of research to understand that also this leaky gut component this you know, those little holes in your infantry can really cause a potential issue and then also the pesticides and all those other glyphosate issues along with eating gluten. So I am not generally afraid to replace gluten in the diet with other foods, either gluten free varieties, or naturally non gluten containing foods. There’s a big difference between eating gluten free cupcakes for lunch every day in consuming sweet potatoes instead of having bread, right, there’s a 100% chance that any person can get the nutrients they need from non gluten foods.
Naturally gluten-free alternatives
If it was even from a cost perspective, rice and oatmeal are as inexpensive as bread is taste wise. I mean the gluten free varieties is a different conversation too. I think you know there are some brands I really like and it’s possible to find those swaps if you want to do the gluten free products. So removing gluten from our diet does Not, this is something that I need to eliminate right away from our brains, which is that it does not cause any sort of deficiencies. So it’s not like it’s dangerous in any capacity to remove specifically gluten from the diet, especially the gluten that we’re seeing, again consumed in America currently, if removing gluten from the diet does cause disordered eating, or an eating disorder, or I wouldn’t say cause but does correlate for someone with disordered eating or an eating disorder, it might not be the right time for you to make, you know, if you feel that’s you, it might not be the right time to make that diet change.
When to know if you should reconsider eating gluten
So I, you know, part of quiet, the diet is also really applying compassion and nuance with every single decision you make. So you have to sit with yourself and say, hey, if I’m not feeling well, and I want to explore this, Does it scare the crap out of me to cut something out of my diet? Does it feel unsafe, then don’t then it’s not your time. But I will say, you know, gluten versus any other food just strictly because the way that it is processed now is quite hard to digest and assimilate for most people. Again, digest doesn’t mean only what happens when it goes through your gut. It’s also what happens in absorption, it happens with the we’re talking about what happens after the fact, with your body’s response.
Should you remove dairy from your diet too? (Maybe not…)
It seems that in many, many, many studies, people report better digestion, better mood with reducing gluten. And again, there’s a lot of different ways and reasons why that happens. Gluten is pretty much alone. And that for me, when it comes to elimination, I, for the longest time was flirting with perhaps dairy is is kind of similar, but the studies are not showing that as much, especially full fat raw, if you can get it, versions of dairy, and certainly not fermented do seem to confer health benefits in consumption.
So while gluten seems to be across the board, either slightly to definitively inflammatory for people, dairy does not seem to be the same. There is obviously a huge issue with lactose intolerance, and people, but you can always get you know, anything that is has no carbs and his dairy. So meaning cheese, which is fat, and protein based only lactose is an enzyme specifically that exists in the carbohydrate portion of dairy. So it does not exist. It’s in very low quantities in Greek yogurt, and it’s in no quantities in cheese. So that’s why if you can’t tolerate ice cream or milk, but you can tolerate cheese, that might be a lactose specific issue.
So again, it was always proposed that dairy itself was causing the same inflammatory response, maybe we weren’t supposed to consume dairy. The studies are not really showing that. But they do show that for gluten. So I would say that, again, with being as nuanced and gentle to your relationship with food as possible, I do feel I owe you this scientific understanding of some of what might be happening to some degree in every single person with the consumption of these foods. If this was a couple 100 years ago, and we were talking about the wheat that existed even 100 years ago, I will be having a different conversation with you. It’s just the current status of what the wheat is that we have available.
Again, do I believe that gluten itself is the root of all evil? And it is the number one cause for all medical disease that we see today? Absolutely not? Do I believe that because most of us live in an environment inside of our bodies with chronic inflammation, that gluten can add fuel to the fire? For most people? I do believe that. So the answer is, to what degree can you tolerate gluten. And if you can avoid in life, removing anything from your diet, it might make your life easier, first of all, and it also might make socializing easier too.
How you should talk to friends when deciding not to eat gluten
And I need to express that I understand how challenging it is to navigate those conversations around if you should eat gluten, especially around people who really believe in the body positivity, you know, all foods fit kind of model. I certainly know for my my clients, all foods definitely don’t fit when you’re chronically ill, and gluten is usually one of those foods. So I will also say that anytime we’re consistently eating something that sickening us, it does not show a lack of a sense of trust, respect and responsibility that our brains and our body have for each other.
So I think it’s very safe to approach a short term, gluten specific elimination diet, but as for if you should be doing the other elimination diets, I really want people to caution against doing them willy nilly cutting any food groups out of their diet that they possibly see as an issue and with doing those for prolonged periods of time because our guts really need food diversity variety, and we want to be able to flex and show our body how resilient it is. So we always want to you know, I always say to my clients, I want you to get away with as much as you can get away with so the goal is never to cut as much out of your diet as possible. But again, there, there is a place where we do have to acknowledge that we products as they stand today are potentially problematic for anyone who’s suffering with chronic inflammation again, which could be up to 70% of our population, and maybe more.
And I just want to go back to our conversation from the beginning of the podcast about, again, dining and restaurants explaining to friends approaching conversations around gluten, I don’t feel anyone should have to justify their food choices to anyone else or explain why the should or should not eat gluten. And now we have people saying, Hey, if you conclude now, and it’s an eating disorder, you have no reason to not eat gluten, if not for celiac disease. I’m telling you right now, I can be your your dietician for the day today, you can send them to this podcast. And I will tell you, there are a million reasons why you should not eat gluten, if you don’t have celiac disease. So I’m giving you permission to have that conversation.
And I’m also letting you know, again, if you have a diagnosed eating disorder or disordered eating, it is never the right move to listen to me. Because this is not nutrition or medical advice, a person from podcasts or your practitioner. So I’m also telling you that I’m talking about in social situations with friends, if you need to say something you can say either A, I am choosing to do this for myself, I’m not open to input right now. Be I thank you so much for your input. I’m actually okay. And if I need help, I’ll ask you or see, you can do the my mirroring example, which is do celiac disease.
Tell me more about your bowel habits at the dinner table? Because that’s basically what the person is asking when they say, Hey, you know, do you have celiac? Why are you cutting gluten out of your diet. And that level of judgment that we get from making food choices for ourselves is so unnecessary to me. But what they’re really saying is, you don’t have the right to not eat gluten, if you don’t have celiac disease, you don’t have to be sick enough to make a food choice for yourself, “you should eat gluten.” You can make one whenever you want, because you’re the expert of your own body, and you’re the master of your body. So don’t let someone else in that one moment, dictate how sick you’re going to be for the next few days. And it’s freaking hard, and I freaking know it. But it is very worth it for you to put your health before what someone else’s perception is of you. I know it’s easier said than done.
What to do if you develop food fears or anxiety about if you should eat gluten
So I’m giving you all these tips for you to be able to do that too. So again, I’ll just recap the elimination diet part of the conversation too, which is that elimination diets can be helpful, in some instances for short periods of time. And then reintroduction needs to happen. And I really recommend if you’re doing any sort of elimination diet, doing that with a practitioner, coach, dietician, nutrition coach, some sort of coach to make sure that you’re not developing new food fears.
And the reason by the way that we develop those food fears, because when we’re getting better at the same time or eliminating foods, we start to associate those foods as having caused the illness, I need to hammer this point into the food itself is most likely not causing the illness. In that moment, the illness may exist for a variety of different reasons that are extremely complex and very long term. The food may be aggravating the issue. I would say in a very small amount of people food is the cause of illness.
Again, if you have something like celiac disease, yes, eating gluten is a very specific thing that is causing illness in you. But doing an elimination of gluten won’t be enough to heal that gut lining after anyway. So again, when approaching an elimination diet, it’s a short period of time done with a practitioner, noticing how you feel the whole time you’re doing an elimination diet and then you have to repair the damage that that food may have temporarily caused, or that has been accumulated in your body so that just cleaning out foods will never fix a foundational health issue. It will never fix a foundational health issue. You still have to work on what’s going on under the hood after that.
If you choose to not eat gluten and you feel better I’m so freakin happy for you if you choose to eat gluten because it doesn’t seem to impact you and your health is in a perfect condition I am freaking happy for you to thank you for listening to this episode of quiet the diet if you love this episode, please subscribe, send it to a friend let them know they can choose to or not choose eat gluten they can choose to go on elimination diet or not. And I’ll see you on the next episode. Thank you so much for tuning in to the quiet the diet podcast if you found any of this information relevant Are you related to it? Please feel free to share the podcast it would mean the world to us. Also remember to subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes. And you can follow us on Instagram at quiet the diet pod. We’ll put the link in the show notes after each episode. Thank you again for listening and I can’t wait to see you in the next episode.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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