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WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are working on your weight or fitness, please -- join us! You can also click the  WHEE tag to view all diary posts.

I have written quite a bit on WHEE in the past about the gluten free diet:  it is getting a lot more press and media attention as more and more people are being tested for - and found that they suffer from - celiac disease, more accurately known as GLUTEN SENSITIVITY.

What is Gluten Sensitivity?  follow me over the fold to more delicious adventures in Gluten Free cooking and baking.

Gluten is the common term for two proteins commonly found in wheat: glutinen and gliadin.  One of these proteins is also found in barley and in rye, also in spelt and other wheat-related grains such as kamut.  Our ancestors did not cultivate wheat or seed grains, and there is no evidence that our paleolithic ancestors evolved to digest them.  This little fact of our biology and evolution gives a clue as to what is becoming an alarming symptom of the consequences of a diet dependent upon wheat: it isn't healthy for human beings.

But what does it do?  In a person who is gluten sensitive, which is a genetic predisposition that DOES run in families, these proteins cause enteropathy - a big word that means destruction of the villi of the intestinal tract.  Villi are the little thread-like brushes lining the intestinal walls which swoosh our digested food along so that the large intestine can absorb the vitamins, minerals, and other trace minerals and nutrients that keep us going.  If there are no villi there to swoosh things along, the food does not get absorbed, it ferments and decays in the large bowel, causing gas, diarrhea, symptoms similar to food poisoning, abdominal distention, rapid weight loss, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis (pouches that swell out from the intestines that sometimes rupture), hernias, colitis, and yes, BOWEL CANCER.

Scientists have been looking for a cause and a cure for that deadliest of illnesses - cancer - for most of the past hundred years, and while there are many risk factors, there are few actual causes.  Gluten proteins are one of them:  they cause direct destruction to the intestines which lead to the less-horrible diseases and symptoms for which we pop antacid tablets and Pepto Bismol - but the problem is NOT in the stomach.  It's in the intestines.

Other rare manifestation of this destruction is the dermatitis form of celiac disease - the intestinal damage may not be noticeable, and there may not be any overt evidence of indigestion, diarrhea, gas or gastroenteritis (at least not initially).  It causes itchy, painful, hard lesions on the elbows, arms, knees and legs, known as dermatitis herpetiformis.  I have the dermatitis form.

The reason why this is important to discuss in the context of WHEE is that for those who are gluten sensitive, the sensitivity can take the form of a passionate hunger for gluten-containing foods: breads, pastas, pastries, pizza, because the protein produces a narcotic-like effect.  Right before I took the gluten sensitivity elimination diet and survey in fall of 2005, I would struggle out of bed early on a Saturday morning to rush down to the Bakerei in Saarbruecken to catch the fresh rolls before it closed at 11 a.m.  Nothing else but a bomb or a fire would get me out of bed - but fresh rolls would.  And it was because of this narcotic quality gluten produces in those who are sensitive to it.

Like many others, I believed I suffered from a chronic overeating problem due to a lack of personal discipline.  Sure, I have discipline problems of many kinds, but the discipline to resist the lure of what was essentially a poisonous food attacking my intestines, was not something I could employ since I didn't know what it was.  But I found out.

It is now estimated that 1 in 6 Americans are gluten sensitive  - 16%.  I believe they will find that figure is much higher.  Recent media reports say that the incidence of diagnosis of celiac disease has tripled in the past 30 years.  Epidemic, or newly discovered cause of a problem that has been with us since the cultivation of wheat?

I didn't mean to get back into the details of Celiac Disease, what I meant to do was to share with you some of what I have learned to cook gluten-free.  If you have not tried gluten free food, if any of the symptoms or problems above sound familiar to you, it is worth trying a gluten free diet, at least for a short time, to rule it out.  

And if you do, remember you can always email me and go to my FLICKR photo blog for the most delicious recipes that I use every day and every week which are just as good as wheat, and will not touch a single little villa in your intestines.

Cheers!  Sorry I missed last week, I was away on a long-long delayed road trip to Canada, and busy with publishing a novel.

I'll try to be around more now that I'm on a regular work schedule once more!

And now for a few photos from my Flickr photo blog:

Here are the site addresses if you want to peruse my Flickr site:

My Baking collection is here:

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Bread

Gluten Free Oatmeal Bread

Gluten-Free White Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Gluten Free Cake with White Frosting

Gluten-Free Tomato Pizza (Vegetarian!)


Gluten-Free Buckwheat and Rice Flour Waffles

Gluten-Free Buckwheat and Rice Flour Waffles:

Gluten Free Idli (Rice Steamed Cake) with Marmalade

Gluten Free Idli

Gluten Free Dosa (Black Lentil and Rice Flour Pancake)

 Gluten Free Dosa (Black Lentil and Rice Flour Pancake)

Gluten Free Mongolian Dumplings

Gluten Free Mongolian Dumplings

A Baking Frenzy: Cornbread, Sorghum-Millet Bread and Carrot Cake

A Baking Frenzy -

Originally posted to louisev on Sun May 02, 2010 at 10:56 AM PDT.


Have you tried gluten free food?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Two quick things: (6+ / 0-)
    1. Wheat allergy is also a possibility. I have both wheat and barley allergies. And it is possible to both have celiac disease and wheat allergy at the same time!
    1. Most oats are contaminated with wheat in the U.S. by the way they're grown. If you do have a wheat sensitivity, make sure to buy wheat-free oats to make your oatmeal bread with.

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    by allergywoman on Sun May 02, 2010 at 11:02:12 AM PDT

  •  Sorry, three. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Oaktown Girl, ZenTrainer, Brimi

    Probably everyone has eaten some gluten-free foods. Rice is naturally gluten-free, as are most fruits and vegetables. :)

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    by allergywoman on Sun May 02, 2010 at 11:03:18 AM PDT

  •  How can I get to your Flickr Photo blog? (4+ / 0-)

    And are the recipies for the foods pictured included?  I was diagnosed with Celiac nearly 20 years ago.  I buy all my food.  Your's looks way better.  Thank you.

  •  I've been cooking Indian food for 20 years... (4+ / 0-)

    and there are great recipes out there. Here's one I developed based on a savory Gujarati steamed bread made of chickpea flour.

    "Calmer than you are Dude....calmer than you"

    by sula on Sun May 02, 2010 at 11:33:26 AM PDT

  •  thanks for this diary (4+ / 0-)

    my daughter is sensitive to gluten.  although she has not been tested for celiac disease, we went through a nightmare of testing for ulcers, gall bladder problems, etc. and our family doctor never even brought up celiac disease.  her symptoms were nausea and vomiting and she lost a lot of weight.  luckily, my older daughter who works at whole foods mentioned wheat allergies, so we just cut wheat out of her diet, and voila!  since we figured this out, we've embarked on a journey to find alternatives, and although she really misses bagels, we've found a lot of suitable replacements for a lot of her favorites.  even betty crocker has come out with a gluten free line of baked goods!

    A point in every direction is the same as no point at all.

    by oblios arrow on Sun May 02, 2010 at 11:35:10 AM PDT

  •  Those pictures look (4+ / 0-)

    delicious. I bet you don't even miss wheat any longer with great food like that.

    I used to wonder why somebody didn't do something, then I realized I am somebody.- unknown

    by Brimi on Sun May 02, 2010 at 11:35:44 AM PDT

  •  I have an aunt with celiac disease. (4+ / 0-)

    In the course of experimenting for her benefit (well, cooking is fun, too), I ran across "Cooking with Coconut Flour".  

    The recipes require a relatively large number of eggs, but they are very tasty.  If you like coconut.  My aunt says the German Chocolate Cake froze well - and lasted her something approximating forever.  I made a sheet cake for a family reunion and she took home the leftovers which, since practically anyone who brought anything provided a dessert, was rather more of the cake than either of us had anticipated.

  •  I have been strictly gluten-free for years (4+ / 0-)

    I only occasionally bake anymore. Mostly I cook naturally gluten-free foods. This week, however, I made a gluten-free chocolate pudding cake from a recipe I found on Salon, of all places. It was great.

    When I do bake I normally use a blend of 3 parts white rice flour and 1 part sweet rice flour, when I'm not trying to use up those bean flour blends people keep buying me.

    I too have never been tested. When I accidentally consume gluten, my symptoms come back. (Swelling, inflammation, joint pain, gum disease, canker sores, and quite a few others)

    Celiac is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks itself. One thing that should be noted is that there are doctors who feel that the neurological implications of of celiac are greater than any digestive damage that might be done. There are a great many symptoms of celiac which are often treated unsuccessfully with drugs in people who have undiagnosed celiac. This country lags far behind the rest of the world in recognition of the condition.

    If wanting the country to succeed is wrong, I don't want to be right.

    by Angela Quattrano on Sun May 02, 2010 at 12:05:09 PM PDT

    •  And of food allergy. (3+ / 0-)

      I had a friend who for years thought she had rheumatism. Her university recognized her as disabled. She'd spend a few days every month completely unable to function. Finally she went to a doctor who recognized her under-eye circles as a symptom of milk allergy.

      Sure thing, she cut out the milk and she was fine. No more breakdowns, no more of her body attacking itself.

      On Sara Palin: "That an Idiot." -- Keith Olbermann

      by allergywoman on Sun May 02, 2010 at 12:07:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the great diary.  I agree with you that most likely the rate of gluten sensitive people is higher than we think.

    When both my partner and I went gluten free we both lost most of the extra weight we needed to loose without much effort.  I completely cured my chronic heartburn as soon as I eliminated gluten.  Some of our friends have copied us as a way to loose weight and all report easily loosing significant weight. One friend lost 10 dress sizes in 9 months!

    I will check out your recipes.  The pictures look wonderful.  I enjoy learning how to cook gluten free.

    Thanks again!

  •  I have diverticultis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Oaktown Girl, allergywoman

    and can't eat any grain but rice.

    When I first got diagnosed I lost a bit of weight. 2 lbs a week steadily.

    This always happened at Passover too. Remove bread from me and I lose weight.

    Then I found a way to substitute rice cakes for bread and slowed to 1 lb a week in weight loss. (Darn!)

    I have much more weight to lose to get back to AMA guidelines so I'm really trying hard NOT to substitute anything for wheat and other grains.

    Eventually I will jones though and want some cupcakes so thanks for the rice flour tips!

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Sun May 02, 2010 at 12:22:42 PM PDT

  •  I and my husband are gluten sensitive. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Oaktown Girl

    He also cannot have any corn products or pork.  Sure has made a difference in our lives since we have been gluten free.  Thanks for all the recipes.  I have had to learn to cook differently.  It's been dificult but worth it.  Thankfully there are several restaurants which have gluten free food. And many stores carrying lots of products.  I have learn to make some great bagels.

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