Things I’ve Learned (aka GFCF Basics)

June 2, 2008 at 12:44 pm (*) ()

In the short time (3-4 weeks?) that we have been gluten/casein free, I’ve learned so much.  So I thought I’d share.  And I’ll start with the basics.

  1. Gluten is not just in wheat.  It is found in rye, barley, and triticale.  The general consensus is that oats are included as well.  Oats do not inherently contain gluten, but are typically grown in the same soil, and can therefore cause problems for those who are sensitive or intolerant.
  2. Wheat has many names: durum, graham, kamut, semolina, and spelt, among others.
  3. Gluten is hidden in nearly everything processed.  So that means I have to check every ketchup bottle, every can of beans, orange juice with added calcium (what is the source of the calcium hydroxide or malic acid???), chicken breasts (trust me on this one!), vinegar (and check when a product contains vinegar), etc.  Raisins can be coated with flour to prevent clumping.  Some packaging is coated with flour to prevent sticking.  It’s everywhere.
  4. People with gluten intolerance/sensitivity are everywhere.  In fact, celiac disease (where gluten actually damages the intestine) is severely under diagnosed.  A low estimate is that 1 in 133 people have celiac disease.  A high estimate is 1 in 10.  Either way, that’s a lot of people!  Jarid read that in Italy, it is mandatory to be tested for celiac disease before a child enters kindergarten.  He also read that in some schools in L.A., they have banned parents from bringing in foods (i.e., cupcakes, cakes, etc..) that contain gluten because the teachers were complaining about kids’ behavior after eating that kind of stuff.  I will try to find the actual stories for reference.
  5. Sensitivities and intolerances (which are different than allergies) can manifest themselves in many different ways.  Here is a list of diseases that are probably associated with celiac disease.  You’d be surprised.  ADD/ADHD, Crohn’s Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Irritable Bowel Disease…just to name a few.  My take is that these ailments may be exacerbated by gluten (and maybe casein).  For some people, it is manifested as physical ailments like upset stomach, diarrhea, etc.  For some, including children, it is manifested as mental/behavior problems.
  6. Celiac disease is rarely disputed.  Intolerances and sensitivities are, especially when in reference to behaviors.
  7. To put it very simply, celiac disease and gluten/casein sensitivities and intolerances are an inability to break down those proteins.  Those proteins wreak havoc on the gut, get into the bloodstream, and consequently wreak havoc on the brain and the nervous system.
  8. To grossly oversimplify it, if those proteins are not broken down properly, they take on opium-like properties when they reach the brain.  You know, opium…..poppy seeds….yep.  So you get this: a person on drugs.  Remember, this is a gross oversimplification.
  9. Ultimately, it’s a metabolism problem or an auto-immune problem.  It involves enzymes, or their lack thereof!
  10. There will continue to be more research/education/information about this family of diseases and disorders…and how it all affects the body.
  11. Even though we are doing this for Benjamin, I’ve been doing it with him and I feel fabulous!  To be quite honest, when I’m not eating wheat/gluten or dairy, I don’t feel bloated!  When I’ve cheated, I feel like garbage and can barely button my pants!  Not only that, but my mind is clearer and I am able to adapt easier and handle stress better. 

Okay, so that’s the stuff I’ve learned about gluten/casein.  Now here’s the stuff I’ve learned as we adapt to this diet.

  1. If you are going to do it and want to see results, you must commit to it and do it 100% 110%.
  2. You will spend hours in the kitchen.  So you’d better learn to love it.
  3. You will have disasters in the kitchen.
  4. You will spend hours on the internet trying to find new recipes.
  5. You will spend WAY more time reading labels.
  6. You will have to try new foods and ingredients.
  7. It won’t kill you to try something new. 🙂
  8. It helps to make extras to freeze.
  9. You have to read labels.
  10. In the beginning, you will have to give up variety in your meals.  Find something that works and stick with it while you work on the next thing.
  11. Specially made GFCF foods are expensive and may be just as bad as other processed foods, even with out gluten and casein.
  12. Eating out, in the beginning, is nearly impossible.  But honestly, I am thanking God for Chipotle.  I love Chipotle anyway, but that is one place I can take Benjamin and (for now) order a gluten/casein free meal!
  13. It’s not that expensive if you realize that you don’t need all the processed foods or convenience foods.  For example, you don’t really need to buy special crackers as a snack.  Either make your own or give your child an apple.  Know what I mean?
  14. Learn to read labels.  Did I mention that yet?
  15. If you don’t know what it is, go without.  When in doubt, don’t.
  16. The best way to avoid an “infringement” is to make your own food.  From scratch.

That’s all I have for now.  I’m sure I’ll add to it many, many times.  Feel free to ask questions or comment!



  1. carrie said,

    This is a great list!! Nice post about what’s it like at first being gluten free! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Brandi said,

    Wow, you deserve a huge pat on the back for all this research!!! Thanks for sharing.

    While I enjoy being healthier maybe than the average person, I don’t plan on giving up all those foods you mentioned!!!! At least not any time soon.

  3. Wardeh said,

    Staci, what a great summary and great tips! You’ve done so much research. Good work!

    Love, Wardeh

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