Going gluten-free has evolved into a lifestyle subculture over the past few years, and with so many commercial substitutes now available, it’s easier than ever to embrace the buzz. But for many, gluten sensitivity isn’t a trend; it’s a serious problem with wide-reaching physical, mental, and emotional consequences. An even bigger issue, however, is that the symptoms don’t always communicate a clear message about what’s actually wrong. So how do you know if you’re gluten intolerant? And what are the next steps you should take? 

Wellness expert and author of Eating Clean, Amie Valpone, spent a decade navigating her way from chronic illness to holistic wellness (see her full range of health solutions here!) and is now on a mission to help others achieve the same. Below are her top five lived-and-learned tips for identifying and dealing with gluten intolerance…

It seems like everywhere I turn, I meet people who have reactions after eating gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley and rye). After struggling with chronic illness for ten years, I took matters into my own hands and realized gluten was a huge contributing factor to the underlying inflammation in my body. So, the first thing I did was to remove gluten from my lifestyle.

Why is gluten such a problem for so many people? Because gluten simulates our immune system and the effects can last for three to six months in our bodies – even though our symptoms may appear mild.

After seeing over 500 doctors the last 10 years and trying to figure out how to heal my body, I learned how to get my body working for me, instead of against me. I want to show you how amazing you can feel by removing inflammatory foods and healing your gut. Once you see how amazing life feels this way, you’ll never go back to eating gluten again!

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance: Bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, PCOS, PMS, infertility and other hormone imbalances, migraines, inflammation or pain in your knees, hips and fingers, anxiety, depression, mood swings, ADD, chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I suggest working with a functional medicine doctor to address the underlying issue in your body. What you may find shocking is that many people who suffer from gluten intolerance actually don’t have any digestive symptoms at all.

Here are five things you can do if you have gluten intolerance. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start by shifting your lifestyle a little bit each day to get yourself acclimated to living without gluten and other inflammatory foods. There’s no deprivation here; you can live a delicious life without gluten and I’m living proof.

The first 5 steps: how to deal with gluten intolerance

Get a Blood Test. There are numerous blood tests to test for gluten sensitivity, but most Western medicine doctors don’t use this type of testing. Therefore, you have to go beyond solely testing for celiac disease. A functional/integrative medicine doctor can test for gluten sensitivity and will work with you on the best ways to address your immune system.

Do the 21-Day Elimination Diet. My new book, Eating Clean, walks you through a 21-day plan to help you remove the inflammatory foods that are wreaking havoc on your body. Plus it includes over 200 detox-approved recipes free of gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, refined sugar, peanuts and other inflammatory foods – so you can feel good about indulging in everything from pizza to tacos to ice cream without the guilt and the gluten.

Eat Gluten-Free. Eating gluten-free is key for gluten-intolerance. Start by adding in more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins (beans, legumes), healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil) and gluten-free whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, teff, sorghum, wild rice, brown rice and black rice). There is so much you can still eat when you’re not eating gluten.

Cut out Processed Gluten-Free Foods. Those gluten-free foods you see in boxes on the store shelf are processed and full of junk! Don’t get me wrong, there are some packaged foods that are healthy, such as whole grains. But for the most part, gluten-free cookies, cupcakes, desserts, cereals, snack bars, etc. are full of sugar and refined white flour, which are highly inflammatory and won’t do anything but create inflammation in your gut. Trust me. Stick to eating whole, one-ingredient foods, such as fruits, veggies, gluten-free whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Want an easy tip? Steer clear of the food store and get over to your local farmers market!

Work with a Functional Medicine Doctor to Heal Your Gut. Healing your gut is the name of the game when you have gluten intolerance. From all those years of eating gluten and damaging the lining of your gut, you’ll need to start working with a functional medicine doctor to repair the damage that gluten has caused to your gut. Many times, other infections such as parasites, candida, bacterial overgrowth and other bacterial imbalances need to be corrected and addressed. This took me many years to realize and I went from doctor to doctor trying to address gut issues but you can get on the path to healing by working with a functional MD. Healing your gut is a long-term commitment and it’s a lifestyle change – not an overnight quick fix. It can be done, so don’t get discouraged.

The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. 
All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program. 

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