My friend emailed this week to say she has a rash on her arms and thinks it may be related to gluten (she was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity last year). She said "I never got a rash from eating gluten in the past, but at this point I am not ruling anything out."
If you suspect a gluten sensitivity here are the simple steps to figure it out:
1. Figure out what the heck foods contain gluten
What is gluten anyway? It's the hard-to-digest protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt. Gluten makes your bagels nice and fluffy, and makes your pizza doughy and delicious.
Non-Gluten Grains (You can eat these!):
Brown rice, wild rice, pure buckwheat noodles, millet, quinoa. Gluten-free breads, pasta and cereals are fine. Certified gluten-free oats are fine.
Gluten Grains (Don't eat these!):
Wheat, barley, rye, spelt, bran, farina, kamut, couscous
2. Cut out gluten for 2 weeks
If you cut out gluten for 2 weeks, you'll have a very good indicator if you're sensitive to gluten. You can follow this eating plan. You'll see recipes on the website too.
Don't let yourself get caught up in minutia. I see this all the time. People read that there's gluten in lipstick and ketchup and get overwhelmed so they give up before they begin.
Focus on skipping the wheat and you'll be good. This means skipping bread, bagels, pasta, cookies, pizza.
3. Re-introduce gluten
I find that most people feel better when they cut out gluten for the 2 weeks. They have more energy, better digestion, skin clears up. But after your 2 week trial, eat some bread. Then wait a day or 2 and observe if you have a reaction.
Two common reactions: getting super tired immediately and wanting to crawl into bed, and having your stomach tied up in painful knots. Sounds fun, right? But this is useful information from your body.
4. Listen to your instincts
You are the expert on your body! In my nutrition work with patients, I often take then off gluten, dairy and sugar for 2 weeks in the beginning. They feel much better, for example someone with IBS might have their symptoms disappear. Then I ask, "What do you think made the difference?" And they are always able to identify which (gluten, dairy or sugar) is the biggest problem for them. Tap into your inner knowing and let it guide you.
5. Proceed with less gluten in your life!
Regardless of your results, I recommend proceeding with less gluten in your life. The problem with wheat is that it's inflammatory, can trigger an immune reaction, spikes your blood sugar, and is an appetite stimulant.
Modern wheat has been modified over the past 50 years for higher crop yields. This is why we're hearing about issues with wheat more and more.
But how will you survive?
Eat lots of salads, soups, chicken, fish, beans, fruit, nuts, and you will be good! Staying away from processed crap will make it much easier, which you should be doing anyway!
- The book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. This book got my mom, dad, brother-in-law and many patients off wheat, it's a fun read.
- Recipes on www.elanaspantry.com. I love her Paleo Bread, Blueberry Muffins, and Power Bars. She uses lots of almond flour which you can get at Trader Joe's or Nuts.com. I've never made an Elana recipe that didn't turn out delicious and they're pretty simple too!
- This Gluten Q&A blog post by Dr. Lipman.
Good luck and please let me know how it goes!