Gluten Free: The Popularity Contest
Do you really need to go gluten free for IBS or for other reasons?
Gluten Free grocery aisles and restaurant menus are popping up all over the United States and other countries.
If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not the only one. The gluten free advertisements you see around have surely driven a lot of business and money to these food companies.
On more than one occasion, I’ve met someone who was misinformed on what gluten is and what the benefits are of going gluten free.
Gluten free is not one of those weight loss diets and it’s not necessarily going to make your eating habits healthier or fix your IBS.
If you already know for a fact you have trouble with Gluten or can’t have it at all, to the right are some AMAZING gluten free brownies you don’t want to pass up.
While these brownies are gluten free, they’re addicting and so yummy!
Yes, brownies deserve to be at the beginning of every blog post.
Luckily, if you are going gluten free, there are plenty of delicious alternatives to your favorite gluten-filled foods.
What Is Gluten Anyway?
The Celiac Disease Foundation tells us “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.”
However, gluten is not always an obvious ingredient.
Gluten can also be found in beverages, candy, and plenty of other foods. Not going to lie, “food glue” sounds suspicious to me.
Gluten Sensitivity: Does It Exist?
Research will tell you no.
You either have an intolerance, or you don’t.
Some detailed information can be found on PBS.org.
PBS explains that the so-called sensitivity might be linked to specific carbohydrates, which can be cut out with a low FODMAP diet.
A lot of the FODMAP carbs can be found in breads, pastas, processed foods, etc.
This is why some people claim to have relief from an IBS gluten free diet. Just by cutting gluten, they’re avoiding a lot of these carbs that can cause a disruptive digestive tract.
The FODMAP carbs are naturally harder to digest by anyone. If you have IBS, this can become very obvious through symptoms.
So while many of us with IBS are not allergic to gluten, we can still be sensitive to it.
This is not an official gluten sensitivity, but rather, an IBS trigger, like many other foods that we would not consider a sensitivity or intolerance to us.
Gluten Free for IBS
Foods like breads, pastas and baked goods often contain gluten. These dense foods are harder to digest with IBS.
But as I mentioned above, gluten lurks in many other foods, beverages and even cosmetics.
Foods containing gluten may cause IBS symptoms, including constipation.
If you’re consuming these often, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to replace some of your foods with low FODMAP foods that may or may not be gluten free.
Very Well says “the gluten grains wheat, barley, and rye contain a type of FODMAP called fructans. Wheat, especially, is generally banned on the low-FODMAP diet, although some experts on the diet say you can eat it in small quantities”.
With any diet or lifestyle, balance is key here.
My Gluten Free Journey
For an entire year, I went gluten free in hopes that it would help my IBS symptoms (what a long year that was). This was such a daunting task, I had to give up many of my favorite foods while watching the people around me indulge in all the goodies I couldn’t have (especially doughnuts and pizza). But, I found that my IBS symptoms and flare ups were occurring less often than previously. The foods that I was consuming were often lower FODMAP foods, therefore my gluten free IBS diet helped me feel better overall.
These were the first foods I tried when I began my year-long diet of going gluten free for IBS in 2013 (I highly recommend the bagel chips, yummy!).
These foods in the picture above are not necessarily low FODMAP, but they’re gluten free and make a nice starting point.
While I missed certain gluten-filled foods, I found that there were plenty of great alternatives and the diet was not as difficult as I first imagined it to be.
The Bottom Line
If you suffer from IBS, and you don’t have Celiac disease, there’s no reason for you to go completely gluten free for IBS.
If you’re unsure, the first best step would be to talk to your doctor and be tested for Celiac Disease.
If you’re not Celiac, I highly recommend the low FODMAPs diet for IBS, which you can read about here.
Personally, I find that eating the high FODMAP foods (especially breads, muffins, cakes, and other heavier foods) in moderation is very helpful in controlling IBS symptoms.
I keep those pizzas and doughnuts to a minimum, no matter how enticing.