Many people have voluntarily switched to a gluten-free diet for a variety of reasons and are claiming that it makes them feel better and healthier, especially when it comes to controlling problems like weight gain, chronic fatigue, depression, and headaches. Regardless, such claims have not been proven and this has led many to believe that being free of gluten is a dietary preference and not something people have to go on because of a serious medical condition.
However, certain groups of people have no other choice than to stop consuming foods and products that contain this group of proteins, for example, people with gluten intolerance or sensitivity cannot ingest it, because it leads to a series of symptoms such as stomach damage, cramping, nausea, and more. Perhaps the most serious condition, known as Celiac Disease, is another reason certain individuals have to be extremely careful about what they eat and drink. So here are some things to know about the illness and how you can enjoy dining out without having to worry.
What Is It?
It is a lifelong condition that affects the digestive system, especially the small intestine, and is triggered when one ingests foods that have gluten in them. Even the smallest amounts of this protein group can cause the immune system to attack and damage the small intestine, causing both inflammation and a series of uncomfortable, often painful symptoms, that not only occur in the gut but can affect other parts of the body too. Unfortunately, there is no cure or medical treatment for the illness, so a carefully planned diet and proper care are the only ways to control the disease.
What are the Symptoms?
One of the main reasons the illness is so hard to diagnose is because it has over 300 symptoms which greatly vary in form and severity. Besides abdominal pain one might experience, it can also cause nausea, headaches, weakness, joint pain, skin rashes, osteoporosis, and less obvious ones such as anxiety, depression, infertility, chronic fatigue, malnutrition, and many others. Some individuals do not even experience any external symptoms, even though their stomach is still getting damaged. Due to this, many people with the condition are completely unaware that they suffer from it and fail to seek help from a medical professional.
What Foods are Off-Limit?
Products such as wheat, barley, and rye should be avoided at all costs, as well as ones that contain wheat. Beer, soy sauce, crackers, deep-fried foods, cereals, baked goods, and the like should also be excluded from one’s diet because they still might contain gluten, even if they are wheat-free. Grains such as rice, cornmeal, and buckwheat are fine to consume, and foods like beans, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat, nuts, and the like are all gluten-free naturally.
How to Know If One’s Suffers from the Condition?
It is a hereditary illness and can occur at any age. One obvious way to discover it is by visiting a doctor’s office for a check-up, but have in mind that it is very hard to diagnose it due to its numerous, highly variable symptoms.
A better, easier, and more convenient way would be taking an at-home blood test. Ones like imaware™ allow you to complete it in 5 minutes, will provide a highly accurate and reliable test, and an easily understandable report, so you can either get diagnosed and start taking better care of your health or you can make sure that you do not have it, so you know that your symptoms are caused by something else. Even if you are feeling completely fine, you can take the test for peace of mind, since it also displays the likeliness of having this condition.
What to Do When Dining Out?
1. Do Your Research
Now, there are so many restaurants that offer dishes without gluten and usually, you can easily find them online. Ones that have a separate gluten-free menu might be even better because the staff usually receives proper training at most such places, so they will know all about it, as well as how to avoid cross-contamination. Certain websites even create lists with locations and eateries near you that offer dishes without these types of proteins.
2. Call in Advance
If you are planning to dine out, one of the best things you can do is call in advance and ask to speak with a manager or chef if possible. See if they are familiar with how to prepare foods without gluten, so you will not waste time going to a place where you will not be able to eat.
3. Stay Alert
You can save yourself a lot of trouble by paying close attention to what is placed in front of you. Many times, particularly if the place is very busy, the server might pick up the wrong plate. Sometimes, garnishes or sauces you have not ordered are included in your meal, so be sure to ask what it contains before consuming it. Do not hesitate to ask questions about dishes, the marinade, gravies, and the like, especially if you are hypersensitive to gluten.
4. Be Assertive But Courteous
You should not expect your server to know about the illness, so it is best to let them know about it and just how severe your reaction can be. Be polite and explain what you can and cannot eat and never be afraid to send something back if you notice any contaminants since even a few crumbs of bread can trigger serious symptoms.
5. Avoid the Busiest Hours of the Day
During peak hours, servers are more likely to make a mistake since they have to serve a lot of people. It is also less likely they will have more time to listen to your explanation or answer your questions, so going during off-peak hours might be a better choice.
6. Steer Clear of Fried Foods
Since they are usually coated in bread crumbs, such meals can trigger your condition. This is why it is always wiser to choose grilled foods or if you really want to eat something fried, make sure that the eatery has a separate station for preparing gluten-free dishes.
Luckily, today there are many more options when it comes to dining away from home, even when you are unable to have meals with gluten. Always be careful, do your research, and do not hesitate to ask questions, so that you can enjoy a nice restaurant meal safely and without worry.