How to Live a Wheat-Free Lifestyle

Monday, August 25, 2008 by: Jennifer McKinley
Tags: wheat, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Living with a food allergy makes living in our fast paced world difficult, especially for a child. It is reported by The UCB Institute of Allergy that 13% of the population in Europe alone suffers from food allergies. The numbers for the United States are strikingly similar.

The food allergy that has presented itself in our household is a wheat allergy. At one week of age, I noticed a scaly red patch on my middle child's back. It was pink and raised. I put lotion on the patch and went on. As he grew, the rash on his back dissipated and then erupted on his legs and arms. It was eczema. For a long time before we began our holistic/organic lifestyle, we did all of the wrong things for him. We fed him the wrong things. We bathed him with the wrong soap. We thought that it was just part of who he was not realizing that there was a bigger problem looming.

One afternoon while scouring the internet for causes of eczema and remedies for the condition, I stumbled upon information that expressed the opinion that most eczema cases were caused by an allergy to wheat or dairy products. I immediately took this information to my husband and we began an elimination diet with our son. First we tried to remove all dairy from his diet. His condition did not improve.

Wheat was next on our list. This task was daunting. Every box we looked at, every can, every bag, every snack, everything contained wheat. We took his diet down to the basics: fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, no bread. Within days, his legs were no longer inflamed and actually seemed to be clearing up. We had discovered our culprit.

Knowing the Difference

There are three issues that must be understood when it comes to wheat allergies or intolerances:

1. Wheat allergy: According to (www.foodintol.com) an allergy causes a severe sudden onset of symptoms related to most true allergies including coughing, asthma, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, rashes, etc. This is an auto-immune response from the body.

2. Wheat intolerance: This also involves the immune system but has a slower onset and its true definition is that the body has trouble digesting wheat. This can cause skin rashes, headaches, heart palpitations, arthritis, tiredness or lethargy, watery or itchy eyes, and Psoriasis to name a few.

3. Celiac Disease: Believed to be one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in America, this disease is classified as a genetic disorder. It is defined as a digestive intolerance to gluten found in wheat, rye, oats, and other grains.

If you suspect that you or your child has an intolerance or allergy to wheat or gluten, it is important that you immediately begin an Elimination or Detection Diet to determine what could be causing the symptoms.

Hidden Places You May Find Wheat/Gluten

You may think some of the places wheat will show up in a diet are clear. Bread, for example, should obviously be avoided. There are wheat-free varieties that are made with white or brown rice. But some things that may slip your mind while walking the isles of a grocery store are things like pasta, pretzels, waffles, buns, pancakes, crackers, and any product with MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Before beginning our healthier lifestyle, we realized quickly that there were things our son could not eat any longer but found it odd that he could eat others. Pringles Chips contained wheat, but Lay's Stacks did not. Nacho Cheese Doritos contained wheat (as do most items with processed cheese powder) but Cool Ranch Doritos did not. Generic brand Rice Krispy Treats contained wheat, but Kellogg's Rice Krispy Treats do not.

We no longer eat a diet that contains these sorts of foods in our household, but there are still surprising places that you may find wheat/gluten that could cause your allergy to flare if you are not aware that you are ingesting them:

* Worcestershire sauce should be avoided if you have a wheat allergy/intolerance

* Root beer of any brand

* No plastic utensils, bowls, or strainers should be contaminated with items containing wheat/gluten and then used for the person with the allergy/intolerance. Plastic retains wheat protein and can contaminate the food for the allergy sufferer.

* No stoneware should be used for those with these conditions. It also retains wheat protein and can contaminate the food if used for the allergy sufferer.

* Rice pasta or quinoa can be used in place of regular pasta made with egg and flour.

* Play-doh is a wheat containing product. This may not be an issue if you have a child that is old enough to resist putting the substance in their mouth but could still cause issues if the child fails to wash their hands and then puts their hands in their mouth. This could cause their allergy/intolerance to flare.

* Keeping your cooking space clean is an imperative. Forgetting to thoroughly clean the work space and then accidentally laying the sufferer's food onto an unclean work space can cause cross contamination.

* Soy sauce should be avoided if you have a wheat allergy/intolerance

* Licorice Candy should be avoided.

* Gravy mixes of any kind should be avoided.

* Instant chocolate drink mixes should be avoided.

Cautions and Labels to Check

Although the following list of foods may contain wheat, they also may not, depending on the brand that is purchased.

The caution here is to check every label. You cannot trust that, because you do not think there should not be wheat in it, there isn't. It can sneak up on you and be in places that you would never expect. Be sure to check labels on the following items:

* baking powder

* vitamins

* yogurt

* spices and seasonings

* ice cream

* gum base

* chicken and beef broth

* corn starch

* curry powder

* French fries (especially the seasoned variety)

* tortillas

* candy

It Isn't a Life Sentence

Although living wheat free is difficult at best, it is not a death sentence. There are actually very flavorful recipes that are wheat-free. My 5 year old can tell you exactly what he is and is not supposed to have. We have been able to find alternatives to almost all of his favorite "kid foods". He still eats fruits and vegetables and meat the majority of the time, but occasionally he wants something like macaroni and cheese, pizza, cookies, or pancakes. Thanks to our local Wild Oats/Whole Foods Market, we have found rice flour pizza crust, gluten/wheat free sauce, rice pasta macaroni and cheese, and even cereal that he adores that is just for him. We are by no means perfect and sometimes we miss something. He will have a flare up on his arms and legs and we examine his diet for the last two days to see what we missed. Sometimes our slip up is easily identified, sometimes it's not.

Below are a few websites that have fantastic wheat-free recipes that our family has grown to love. I must admit that one of our favorites is zucchini muffins. We actually like the wheat-free version better than the regular one.

If you are concerned that you have a wheat allergy or intolerance, try the elimination diet or see your doctor. Be cautious when visiting your doctor. The only option offered to my son was steroid shots or steroid creams. We chose to pass on those options and adjust his diet to fit his needs instead.

Like I tell my son, with all the concern over grains, eating all of those rice and vegetables, you are probably going to be healthier than the rest of us.

As healthy as he is, he has humbly requested that if anyone makes or knows a company that makes wheat-free toaster pastries, please contact us immediately. I have been asked to purchase a one year supply. And if I can't find them, he's asking Santa.

Recipe Links:











About the author

Jennifer McKinley is a wife, mother of five, home-schooler, and business owner. She has spent many years researching issues dealing with holistic and natural medicine and how different chemicals in our homes, foods, medications, and environments affect our health and quality of life. Her goal is to promote public awareness and knowledge regarding these issues. She has recently launched a hand made personal care product company promoting natural and chemical free skin care. Please visit www.urbannaturals.net

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