Why You Should Take a Gluten Challenge + 4 Tips for Going Gluten Free

You probably have a friend or two who are on a gluten-free diet. Maybe you’ve heard of Celiac Disease, and know that for those who have been diagnosed, it can be deadly to consume gluten. But what about gluten sensitivity? Is it a real thing or just another food trend?

Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity is in fact an established medical diagnosis. Functional medicine specialist, Dr. Mark Hyman states that gluten sensitivity is “actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract and more.” Unfortunately, many people who have it don’t realize it. The symptoms can be as subtle as occasional digestive upset, low energy, excess weight and feelings of bloat, or it can manifest in serious autoimmune diseases, chronic illness, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. If any of those sound familiar, it’s time to take a gluten challenge!

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in many grains, namely wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are becoming more prevalent. Celiac is one of the most undiagnosed diseases in the United States. If you struggle with frequent illness, low energy, stomach pains, depression, or just a general lousy feeling that no one has been able to diagnose for you, I encourage you to be tested for Celiac. It could change your life.

But even those not diagnosed with Celiac will find that they do better when they avoid gluten altogether. Gluten irritates and damages the intestinal lining, causes inflammation, and immune reactions. It is also a major cause of “leaky gut” - when the intestinal lining becomes permeable and allows large proteins to escape the gut and travel into the bloodstream, where they don’t belong.

What is a Gluten Challenge?

A gluten challenge is the easiest and most effective way to see if gluten is negatively affecting your mind and body. If you’ve been having trouble achieving your wellness goals, then try eliminating gluten from your diet for 1 month and see what happens. The top benefits that we have seen in countless clients are increased intake of nutrients (vegetables are way better for you than baked goods, after all!), weight loss, increased energy, better digestion, and improved immunity.

Here are tips to go gluten-free:

  1. Don’t substitute with gluten-free junk food! Many gluten-free foods on the supermarket shelves are filled with refined white flours, loads of sugar, and gums and stabilizers to make it act like products with wheat. Stick with whole, real food ingredients.
  2. Read labels. Many products contain wheat where you wouldn’t expect it, such as soy sauce, salad dressings, oatmeal and condiments. Again, stick with real food ingredients that you recognize, and take a look at this list of hidden sources of gluten.
  3. Quality counts. Remember that when you are eating animal protein, you’re eating what that animal ate as well. Factory farms feed animals GMO corn, soy, and often wheat-containing grains (not to mention the antibiotics and growth hormones.) Consume only sustainably-raised animals from small local farms, and you will go a long way towards improving your health as well as the health of the planet.
  4. Plan ahead. Plan meals for the week and buy staples at the grocery store. Snack on vegetables and nuts instead of baked goods or crackers. If you know you have a busy work week and won’t be able to meal plan, let alone cook, let Provenance set you up with the 3 Week Commit to Clean Challenge, where we’ll send you 3 weeks of gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free lunches, dinners, breakfast shakes and snacks Monday through Friday, with tips on how to eat out and at home on the weekends. Or order a flexible Organic Meal Plan with just the meals you need.

Be confident in your challenge - you are doing this to improve your life and feel better. You can do it! While life without gluten may seem daunting at first, after a month of gluten-free dining, you may feel so good you may never want to go back.