Hi, there. Welcome to gfe! My name is Shirley Braden. I have set up this blog to share information with the gluten intolerance/celiac support group I lead and, hopefully, also with anyone else out there who might be interested. Perhaps you are already gluten free or have an interest in the effects of gluten. Do you have unresolved health problems? The list of symptoms related to gluten issues from gluten sensitivity to celiac disease is a lengthy one—full of surprises. No two people will have exactly the same set of symptoms and no two websites that cover these topics will list exactly the same symptoms. Most people with gluten issues have been diagnosed with other problems or told “that’s just your body; everybody’s body is different.” While everyone’s body IS different, there are lots of symptoms that are not normal for our bodies and if they are caused by gluten, removing gluten can often completely resolve the issues. Gluten is wheat, rye, and barley, and other ingredients/food items like oats due to cross contamination. (Much more will be shared in later posts on foods to avoid.) I believe that one can eat gluten free easily, hence my blog’s name, gfe. How can that be you ask? Almost everyone says eating gluten free is hard, the diet is costly, gluten free food tastes terrible, and so forth. The truth is that most REAL food IS naturally gluten free … meat, seafood, fruit, and vegetables … and most dairy is gluten free. Naturally gluten free foods are ones that you’ve been enjoying all your life without realizing they were gluten free. However, the “Western” or Standard American Diet (SAD) has become almost entirely processed foods. Many processed foods contain gluten. If you want or need to go gluten free, I ask you to change your mindset and consider eating real food for the most part.

I have been gluten free since June 2003. It bothers me how living gluten free is constantly portrayed as a nightmare and an impossible thing to do. The gluten-free diet is also portrayed as very costly and inherently carbohydrate intensive. It does not have to be. It does require a different mindset as again the Western diet or SAD that we, as Americans, consume is laden with gluten. Now don’t get me wrong … I was most definitely overwhelmed when I received the diagnosis of gluten intolerance. However, after a lifetime of illnesses/symptoms, and even surgeries as a result of gluten issues, I was so incredibly relieved to find out there was a real cause. It wasn’t just me being a hypochondriac, a slug, a misanthrope, or someone who needed “counseling to accept my medical problems” as one doctor told me. I am grateful to that doctor today because my anger at her assessment drove me to find a better doctor–the one who put me on the right path finally.

I will forever refer to the doctor who diagnosed me as gluten intolerant as “miracle doc.” After a lifetime of ill health, to be given this news with an expectation of complete recovery WAS a miracle! There was an actual, singular physical cause for my issues. I could not believe it. My brain was in warp drive on the hour and a half trip home from the doctor’s office. Her words played back with some of the symptoms I’d had that were caused by gluten: diarrhea, constipation, endometriosis, frequent tonsillitis, ear infections, headaches, depression, and anemia. I thought about so many other symptoms and illnesses and how they’d played out time and time again over the years. Suddenly, everything I’d been through made sense, perfect sense. And, it was such a relief to have answers.

From those answers, I moved into a phase of questions, such as: are any of my favorite foods gluten free? can I eat mainstream products without a fear of cross contamination? can I live without the cereals I crave? will I ever be able to eat comfortably in a restaurant again? will my joint pain go away? will I be able to visit the restroom like a “normal” person?

And, then slowly, but surely, I entered the phase of answers and realized that often the answers were positive ones, YES answers, if you will. YES, many, many of my favorite foods are gluten free; YES, there are some mainstream products you can eat without a fear of cross contamination; YES, you can live without those cereals and you will no longer crave them; YES, you can often eat comfortably in a restaurant once you are educated and are willing to educate when the restaurant staff is not; YES, the joint pain goes away!!; and YES, you can go to the restroom like a “normal” person—the restroom is no longer the room you live in! LOL and Hallelujah! Who knew that life could be so good?

Those were the questions and answers for me. Would you care to share your questions and answers? I hope you’ll become a reader and a commenter here at gfe and do just that. Or if you are just pondering the gluten-free diet and whether you have celiac or gluten intolerance, perhaps you’d just like to share your questions. With the help of my readers, I’ll offer some possible answers. About 97% of those with celiac remain undiagnosed. Even more are suffering with issues from gluten sensitivity to gluten intolerance. Whatever the name or label, the symptoms and problems are real ones. So we need all the help we can get in pointing folks in the right direction to a proper diagnosis and an easy path to wellness. All of those with gluten issues have their own stories. Often it is by hearing other’s stories, and seeing a resemblance to one’s own, that the light bulb goes on. I look forward to your stories, your questions, and your answers while I share my own, as well as recipes, tips for being gfe, articles, and discussions.

Finally, even if you have no need to be gluten free, the recipes and cooking tips shared here are ones you’ll most likely want to try on your own. I believe in simple, tasty foods and recipes that are enjoyable for all.

Not just gf, but gfe!

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