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Breaking Up With Gluten, Again

breaking-glutenLast fall I under went IgG and IgE blood testing for food allergies with a functional primary care doctor. Only a few foods that I rarely eat came back “positive” for being allergic. Surprisingly, the test was negative for antibodies to wheat. I assumed that being off wheat for almost three years had repaired my gluten sensitivity. So of course, our family was back on the wheat train.

We indulged in pasta, whole grains bread and the occasional wheat beer. My husband loved the return of gourmet pasta meals and that all American staple, pizza. So did I. Sadly, our rekindled love of gluten dishes quickly began to unravel. Within three weeks, our health changed.

First there was David’s uncharacteristic snoring at night. I kept poking him to roll over, but his snoring was not positional. Second, his nasal stuffiness was so severe that it turned him into a nocturnal mouth breather.

My response was more systemic as I became super allergic. First there were my morning sneezing fits that were loud enough to clear the room of our normally tolerant cats. Second, my throat itched non-stop and my eyes became red and runny. Third, the skin on my face and neck became blotchy and irritated. Fourth, my weight popped up 5 pounds!

I complained to David that my blood test for wheat came back negative but I still seemed allergic to gluten. He quickly reminded me of an old pearl from our medical training: treat the patient not the lab test. Our reconciliation with gluten proved to be a bust. We had no choice. As quick as we got on, our family was getting off the wheat train.

So I dumped the bagels, angel hair pasta and whole wheat bread. Four days sans wheat we were sleeping soundly and our allergy symptoms were gone!

I am convinced that anyone with hay fever type symptoms should try going gluten free for at least a week or longer. Yes, it’s challenging, but not impossible. The goal is to avoid foods that have durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina and spelt. You also have to be careful with grains such as oats which can be contaminated with wheat. A safe oat product you can find in most stores is Red Mills Gluten Free Oats. A very tasty but expensive substitute for baking flour is Cup4Cup. It is gluten free flour that can be found at Whole Foods or Williams Sonoma.

Pay attention to labels when looking at cereals. We love Kind granola, which is gluten free. Other gluten containing food to avoid includes barely, malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar and rye.

Spring will be here before you know it. If you have a history of hay fever, now might be the time to stop wheat and gluten products for trial test. Food and airborne allergies are additive, if you remove a major trigger like wheat, often the other airborne allergens react less with your body.

One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for all of the information on this post – and, the gem – “treat the patient – not the lab test”.

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