I’m not sure why but this week in particular several celiacs have talked about cheating whether that be on social media or in person. One of my friends was in about shock that after all this time, that I don’t ever have cheat days. Clearly they still don’t understand what it means to have celiac disease so these conversations prompted today’s post.
So here are my best tips regarding celiac disease and cheating.
Tip #1: Don’t cheat!
This is not a diet, this is not about trying to be eat right a few days a week and then it’s okay to fall off the wagon once a week, on special occasions, or holidays. Celiac disease is a LIFELONG autoimmune disease, not a diet. Lifelong as in for the rest of your life, I/we cannot eat gluten. So there are NO cheat days EVER!!!! NO EXCEPTIONS!!!
Tip #2: Don’t cheat
Of course food tempts me sometimes but no one bite or one meal is worth the damage that it does to my body. Again, unless you have an autoimmune disease I get that it is hard to wrap your brain around this fact but nothing good can come from cheating on your health. If you have celiac disease and you are cheating- clearly you do not value your health and your life. This truly has to change if you expect to get a handle on this disease and on your life long-term.
Dr. Aristo Vojdani, Immunologist (research scientist who study, analyze and/or treat disease process that involve the immune system) who’s research spans over forty years focuses on the role of environmental factors, such as toxic chemicals, infections and dietary proteins and peptides in complex diseases. Dr. Voijdani has as stated in numerous interviews and this quote can be found in my book, “If a patient is making antibodies to a substance and you can remove the substance from the environment, it will no longer make antibodies to the substance and to its own tissue. You can repair the barrier and the immune reactivity will slowly go away and full-blown autoimmune disease prevented. Detecting the triggers are key. Your body’s white blood cells will remember that foreign invader the moment you digest 1/1000 of a gram is all it takes to activate the memory cells and flip the switch for your immune system to protect you. This is why inadvertent exposure can lead to much more severe symptoms and may attack different tissues like the joints, thyroid, cerebellum, etc.”
So if 1/1000 of a gram is equivalent to a crumb can activate an immune response and severe symptoms, what do you think a whole meal will do?
Tip #3: Don’t cheat
It’s time for a reality check… If you are willingly glutening yourself maybe you just don’t understand how this can truly will harm your health long-term. And, my guess is your pretty new at this and are still struggling with your diagnosis and think you can play around with just a little, here and there. The truth is you cannot. The truth is this is disease takes time to understand. The truth is this disease takes patience with yourself and there is a learning curve. The truth is it’s hard learning to eat right for your health. The truth is going out to your old favorite restaurants may not be possible anymore if they can not be accommodating. The truth is it is going to take some time to learn to shop differently. The truth is you are going to have to learn to become a better cook and baker. The truth is you are going to have to learn to speak up. The truth is you are going to have to learn to value and protect yourself every single day.
The better off you do and the longer you go removing gluten from your diet, unfortunately the more severe your symptoms often become because your body is attempting to heal and wham one crumb will do damage. One crumb can send you to the bathroom, one crumb can lead to horrible pain. One crumb can lead to skin problems. One crumb can lead to neurological issues that don’t show up right away and so much more.
Tip #4: Don’t cheat
Do you know that patients with celiac disease who had long-term persistent intestine damage (identified with repeat biopsy) had a higher risk of lymphoma than patients whose intestines healed, according to Columbia University Medical Center article from August 2013.
Is that one bite once in a while worth your body not healing and you getting lymphoma too?
Tip #5: Don’t cheat and if you do cheat stop posting about it.
There is no other way to really say this but, not only are you harming yourself you are harming everyone who has celiac disease. Celiac disease is one of the most misunderstood diseases out there. No one understands this disease unless you have to live with it. And every time a person proudly or not so proudly states on social media that you have celiac disease and you are cheating, you continue to foster the discussion that, this is not a real disease, condition, issue or problem.
Most people don’t understand the risks, most people don’t understand the pain, most people have no clue how depilating this disease can be, most people don’t associate a host of other medical issues to gluten. Yet this disease is the butt of many jokes and your pictures and comments continue to facilitate that. So please, I’m implore you, learn to value yourself, learn to value your disease and learn to value all the other celiacs out there struggling just like you.
Now I realize that this post has been about celiacs and cheating but what about those who know they are gluten sensitive? My answer is still the same and here is why. If you know that you feel better and you do better then why would you knowingly harm your body? Your body is talking to you, your body is sending you signals. These signals are enough for you to recognize that you do not feel well after you eat gluten containing foods, but are you certain that you are hearing all your body’s signals? It is not always stomach issues that comes with this it can also be neurological, thyroid, joint pain, reproductive challenges, anemia, depression and sooooo much more.
In addition, I realize this is a bit controversial to say but are you 1000% certain that you do not have celiac disease? Most testing that is done around celiac disease is inconclusive and sometimes just plain wrong if the doctor does not order the correct series of tests and knows what to look for. If your body is telling you that it is not doing well when you eat gluten, maybe it’s time you pay better attention to it. Unfortunately it often takes decades, tons of different doctors visits and even a few mis-diagnosis before you finally get a diagnosis of celiac disease. The choice is yours, really.