People with coeliac disease are ever watchful with what they eat and what they buy from the grocery or pharmacy. Gluten protein is found in many foods and even in medications. Vigilance is key in dampening the effect of the disease, but when is vigilance too much? Are you getting too much information that you are living a sorely restricted life? Is your coeliac diet doing you any favor?
Debunking some myths
A gluten-free diet does not mean you have to cut the carbs. It is not simply leaving the bread out. Carbohydrate is not the issue. It is the protein gluten that is found in many grains that is making people sick. You can still eat a sandwich loaded with carbohydrates but with gluten-free bread.
A gluten-free diet does not mean it is coeliac safe. A small amount of gluten can already make one sick. Even kitchen utensils that touched through a wheat bread, for instance, can make you sick. Cross-contamination is an issue for many coeliac sufferers. So even if a product says it is “gluten-free,” one can never be sure of its safety. A restaurant that offers gluten-free food may have used the same oven to cook foods with gluten.
Some caution with being over-vigilant
Vigilance is good. Overdoing it is not. In a 2003 study of the Journal of American Dietetic Association, it was found that eight of 10 people having a strict coeliac diet faced difficulties in dining out and in traveling. Seven of 10 experienced negative impacts on their family and four of 10 at work. Fifteen years on, the same effect on social life has been observed. A 2018 Columbia University study revealed that coeliac sufferers who are extremely vigilant had a significantly lower quality of life compared to those who are less vigilant.
It is important to be vigilant. But being too informed and wary may not do you any more good.