Living with intolerance in the South

on Tuesday, 03 July 2018. Posted in Columns, Editorials

I am gluten intolerant. This means that I have sensitivity to gluten. What is gluten? Well, I’m glad you asked! Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. ‘Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected’ (Celiac Disease Foundation).


You read that correctly, barley, wheat, and rye. All three of these grains and some other less common grains as well contain gluten. Having merely an intolerance means that I am not as affected by cross contamination like those with Celiac Disease, but it is still very important for me to avoid gluten. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What does this kid eat, air?! Well, the short answer is ‘no’, but the long answer is a lot more complicated. So sit back, push your reading glasses up to your nose, and prepare to learn all about a world without gluten.


‘Gluten seems harmless and natural enough, but to some one in 133 Americans, about 1 percent of the population, gluten can cause indigestion, headache, nausea, skin rashes, chronic fatigue, and even depression’ (Bushak, 2015). For most people, gluten is not an issue at all. Many can go their entire lives eating bread and drinking beer with no physical complications whatsoever. Gluten is actually in a lot of foods that one might not think there would need to be. For instance, some French fries, usually made with potatoes, have gluten in them as filler. Some barbeque sauces also have wheat added to them in order to make the sauce thicker. Even certain mints can contain gluten!


With all this gluten hiding, it can sometimes be hard to find food that I can eat. It has become increasingly more difficult since moving to the South, however. From the biscuits to banana pudding and as I have learned you can pretty much bread anything and fry it, it isn’t always easy to make sure that I don’t end up getting sick.


Thus far, I may have made it seem as though I live off of water and weird gluten free meal paste, but I can assure you that I am more than able to find food I can eat. For instance, I can have a hamburger if I ask for it to be wrapped in lettuce rather than a bun. There are a few places down here that have gluten free pizzas; my personal favorite is over at the Mellow Mushroom. Chick-fil-A has some gluten free items on their menu as well. I can have chicken wings at some establishments depending on what type of sauce they put on the wings. I can, of course, always have a salad so long as there are no croutons or gluten in the dressing. I do have a sweet tooth like most anyone does. I often make my own gluten free cakes, brownies, or cookies, but if I’m ever not feeling like baking I head to Sweet Café and Bakery in Florence for some gluten free goodies.


Life without gluten is not always easy. It’s beneficial to me because it keeps me healthy. Most people can continue their gluten-full lives with no issues at all. For some people, eating gluten free is a trend, but for me it is a health necessity.


Do you know someone who cannot eat gluten too? Are you not able to eat gluten? Do you have any suggestions for where I can get some gluten free food? Let me know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

References: 

Bushak, L. (2015, September 18). A Brief History Of Gluten And ‘Wheat Intolerance’. Retrieved June 28,  2018, from https://www.medicaldaily.com/brief-history-gluten-protein-baked-goods-how-wheat-intolerance-has-risen-over-years-353244

Celiac Disease Foundation. (2018). What is Gluten? Retrieved June 13, 2018 from https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/ what-is-gluten/ #cIRLDTp1iFGrI3qs.99