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What Can I Get Away With?

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I have not been diagnosed with with celiac, but suspect I am at least gluten sensitive. I am debating getting the test, but after being gluten free for 2 weeks and feeling a bit better I really don't want to go back. Also I hate forking out the money. I am wondering, if I do have celiac and ingest small amounts of gluten is it doing a lot of damage to my body even if I do not get any symptoms? Can some people with celiac get away with trace amounts or the occasional mistake?

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If it is celiac, the simple answer is that no amount of gluten is ever okay to consume, regardless of whether or not it causes you distress. The more complicated answer is that some people are far more sensitive than others to the least bit of cross contamination and while the 20 ppm rule may be fine for some, only foods from dedicated gluten free facilities work for others. While learning the ropes you will make the occasional mistake, that is an absolute given. Over time this will happen less and less often. There is never need to berate yourself for a mistake, but you should also never let your guard down or never give yourself license to make a mistake. There is no such thing as a harmless taste, just a lick, or a quick nibble. Your new motto in life is every label, every time. And to answer the question, yes, even small amounts of gluten are doing damage to your body if you have celiac. Even if it isn't, studies are new on NCGI and little is known and it is equally important to be just as careful because it is possible that the stakes are just as high and we simply have no scientific evidence of that yet.

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It is unfortunate that you cannot tell from your symptoms how much damage gluten is doing to your body. There are people who have no noticeable symptoms, yet whose intestinal lining has been totally destroyed. Others have the worst symptoms, and test negative for celiac :unsure:

Any amount of gluten that keeps the body producing gluten antibodies is going to cause damage, so people who cheat, especially those who do not know whether or not they are celiac, are playing Russian roulette with their bodies. We are all going to make an occasional mistake on the gluten free diet, and we will all pay some kind of price for that mistake. As long as the mistakes are minimal it shouldn't make too much difference.

Now, as for the diagnosis, it is tricky at best, and after two weeks gluten free you would probably have to do a pretty reasonable challenge to have a chance at accurate results. If you are gluten sensitive, you need to eat gluten free anyway, no matter the diagnosis, because not enough is yet known about what gluten does to those who have a non-celiac gluten intolerance.

Welcome to the boards and fire away with any other questions you have.

ETA: cross-posted with Adalaide :)

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Hi JAS2,

That's one of the advantages of getting diagnosed with celiac, you do know it is a serious disorder. Celiac is an auto-immune condition, which means the body creates an immune system response to it's own tissues. Those immune system antibodie cells stay active for a while, and they keep attacking the body. They don't disappear the day after you eat some gluten. Think of measles. You get a shot as a kid and you have immunity for life. The body has that information on how to fight measles stored and ready to go all the time. If it didn't you would get measles every year or more often. Your immune system is like an elephant, it doesn't forget. It also reacts to very small amounts of something. Measles germs aren't very big are they? You have probably never seen one. gluten is small also, but when you eat something with gluten you are eating millions of protein fragments that your immune system reacts to. It won't slip by undetected if you have celiac.

Some starting the gluten-free diet tips for the first 6 months:

Get tested before starting the gluten-free diet.

Get your vitamin/mineral levels tested also.

Don't eat in restaurants

Eat only whole foods not processed foods.

Eat only food you cook yourself, think simple foods, not gourmet meals.

Take probiotics.

Take gluten-free vitamins.

Take digestive enzymes.

Avoid dairy.

Avoid sugars and starchy foods.

Avoid alcohol.

Helpful threads:

FAQ Celiac com


Newbie Info 101


What's For Breakfast Today?


Easy yummy bread in minutes


How bad is cheating?


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