Registered and Licensed Dietitian    Herbalist    Dynamic Energetic Healing Practitioner ,

Bites of Wisdom

as featured on The Camille Conte Show 

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Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig

1.  What is gluten and where do I find it?

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for GF Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. 1:40 Our focus for today is 2 short questions: What is gluten and where do I find it? Gluten is a protein (or group of proteins) that is found in Wheat, Rye, and Barley and anything “related to it” (such as spelt) or “contaminated” by contact with it. The obvious place to find gluten is in grain products such as breads, muffins, pasta, cereals, bagels, pizza, waffles, pretzels, cookies, cake, and more. It is usually found in thickened gravies and in many sauces. Beer contains gluten unless it is specifically made gluten free. Gluten can be found in many less obvious products such as soy sauce, turkey injected w/broth, caramel color, medicines, and skin care products. Soy sauce is an ingredient in many items such as beef jerky, smoked fish, and salad dressings. Most commercial oats contain gluten from the other grains that come along with it – this is known as “cross contamination”. There is potential for cross contamination with other GF grains too, such as buckwheat. If there is any doubt, it is important to look for a gluten free claim on a label. For our next bite, we’ll chew on why gluten is a problem.

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2. Why gluten is a problem.

 Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for GF living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. 1:37 Todays bite of GF Wisdom addresses “why gluten is a problem”. Gluten is hard to digest and it hasn’t always been part of the human diet. Wheat is mentioned in the bible; however, that wheat was not the same as today’s wheat. Wheat has been hybridized to increase gluten content and this may be contributing to the widespread nature of the problem. Furthermore, I believe that genetic engineering has changed our food supply leading to unpredicted outcomes. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley. Some say that the ancient grains are easier to digest and therefore are better tolerated. While this may be true, I remind you that if gluten is your issue, ancient grains such as wheat, kamut and spelt still contain gluten! There are many theories emerging about what happens in the body to cause problems with gluten. The testing is not always clear-cut because there isn’t one single type of reaction – more on theories later. For our next bite we’ll chew on symptoms that may be associated with gluten.

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3. Symptoms associated with gluten, including some that may surprise us.

 Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for GF living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Today we examine “symptoms” associated with gluten, including some that may surprise us. The range of symptoms is huge! More than 200 symptoms have been identified with gluten and they range dramatically from gut, to skin problems, pain, fatigue, balance, behavior and mood issues, plus more. Traditionally, the focus has been on diarrhea, wasting, and nutritional deficiencies. In contrast, gut symptoms also include constipation, bloating and weight gain. Skin problems include eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis. Other conditions include: IBS, GERD, fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteoporosis, psychiatric problems (including schizophrenia and bi-polar), dyslexia, autism, ADD, depression, and criminal behavior. People have eliminated the conditions I’ve mentioned while eating GF. Keep in mind, the symptoms return with the reintroduction of gluten! Actually, almost any symptom could be due to gluten, even canker sores and poor tooth enamel! Personally, I believe that if more people ate gluten free there would be fewer people in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. Our next bite chews on whether to test before eating GF.

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4. Is a medical test needed before embracing the GF lifestyle?

 Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for GF living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Today we ask whether a medical test is needed before embracing the GF lifestyle? or Is it just a trend? Gluten free may seem trendy, but I believe that if it causes people to get well after years of illness, it is hardly a problem and unlikely to be a temporary trend. Celiac is an autoimmune condition where the only treatment is strict, lifelong adherence to a GF lifestyle. There is also a growing classification described as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The treatment is also a GF diet. However, the diagnosis is different. So - My answer to the question is “Yes, I believe it is important to be tested to rule out celiac first before going GF”, because you can’t always tell by symptoms alone, and, because you must be eating gluten in order to test positive. If the test is positive – GF is essential. If the test is negative, you may still benefit from eating GF. After testing, the next step is a GF living trial. If you skip the testing and have relief while GF, some doctors suggest reintroducing gluten and then testing. I don’t believe it is ethical to make people sick again just to diagnose them. In the next two bites we’ll chew on both celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

5. Celiac: What is it?

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Our bite of wisdom for today looks at Celiac: What is it? Celiac is an autoimmune condition - where the body attacks itself in the presence of gluten. Damage occurs in the small intestine. We call it “flattened villi”. The small intestine is designed to have as much surface area as possible to absorb food (imagine: folds, plus projections that resemble fingers and hairs to create more surface). The damage from gluten results in a smoother surface and therefore less absorption. In some people this shows up as diarrhea! When food passes through quickly there is less time for nutrient absorption. You can also have celiac without diarrhea, but there is still intestinal damage. The malabsorption in celiac can cause anemia and osteoporosis. If you have celiac and don’t adhere to a gluten free lifestyle, you are also likely to develop additional autoimmune conditions. If you already have an autoimmune condition, it is time to get serious about embracing a GF lifestyle! The damage can and does heal with a healthy Gluten Free approach, but with celiac, healing doesn’t mean that it is ever safe to eat gluten again. Our next bite will focus on people without celiac that have a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

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6. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: What is it?

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Our focus for today is non-celiac gluten sensitivity. There isn’t widespread agreement on this category. We know that some people feel better eating gluten free, and their symptoms return when they reintroduce gluten. In many cases scientists haven’t figured out why. Until the reasons are better understood, testing will not be clear-cut. Symptoms in both categories can be quite similar, but the non-celiac condition isn’t autoimmune, where the body attacks itself. Symptoms in the non-celiac conditions can be just as severe as with celiac, so strict attention is needed for both. It appears to be an earlier stage of an immune reaction causing inflammation. Leading theories also point to intestinal permeability triggered by gluten, causing symptoms that can show up elsewhere in the body including the brain. The prevalence of brain fog is higher in non-celiac gluten sensitivity than in celiac, and it seems to occur later in life. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is often helped by avoiding gluten and may in some cases be associated with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Our next bite focuses on getting started and what to eat while embracing the GF lifestyle.

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7. Getting started - What to eat on a basic Gluten Free Diet?

 Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Our bite for today is Getting started - What to eat while embracing the basic Gluten Free lifestyle? So far we’ve touched on what gluten is, where it is found, and why we should care. There are many GF products in the stores now, but as a dietitian and a health advocate, I want to encourage you to focus on “real food”. Often there is so much focus on what GF bread, cookies and cakes can be eaten, that there is a total disconnect with the point, which is getting well. Bakery items aren’t really the ticket to ideal nourishment and are best kept as “occasional” foods. To keep matters simple, I want to highlight basic foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds. These are all naturally GF. Other GF foods include milk and most dairy foods, as well as legumes and potatoes. There are also many grains that are GF including many types of rice (even the ones referred to as “glutinous”, sweet, or sticky rice), corn, millet, quinoa, amaranth, teff, sorghum, oats, buckwheat and more. Oats are often on the avoidance list as they are frequently contaminated with gluten containing grains, which as a reminder are wheat, rye and barley. Spelt and Kamut are closely related to wheat and are NOT gluten free. Keep the start up diet simple. Our next bite of wisdom will address how to set up your kitchen because you really don’t want to eat gluten by mistake.

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9. Cross-Contamination: How to be safe at home.

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Our GF Bite of Wisdom for today is about: How to be safe from Cross-Contamination at home. In other words, how I can be protected from unintended gluten exposure. This is especially important when other household members are eating gluten. Cross-contamination can occur before, during or after the food has been prepared. Walking through a kitchen with flour in the air can result in ingesting gluten. Using a condiment, such as butter, mayonnaise or jelly, which was used previously to spread on bread can be a source of gluten cross-contamination. Shared appliances such as toasters and cutting boards are a risky for the gluten sensitive person.  Dedicated gluten free homes have fewer cross contamination mistakes. If one family member is GF and others have not yet embraced the lifestyle, they may want to consider eating GF at home and while eating gluten only when away from home. Otherwise, strict attention is needed to reduce cross contamination. Gotta watch those roving utensils and surfaces! Specific “recipes” may need to be banned from the house. For example, when making cookies or bread with gluten-containing flour, small particles become airborne and likely settle on the previously GF surfaces, (which may not get wiped down again). Once you are feeling safe at home, you might be ready to venture out to a restaurant. Our next bite will go from the comfort of our home to the task of eating at a restaurant. 

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10. Cross-Contamination: How to be safe away from home in restaurants.

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Today’s bite of wisdom focuses on: How to eat safely in restaurants.  When eating in a restaurant it is important to specify what your needs are and why. Many restaurants have gluten free designations or even a special menu. Many servers are familiar with the diet and options on the menu. However, do not assume that they know what they are talking about. You may need to ask specific questions to assure that they know you mean gluten and wheat. I’m often surprised when part way into this process, I discover that they think I want vegetarian! Remember, some patrons don’t quite fully embrace gluten free, so you may want to let your server know that you are serious and need the same level of attention as would be required for an “allergy”. If your server states that he or she doesn’t know if an item is gluten free, without offering to get the answer, I advise you to remain cheerful, yet firmly state that it is important to your safety that you get an accurate answer. Ask them to speak to the chef, cook or the manager. Be willing to eat simply in order to eat safely. Often if you know where you plan to eat, you can call ahead at a non-peak time to go over menu options so that you arrive with a plan. I like this option as it removes stress when eating in a group. Our next bite continues with tips for eating at potlucks.

11. Cross-Contamination: How to eat at potlucks safely.

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Today’s Bite of Wisdom shares useful tips to eat safely at potlucks. Potlucks can be hazardous with roving serving utensils and random crackers dipping into otherwise gluten free food. This type of cross contamination can also occur at home. Plan to bring your own GF item with a recipe and label it clearly. You may want to make a note about being careful to use only the utensil provided with your dish.  Make sure you will feel satisfied to eat what you bring, because there is a chance it will be the only thing you can eat. A benefit to identifying your item as gluten free is that often there is at least one other person in the group eating gluten free, and you can support one another. Furthermore, you educate and pave the way for the next person….and the world becomes a better place. Remember that even though people may want to please you and offer you GF foods, you cannot afford to eat “mights” (meaning foods that might be GF). You are responsible for what you put in your mouth and to be safe away from home you either need to bring all your own food or you learn effective ways to ask for information. Our next bite will glimpse a step beyond GF for further healing.  

12. A step beyond the basic GF approach to identify additional foods that might need to be avoided for further healing.

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Today’s bite of wisdom takes a step beyond the basic GF approach to identify additional foods that might need to be avoided for further healing. Previously we reviewed the basic GF approach choosing from naturally GF foods. For maximum success you might need to eliminate milk, milk products, legumes, potatoes and all grains. If this idea is more than you can bear, tuck it away for later. Often milk isn’t tolerated well, even if just temporarily. If you aren’t getting well fast enough, it is important to look at a trial elimination of dairy foods and products. Furthermore, many researchers are beginning to say that the gluten containing grains are only the worst of the grains. The theory that humans are not well suited for grains is because our genes have not adapted as quickly as our diet has changed with agriculture. The Paleo diet (short for Paleolithic) embraces minimally processed vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds. It prohibits milk, grains, potatoes, and legumes. I find it useful as a template to improve health and then to liberalize with our own personal best foods.  My next bite of wisdom will address an important nugget about motivation.

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8. How to transition and set up your kitchen.

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. Our last bite covered what to eat on your basic GF lifestyle, now it is time to address how to transition and set up your kitchen to support this approach. First off you need to decide whether or not the entire household will be GF. If not, you will need to establish safe zones–to prevent cross contamination. In my opinion, success is more certain when the home becomes fully GF. It will be necessary to look at ALL food in the home: the shelves, the freezer, the refrigerator and wherever else you store food, including canisters. You may want to enlist help from someone like me who is organized and experienced with GF. Sort everything into clearly marked boxes: Keep, donate, or discard. Be especially careful with packaged food, unlabeled bulk foods, leftovers and condiments. Your shelves, once emptied, need to be washed down to eliminate gluten contamination. Be wary of opened condiments, and leftover foods, especially if unlabeled. Be selective with what you buy, and restock gradually. You may not actually need the GF specialty foods. Meanwhile, embrace nutritious fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. For our next bite, we will address risks of cross-contamination at home – especially for households that are not exclusively GF. 

13. Motivation and the connection between what we eat and how we feel.

Welcome to Bites of Wisdom for Gluten Free Living with Nancy Ludwig, Integrative Dietitian. So far our bites of wisdom have addressed: What is gluten and where do I find it? Why is it a problem? What symptoms might someone experience with gluten? Do I need a test before going gluten free? We’ve looked at - Celiac and Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. We covered –getting started on the basic, gluten free lifestyle and how to transition your kitchen to GF. We addressed potential Cross-Contamination and at home, at restaurants, and at potlucks. Last, we looked at how we might achieve even greater success by making additional changes about what we eat. Today we look at a very important nugget: Motivation.

Personally, my most important triumph on my journey was when I made the connection between “what I ate and how I felt”. Personal motivation comes down to just that. I could choose to eat the foods that I loved or I could choose to feel and think better. It became clear that the price of my symptoms was too high. In my situation, clear thinking was my primary motivation. I’m a good enough cook that I wasn’t going to stop enjoying my food and I don’t expect you to have to give up enjoyment. The enjoyment however, goes far beyond eating delicious wholesome foods to including a state of feeling good and being your best! My life was improved dramatically by first avoiding wheat, then gluten and later going grain and dairy free. I can help you move through the journey to finding your personal best foods.

Please let me know what you would like to hear more about. I have unlimited ideas but I want to hear from you, the listener. Please drop me a note on my Facebook page or Website.

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