Gluten Free In Eastern Carolina, Should You Do it

Gluten seems to be one of the latest buzz words when it comes to what we eat.

There are products in stores everywhere and special items on restaurant menus that are gluten free.

But is avoiding gluten something you should be doing?

Carrie Forbes is the author of five gluten free cookbooks and a blogger on the topic.

She says, "What I try to focus on is gluten free recipes that are accessible to people that can be bought frugally."

Forbes suffered from gluten sensitivity until she cut the wheat protein out of her diet.

Dr. Laura Matarese, associate professor for the Department of Internal Medicine at ECU, says some symptoms with a gluten sensitivity include, "Various gastrointestinal symptoms, abdominal discomfort, bloating, sometimes diarrhea."

She says the conditions are much more serious with celiac disease. "If you have celiac you're likely to induce inflammation and long term there's the risk of various cancers."

Jaime Walsh has twin daughters Madeline and Kendall.

At one and a half, she noticed something wasn't quite right with Madeline. Jaime says, "She started throwing up, she started having stomach pains. Her legs started hurting. She had night terrors. She was just miserable."

Jaime says doctors thought at first Madelyn was suffering from reflux. It wasn't until kindergarten that she was diagnosed with celiac disease, and subsequently, eliminated gluten from her diet.

Jaime says, "I would say within the first two weeks she got better. Within the first three months she was a different child."

Forbes' blog and cookbooks have made it easier, but avoiding gluten is an everyday battle.

Dr. Matarese says, "It's actually a very complex diet if you have to be on a gluten free diet because the gluten is present in a lot of other foods."

And Dr. Matarese says if you don't have celiac or a gluten sensitivity, there's no need to eliminate it from your diet.

Walsh couldn't agree more. She says it's expensive and her family isn't gluten free, just Madelyn. But Walsh says for her, eliminating it is a real lifesaver. "You can literally make yourself sick by eating gluten if you're not supposed to eat it."

As vigilant as someone is, there is still a risk of consuming gluten because of cross contamination, where the food may simply come in contact with something that has wheat in it.

If you think gluten may be making you sick, you'll want to head to your doctor for a proper diagnosis before eliminating it.

If you want to try the gluten free cookies or muffins you saw in this story, you can click on the related links.

There's also a facebook group in Eastern Carolina for kids with celiac called "ROCK," Raising Our Celiac Kids."