Gluten Free-just another fad?

Headach, pain
Remarkably, I have had people say to me when I have explained that I am gluten-intolerant or Celiac ( or Coeliac, depending where you are from!),”oh yes, I am aware that is the latest diet fad-that will pass just like all the others!”

I then try and explain that gluten is like poison to my body, a foreign substance that I just can’t deal with.

I talk about the effect and what  happens when I unknowingly eat gluten, the swollen stomach, the terrible pain, the headaches, the unpredictable bowel problems, the tiredness and the general “feeling unwell”; but they still look at you unconvinced and I have even had people say.”Well it won’t kill you, so it’s not as bad as you make out”

Discussing this reaction with a fellow Celiac, who has been on this path for over 10 years, she gave me some valuable advice which I will share.

Firstly she asks people if they would classify diabetes as just another fad? She then points out that gluten to a Celiac is just as poisonous as sugar to a diabetic. Certainly, it won’t kill you as quickly, but it will make your life unbearable and lead to other serious problems like osteoporosis, major joint problems and iron deficiencies that will be an expensive burden on the health system.

Probably the best way to explain it simply, is to look at the diagram.

The little finger -like projections (villi) that line the intestines  absorb and collect the vitamins and nutrients from the food we eat, and send them on their way to be used by the body

English: diagram of a Small Intestine villi

English: diagram of a Small Intestine villi (Photo credit: Wikipedithe body.

In a Celiac, if they eat Gluten, these little finger-like projections, instead of standing up, and waving about,  lie down flat, and so become unable to absorb the nutrients and vitamins from the food that the body needs to rebuild and maintain good health.Even worse than that is that they atrophy, or waste away and die. This means that the Celiac does not obtain the required essential nutrients from the food they eat, to maintain a healthy body. Calcium for strong bones, iron for building  and repairing muscles, and all the necessary vitamins and minerals that are needed daily by the body.

"A hunter attacking a brown bear."

“A hunter attacking a brown bear.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is also one of the reasons that some undiagnosed celiac sufferers put on weight and can’t shift it no matter how little they eat.

Because the villi are lying down, the body is not getting the required  nutrients and so it sends the message to the brain/body hunger centre, “eat more-we need more nutrients”.

The Celiac eats more, often feels hungry,but the nutrients are still not getting through. The body has a survival technique, left over from our ancestral hunter brain, that when it senses it is under threat it demands more food and “stores” or “lays-down” fat as a precaution, to be called on in times of famine.

So in essence, the body has switched on it’s FAT MODE as a precaution, and is in survival mode. So the person puts on weight, eats less and goes on another diet. Alarm bells ring in the brain/body hunger centre and whatever food is consumed is converted to stored fat, as it reacts to its primitive drive to survive. A vicious cycle.

So how do we turn off this primitive FAT MODE?  There is good news in all this gloom!

As a celiac, as soon as we stop eating gluten, the villi start to repair themselves. Do not be fooled or misled by others who will tell you that you will instantly feel better or lose weight immediately. This will not happen overnight, especially if you have spent a lifetime of eating wheat-based products, as I did, with gay abandon! Feeling wonderful

I have been on this path now for just over a year, and I am certainly feeling better each day. My Celiac friend who has been on this path for over 10 years, has said in her experience it takes a full 2 years for the villi to regrow and start performing as they should.

My experience has been, I did feel better almost immediately, when I eliminated gluten, and my stomach problems started to ease, but I suspect this was in part to finally having a diagnosis and at last knowing what was wrong with me. I also now include fermented products in my diet and a daily probiotic to assist the healing and digestion. Also the weight loss has been an interesting journey.

I lost some weight quite quickly, then it barely changed for months. Then suddenly, without changing my eating habits at all, I am now losing weight again. This, I suspect is due to the villi now starting to function again, so balance is being restored.

All in all I have now lost 11 kg without really trying, except for following a strict gluten free diet.

So the take-home message is be patient- you will feel better and you will lose weight-just not overnight!


A new gluten free haven in Adelaide:


MAIZE & MEZCAL RESTAURANT -Authentic Mexican Street Cuisine

Address: 405 Magill Rd, Adelaide SA 5068
Phone:0449 946 002
Hours:Thursday 12:00-3:00 pm, 5:30 pm – 12:00 am



This was the signature cake of the Waldorf Astoria in New York in the 1920’s. Topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting  they are impossible to resist and baked with a gluten-free twist.

1 12 hole cupcake pan lined with paper cases

115g butter

½ cup plus a tablespoon of caster sugar

2 eggs (room temperature)

85g  gluten-free self raising flour plus 1 teaspoon of baking powder


¾ cup of gluten free all purpose baking flour plus 2 teaspoons of baking powder & 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (Derived from fermenting glucose. Available from the supermarket. Be careful it is not from a wheat based product. Helps to improve the texture of dough and cakes. Leave out if you are on strict FODMAP program.)

½ cup ground almonds

50g dark cooking chocolate, melted

2/3 cup buttermilk

Red food colouring


1 ¾  cups icing sugar

60g butter, softened

1/3 cup cream cheese

1 tablespoon buttermilk

Gluten free cocoa powder for dusting

Piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle


Preheat oven to 180 C

Butter & sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until light & creamy. Add eggs & whisk again.

Fold in flour, baking powder, ground almonds, melted chocolate & buttermilk using a spatula.

Beat in red food colouring a drop at a time, until batter is a dark red-brown.

Divide mixture evenly between patty cases.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and they are firm to the touch.

Leave to cool on wire rack.


Sift icing sugar into mixing bowl, add butter, cream cheese & buttermilk. Beat until thick.

Spoon frosting into piping bag and pipe a large swirl on each cooled cake.

Dust with cocoa powder or if preferred red sprinkles.


Still to come: FODMAP, PIlates,Yoga, visualization & more recipes.

If you would like a FREE copy of the Fat Burning Baking Book to download, please email me at:

and I will send it to you. Please include your name, city you live in and your email address.

If you ordered one through the form that was on this blog earlier, please order again, as the form was not working.

Posted on September 26, 2013, in Health & diet and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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