By Marc Courtiol
Wheat intolerance is a condition in which the body has difficulty digesting wheat. It is not, however, the same thing as wheat allergy.
A wheat allergy actually causes an autoimmune response within the body that produces immediate allergy symptoms such as wheezing, severe headache, swelling of the face or tongue, hives, rash, runny nose, or breathing problems. Fortunately, only a very small percentage of the population actually has a wheat allergy (approximately 1%).
Wheat intolerance, on the other hand, usually causes the following symptoms:
- Abdominal bloating and cramping
- Fatigue (unexplained or unusual)
Of course, the symptoms of wheat intolerance are somewhat vague and could possibly be related to a number of illnesses or conditions, so it is typically very difficult to diagnose. If you routinely suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, it is recommended that you seek advice from your physician, a nutritionist, or an allergy/immunology specialist.
In fact, if you suspect that you have a food allergy or sensitivity, your best course of action may be to consult with an allergist so that you can be tested. Keep in mind that even if you do not test positive for a wheat allergy, you could still have a sensitivity or intolerance. If this is the case, your physician or nutritionist should be able to provide you with a list of ingredients that you should stay away from so that you don’t aggravate your condition.
Unfortunately, the list of foods that you will need to stay away from is a bit intimidating, and quite too lengthy to list here. Should you have any questions or concerns about the foods or ingredients that you need to avoid, a nutritionist can easily provide you with this information. As a starting point, however, the following list includes some foods that you should avoid if you discover that you are wheat intolerant:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Cold cuts
- Hot Dogs
Again, this list is certainly not exhaustive, so please consult a licensed nutritionist for the most comprehensive information concerning the foods and ingredients that you need to avoid. In some cases, you may find that once you have stopped consuming wheat products for a while, you may gradually be able to incorporate them back into your diet a little bit at a time. For many people, however, it is very difficult to begin consuming wheat again once they have completely gotten it out of their systems.
If you are wheat intolerant, one of the best things you can do for your overall health is to learn to love preparing your own meals. Eating out is not impossible if you are wheat intolerant, but it is very difficult simply because it is unrealistic to try to know exactly what ingredients are being used in the dishes that are served. If you become accustomed to preparing your own foods, you will likely find that you feel better than you have in a long time and you will reach a point where you don’t really miss eating at restaurants.