5 Things to discuss with a doctor if you think you’re gluten intolerant


As a dietitian, the sudden surge of people on gluten free diets makes me nervous. Very nervous. Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are very real things. People who cannot tolerate gluten know that even one crumb of food that contains gluten will make them extremely ill. I’m not discounting that. What makes me nervous is the wave of people who are experimenting with a gluten-free diet without sound health information to support their diet.

The reasons people are going gluten free are plentiful: weight loss, improved skin, more energy, better digestion. I get it. They want to see if going gluten free will help them feel better, and who doesn’t want to feel better!? But what I’d love to see more of is people having conversations about their gluten free trials with medical professionals, whether it is a doctor or a dietitian. Cutting out all gluten-containing products – bread, cereal, crackers, and pasta just scratch the surface – could mean you’re cutting out significant amounts of nutrients from your diet, if you’re not replacing them properly. It’s not enough to take an entire food category out of your diet, you have to know what to put back in so you can be at your optimal health. A dietitian can help you out with that!

In addition, many people choose to go on gluten free experiments before getting an actual celiac disease test. This seemingly innocent trial can actually alter your test results, showing a potential false negative.

If you have a hunch that gluten is not your friend, meet with a dietitian who specializes in digestive health before making any major changes to your diet. Of course you know best when it comes to how food makes you feel, but a dietitian can help you ensure you’re meeting all of your needs. To prepare for your appointment, make sure to:

1. Ask if there is anything you should or should not do, but make sure not to restrict your diet before your appointment.

2. Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, and not just digestive symptoms. Have you noticed a rash that won’t go away? Too tired to make it to the gym after work lately? Write it down.

3. Write down any personal information, including any recent, out of the ordinary events or stressful episodes. If you started a new job, moved to a big city, or broke up with a boyfriend, make note.

4. Make a list of all of your medications, vitamins, and supplements you take. This could even include things like flax seeds in your breakfast smoothies. The more information you can record, the better!

5. Write down any questions to ask your doctor or dietitian before your appointment so you can hit the ground running when you meet. While your primary care physician might be a good person to start with, a doctor and dietitian who specialize in gastroenterology (your tummy health) may be more equipped to help you.

To find a dietitian near you, visit www.eatright.org.

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