Thailand Gluten Free information blog
Thailand Gluten Free
Why you're still getting glutened

So you follow a strict gluten-free diet and take any precautions available, but for some reason you're still getting bloaty, you visit the toilet more than you like and the stomach cramps keep returning. There are a few causes that might still get you glutened.

Contamination

A common problem that all of us Celiacs encounter is that the food is contaminated. The food you eat might have been in contact with gluten containing food. Not only your food could be contaminated but the things to prepare and consume the food as well. Think of spoons and knives that have been in contact with gluten and not properly cleaned or perhaps they are cleaned in dirty water or wiped dry with a dirty towel. And even if you are sure you prepared everything the way it should be, do the ones around you do the same?

I know that I often make a mistake and I have been a Celiac for many years already, so I can imagine how easy it is for those around me to make a mistake when they are not celiacs themselves.

The gluten free label is a lie

Here is a fun fact. Not all "gluten free" food is free from gluten. You read that correctly, that label "gluten free" in many cases actually means, "just a tiny bit of gluten". According to US laws a product may be labeled as gluten free when it has less than 20 parts gluten per million. the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that anything less then those 20 parts should not cause any problems with the average gluten-sensitive person. This is true but the fact is, you might not be an average person do you?

The real kicker however is when you consume a lot of those less then 20 parts per million products. Those tiny bits of gluten build up, especially when you already consume a bit of gluten here and there through cross-contamination. If you are extremely sensitive to gluten I would suggest to limit the amount of those "gluten-free" products and replace them with fresh non-premanufactured products.

Misscommunication

I went to Paris one day and ordered a gluten free crepe, it was advertised as glutenfree on the restaurant front and on their website. Well, there seemed to be a bit of a misunderstanding. Acording to the restaurant owner, gluten free means not made from gluten grains. He never heard of cross contamnation and he was surprised that I actually also wanted the flakes that he sprinkeled on top of it to be gluten free. He argued that I only ordered a glutenfree crepe and not glutenfree flakes. Oh you French people.

This is not just a French people problem though and miscommunication is all over the world. In Holland I asked a shop why they placed a glutenfree sign next to their products while I doubted if they actually were, and they replied to me that they were advised by a friend to place the sign to attract more customers. After some talking to them I realized that they did not really knew what glutenfree actually is.

Gluten-free has become a trend and there are some shops / restaurants (not all of them, but some) that just want to jump in to gain the benefits. Always be carefull even when something is advertised as gluten free. When in doubt, it's better not to take the risk.

Here in Thailand the miscommunication is mainly due to the language barrier. You might explain it perfectly in English, but the restaurant chef might still get a different message from it. For these cases I made a Thai glutenfree restaurant card that you can save and print out.

Are you really getting glutened?

The final reason why you are still getting glutened could be that you are actually not glutened at all. There are many things that can cause symptoms similar to it.

It might be that you just ate something bad. Meat that has been under the sun a bit too long, or not cooked long enough. Here in Thailand it is not uncommon to get a case of minor food poisoning once and a while, especially if you try the sea food.

It could also be that you have an allergy or have an intolerance to something else than gluten. Lactose intolerance is the famous one that will give you the cramps, diarrhea and bloated stomach.

Other food intolerances may also result in bloating. The glutinous protein in oats is similar to the gluten within wheat and while officially it's a "gluten-free" type of grain, the gluten protein found in oats can still cause some people to get the same symptoms as consuming wheat gluten. Most celiacs are okay with eating oats, but some are not.

If it's not an intolerance to a specific type of food then it might be that your body isn't making enough amounts of enzymes or stomach acid necesary to digest your food. Unfortunately, the older we get, the less we produce those and it's a common problem.

What can also make you bloat is when you have a gut imballance. We all have good bacteria in our bodies and we would not be able to survive without them. Usually these bacteria live in harmony but once and a while they go on a full scale war. The chaos created by the war is a perfect condition for certain bacteria to take over. When you have a lot of undigested proteins in your stomach, bacteria like yeast feed on it and create gas and make you look like a balloon.

There might be some more reasons of your glutening or your "gluten-like" sympthoms as well, but these are the main ones I can think off. If you know of any others, then I would like to hear about them from you.

Thailand Gluten Free