Food allergies are becoming super trendy lately, judging by the number of “free” of this and that dishes popping up at restaurants. Gluten free foods have become ubiquitous to the point of earning their very own menus. There even exists a dedicated gluten free bakery right outside of Nashville.

A few years ago, I foraged into the gluten free world due to some serious symptoms, which all pointed towards Celiac disease. Had no insurance at the time, so, like many do, I self-medicated by removing gluten from my diet. I stayed off gluten for a year, relapsed, and quit again two years ago.

Little did I know that taking gluten out of my diet would cause problems getting diagnosed later on. I visited my PCP about a month ago, and presented with no symptoms. My PCP suggested I go back on gluten for a week and then get the blood test done. She would check for the antibodies that would indicate my immune system was reacting to the gluten.

A few weeks later, my test results are back and the test is negative; however, my iron is low. Iron deficiency anemia can be one of the complications to Celiac. I was a little confused about the negative result. I began to wonder if one week back on the gluten was not enough to spark my immune system, even though I experienced symptoms after just a few days of eating gluten. A quick internet search led me to the ‘gluten challenge.’

A gluten challenge apparently consists of eating a certain amount of gluten for at least 6-8 weeks. This is good and bad news for me. It may mean that I did not eat enough gluten for a long enough period in order to get correct test results, which means that I may have to do a longer gluten challenge. Which, quite frankly, sucks.

My question is has anyone else experienced similar events? I am trying to decide if I could actually tolerate a longer challenge or if I need to just forget it. I am also considering finding another physician. I’d really like to get this resolved.

Shall I eat the wheat or not?

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