Beyond Gluten Free – Still having digestive problems and migraines?


For those of you who’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, you’re inundated with a wide variety of packaged gluten free food products in the grocery stores. Initially, this sounds like a good idea. But when you look a bit closer, you realize that the vast majority of these products are loaded with bad ingredients.

Various studies have been done that have found significant numbers of people continue to have digestive and other Celiac symptoms even after they’ve switched to the standard gluten free diet.

Studies have found it’s due to a number of factors

  • Varying Sensitivity

The exact sensitivity to gluten varies, with some people being triggered with as little as 3 parts per million (ppm), which is much lower than the 20 ppm the FDA standards set as the limit to label a product Gluten Free. Because of this, many of you will still be getting gluten in your diet.

  • Other Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Many people are sensitive, allergic or unable to properly digest a variety of other common foods. These will also cause many of the same or related symptoms. Some of them include:

» Cereal grains (oats, corn, rice, etc.)

» Soy (oil, flour, food additives made from soy, etc.)

» Processed vegetable oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, soy, etc.)

» Sugar (all processed forms)

» Dairy

  • Thyroid Disorders

Celiac sufferers also have a much higher rate of thyroid problems. These can be much harder to diagnose and to treat. The key to solve these issues, once you’ve tried to resolve your problems with a variety of diet changes, is to find a doctor or practitioner that actually has experience successfully treating these conditions. This is actually much harder to treat than you’d expect. Very few doctors know how to do anything other than the old fashioned thyroid treatments, such as killing the thyroid and putting you on medication the rest of your life. They just don’t know anything about the more extreme diet changes that are needed to put these kinds of issues into remission. The Functional Medicine field is starting to gain more traction in spreading the word about the successful protocols they’re creating and customizing for patients.

  • Other Triggering Substances

The vast majority of food additives come with varying degrees of side effects. Since the sheer number of food additives makes it virtually impossible to test them individually to see which of them causes you the worst problems, it really is wise to simply eliminate them all. This may seem daunting, but there are a number of food plans available that do a very good job of eliminating these toxins. The Paleo diet is an example. If you make a point of avoiding buying all the packaged foods that are becoming more popular for Paleo (and any other food plan), and stick to making your own food, these can go a very long way to setting you on the right path.

Almost all of the 3,000 + food additives have side effects of varying degrees, so when you have any sort of health problem, it just makes sense to remove them from your diet. Most of these additives are highly processed, and derived from unnatural ingredients, or ingredients that have been so highly processed and stripped and chemically manipulated, that they don’t behave in the body like normal food. The sheer volume of information out there on how bad some of these substances are for humans, and the fact that nothing is done to remove these substances from the food supply, raises a red flag about the entire industry. Though the main stream media does not cover this topic, it doesn’t change the fact that the evidence is overwhelming, when you look for it, and that these substances are bad for us.

The Functional Medicine field is also starting to really gain some momentum in documenting success with patients via diet changes. These diet changes involve cleaning up the diet, getting the toxins out, and then customizing a diet plan just for you. For those who are eating a gluten free diet, this field of medicine can really help root out some hidden gluten, as well as knowing the other substances that are common, and not so common, that need to be removed from your diet. Some of them have the experience on how to fine tune what should be added, and how to customize a treatment plan for the stubborn cases where you just can’t find all the problems yourself.

What You Can Do

When you first start eating Gluten Free, or make any other major diet change, it does take a bit of an adjustment to get used to planning out what to eat. At first it can seem very daunting. But with practice, it does become much easier, and will eventually become second nature. I’ve been eating a restricted diet for over 15 years, and it truly has become automatic. I’m an avid label reader, but even that has become automatic; I just look at the label, and know if it has bad food additives in it.

It can be easier, when you start, to create a menu for yourself. Then, once you’ve got a list of recipes you know are gluten free, you can build your shopping list from that. That way you’re not wandering around the grocery store trying to figure out what’s for dinner; that’s where it becomes overwhelming. This can work whether you create an entire weeks worth of recipes, or just a couple of days at a time. If you know you’re going to have days you’re not prepared for, then preplan out a couple of fallback recipes. You can either make sure you always have those ingredients on hand, or keep a couple recipe cards in your purse or wallet. Then you know you’ll have something good to eat, even if you didn’t have time to properly plan.

My favorite fallback recipe is chicken soup. I just throw in a whole chicken, water, salt, pepper and whatever vegetables I have on hand. Since it actually contains a chicken, I don’t even need flavoring (which is a No-No when trying to clean up your diet). The “power” flavor vegetables for chicken soup are fresh onions, fresh garlic, and fresh celery. Then throw in whatever other fresh veggies you want, and your favorite fresh herbs. You can either freeze the soup to eat later, or if you like to eat the same thing for a few days, then keep it in the fridge.

As you build the new habits, and start to make progress on your digestive issues, it really does motivate you to stick to it. And don’t worry too much if you make a slip up. Take it as a lesson learned, and remind yourself later on, when you want to do it again, how bad you felt. Use it as a motivator to find some other recipes for things you like, that don’t make you feel bad.

We often get in the routine of buying our groceries at the same places. Adding some new places to buy from, and different kinds of places that you may not have normally thought of, can help bring some variety to your diet. When you’re on a restrictive diet, it can sometimes feel like there’s nothing left to eat. Bringing in some new flavors, and new foods, can help overcome this feeling. If you ask the clerks in these new stores, especially the smaller ones, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that many will know a lot about special diets.

Looking Forward

Taking control of your health can seem like a big task at first. I’d suggest just getting started, with the goal of making progress. There won’t likely be instant success. Sometimes it can take a while to figure out what you need to cut out. Every person is different, every person is unique.

Start by making yourself a plan, and know that the plan is not set in stone. It will be a moving plan, with changing goals, and shifting priorities. Try to avoid letting people tell you there is only one path, one solution. Some of the diet plans out there, especially those really heavy into the promotion of their plan, and their products, will try to sell you on their “magic,” one size fits all solution, or their magic powder, or magic pills. There is no magic solution. It’s a plan you will build, and mold, and shape, in the years to come.

I’d like you to know that you’re not alone. There are a lot of us out there who’ve cleared the path for you, and can help you on your food journey, on your recovery journey.

Further Details to Help You Build New Habits – from Thora Toft’s Site – Feast for Freedom

Gluten Free “Eat Real” Quick Start Guide with Membership – FREE

Changing Habits for Transformation – Article

Finding New Places to Buy Food – Article


Research and Sources

Do You Still Have Symptoms, Even Though You’re Gluten-Free?

I’m Eating Gluten-Free, But I Still Have Symptoms. What’s Going On?

Dr. Tom O’Bryan – information about autoimmune diseases and gluten-related disorders

New Glutens Discovered to be Harmful To Health

Gluten Sensitivity Genes and the Flaws of Lab Testing

Leaky Gut & Gluten Interview – with Karen Brimeyer & Dr. Peter Osborne

Dr. Izabella Wentz, Pharm. D.

Gut Microbiota for Health

Data gaps in toxicity testing of chemicals allowed in food in the United States

Food Forensics – The Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health

The #1 Reason You Must Read Ingredient Lists: The FDA Admits They Can’t Do Their Job

Toxic Chemicals Deemed Safe Due to ‘Chemical Safety’ Loopholes


Thora Toft on Email
Thora Toft
Owner and Food Blogger at Feast for Freedom
Thora shares her insights on eating gluten free while also eating "Real" via her website - Feast for Freedom. Thora has overcome chronic migraines and digestive problems by eating gluten free and removing all the toxic chemicals that have invaded the modern food supply. She combines her lifetime love of cooking with the concept of eating real, clean food. Get the FREE "Gluten Free Eat Real Quick Start Guide".