If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease by your doctor, chances are excellent that you’ve already received several good resources on the gluten-free diet.
Unfortunately, since gluten-free diets have become popular enough for people to fake allergies at restaurants, a lot of misinformation is out there as well.
Here are some myths about the disease that you might also have heard, and why they’re not true.
Myth #1: Celiacs can’t eat bread.
Fact: Celiacs can’t eat bread that contains gluten, but there are plenty of gluten free bread options available — both as ready-made products and as recipes you can make yourself. As with other breads, some will stand up to moist sandwich fillings or toast better or even simply taste better than others.
Myth #2: Celiacs are just picky eaters.
Fact: Celiac disease is a legitimate, medically diagnosable autoimmune disorder. A doctor must run tests to determine that you have it — but if you do, adherence to a strict gluten-free diet is the only currently known effective treatment.
Myth #3: Wheat-based breads are the only thing celiacs need to avoid.
Fact: Barley, rye, and products that use those ingredients in some way are also potential sources of gluten. Cross-contamination in facilities that process wheat, barley, and rye products can also be a danger to celiacs — not to mention all the things you didn’t think had gluten in them, but do.
Myth #4: Just a little bit of wheat won’t hurt a celiac.
Fact: A mere 50 milligrams of gluten per day can cause intestinal damage to people with celiac disease. You are not being dramatic or overreacting when you politely decline Grandma’s meatballs (that you know she makes with good old-fashioned bread crumbs).
Myth #5: Any product labeled “certified gluten-free” contains no gluten.
Fact: It’s nearly impossible to manufacture food products with no gluten at all, according to Beyond Celiac CEO and president Alice Bast. Instead, seeing this certification on US products indicates that the presence of gluten is limited to less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. That includes any possible instances of cross-contamination.
Myth #6: Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are the same thing.
Fact: While celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) can both be remedied by strict adherence to a gluten-free diet, researchers are still uncertain as to whether it’s gluten that causes immune system overreactions in NCGS individuals. That’s why the differentiation for now, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.