Three Mistakes When Starting A Gluten Free Diet

In part 3 of this expert interview series with Dr. Peter Osborne, a medical advisor for Gluten Free Society, we learned how to reduce some of the gluten side effects.

All of this is very eye-opening stuff. But how do you start a gluten free diet? Today we’ll learn a few mistakes that people make when going gluten free.


Mike: Let’s talk about when somebody is starting a gluten free diet. Can you give us two to three mistakes that you see people make when either they just first start off or maybe two or three months down the road some mistakes they might make when they’re attempting to go gluten free?

Peter: Sure. The number one mistake that we see is they fail to read the food label or they make an assumption about a food product because they don’t even think it could contain a form of gluten.

Let me give you an example. The number one ingredient in soy sauce is wheat, which is very high in gluten content. If you’re eating Chinese food and let’s just say you’re not eating blatantly any type of grain but all the meat is doused in soy sauce and all the vegetables are cooked in soy sauce. You’re getting a heavy dose of gluten.

That would probably be the biggest mistake we see. A person will make the assumption that it doesn’t have gluten because it’s not bread, pasta, or cereal. Sauces, dip, mayonnaise, ketchup, not all brands do but many brands can contain gluten as a filler or as a thickener. The rookie mistake number one is failure to acknowledge that something could contain gluten even though it’s not bread, pasta, or cereal.

One of the other mistakes that we see happen is the non-edible gluten. One time I had a patient who was very sick and we couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting better. We came to find out that they shared an office space and next door to them was a bakery. The air ducts were the same. They were actually getting gluten exposure from the flour in the bakery. It was going into the air ducts and they were breathing in gluten flour all day long.

When we figured that out they actually were able to transfer to a different location and their problems resolved. It’s that kind of exposure that you don’t even think about that could be potentially keeping you down or potentially damaging you. Another example would be the potential to have gluten in lipstick. There are a lot females and the lipstick that they use might contain a wheat starch or some type of corn starch. That’s another source of exposure.

Even from a guy, I had a patient one time and she was getting gluten exposure. We couldn’t figure out where. We found out it was from her boyfriend who ate a Subway sandwich everyday at lunch. When they would kiss they would exchange gluten.

Mike:    Oh wow. That little bit can make a difference?

Peter: It can. It’s not that I always see that it makes or breaks. That’s why in my office we do genetic testing. If a person is truly gluten sensitive then they need to have a no tolerance policy to gluten. Even a small amount is enough to create inflammatory damage and to cause them a lot of health issues. It might get diagnosed as something else.

I’ve had patients with very rare diseases. I’ve had patients with very common diseases. In many of these cases, gluten was at the core of the issue and until they had a zero tolerance policy to gluten they weren’t actually able to recover or get better. Yes, it can affect a person that much.

There can be gluten in shampoo. There can be gluten in toothpaste. Again, it boils back down to reading your labels and knowing what you’re putting on your body and what you’re putting in your body so that you can protect yourself to the best of your capabilities.

Mike:    Great information. I did not know that, especially about the little things like lipstick and stuff like that. Will that show on the label of the lipstick?

Peter: It should. Makeup labels and shampoo labels are a little bit different then food labels.  Food labels, by law they’re required to list everything in the ingredients. You get into cosmetics, and generally what happens is a woman will buy cosmetics and then she’ll end up throwing away the box that they came in. It was the box that contained all the ingredients but the actual makeup liner or the lipstick casing itself doesn’t have a list of ingredients.

You can get online and type in the name of the product that you’re using and from a lot of these companies you can get the ingredients that they’re using. It’s a pretty easy process. Once you find a brand that you know is gluten free then it’s pretty easy to stick to that brand.

Initially, the biggest challenge that patients have and that people have with going gluten free initially is just the learning curve. It’s just like with anything else. You think about it in what you do. You teach people how to top off their workouts by implementing different forms of exercise and different intensities of these different forms of exercise, it’s second hand knowledge to you because you’ve been doing it and you’ve been training people to do it for a long time. To those new people who are just learning it, it can be kind of learning curve and kind of a challenge. Once they start to get it down, it becomes easier and easier.

It’s the same thing with going gluten free. That initial curve can take six to twelve weeks to really get through. Once you’re through that, then it becomes pretty much like auto pilot. It’s a pretty easy diet to follow. I’ve actually been following it for close to ten years now without any issues or without any regression or problems. It’s not a challenge. It’s just a challenge at first.

Yours in health and fitness,

Mike (AKA “Mikey”) Whitfield, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer