Exposed: 5 Gluten and Celiac Myths

How many times has someone told you “a little gluten won’t hurt you?” Fortunately, those who have lived with diagnosed celiac for a while automatically disregard such false assertions. However, for those new to gluten-free living, sifting through the common gluten and celiac myths can be overwhelming. To help navigate the sometimes-confusing world of celiac and the gluten-free diet, two experts weight in on five popular—but inaccurate—myths.

It’s OK to eat just a little bit of gluten.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common phrases you will encounter. “Ingesting even minute amounts of gluten is dangerous if you have celiac disease,” according to Amy Burkhart, MD, RD, an integrative physician and dietitian. “Even if someone doesn’t have significant outward symptoms from the ingestion, internal damage is occurring. Studies show that at a level of 50 milligrams [equivalent to a crumb of bread], damage occurs to the intestine in most people with celiac disease. This leads to a multitude of symptoms, which vary from person to person.” Over time, the risk of long-term consequences, including heart disease, autoimmune disorders and cancer, can increase with gluten exposure.

If I take a digestive aid, I can have some gluten.

“There are currently no products on the market that adequately digest gluten to a level that is considered safe for someone with celiac disease,” Burkhart says. “The products now available on the market for gluten digestion aren’t meant to be utilized by someone with celiac disease to enable them to eat gluten. Using them for such a purpose would be dangerous, as it would expose them to toxic levels of gluten.” She adds, “Exposure to gluten in someone with celiac disease typically causes immediate symptoms as well as long-term consequences…. Currently, there are multiple medications in clinical trials…specifically for people with celiac disease. Their final approval is being anxiously awaited by many.”

I don’t have the same symptoms as others with celiac, so I must be fine.

Never assume that you are fine because you don’t have the same issues after ingesting gluten as someone else with celiac. As Arshad Malik, MD, explains, “Celiac disease can present itself with a myriad of symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, abnormal liver enzymes, iron deficiency anemia and recurrent migraine headaches, to name a few.” He notes that, “It’s important to test for celiac disease if there is suspicion…It’s also recommended that asymptomatic first-degree relatives of patients with confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease get tested.”

I’ll give up gluten for a few months and see how I feel instead of getting tested for celiac.

You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by seeing how your body reacts, but you can’t accurately diagnose yourself this way. “Beginning a gluten-free diet without appropriate testing isn’t recommended,” Malik says. “This is because the symptoms of celiac disease can be nonspecific, and blood work or a biopsy of the small intestine is essential to make the diagnosis.”


The gluten-free diet will help me lose weight.

Malik weighs in to put this myth to rest: “Weight loss occurs when you burn off more calories than you consume, not by avoiding gluten. Not all gluten-free foods are equally nutritious. For example, an apple and a gluten-free sugar cookie are both gluten free but vary drastically in nutritional value.”


Want to learn more about celiac and following a gluten-free diet? Read “What is Celiac Disease?” and “The Basic Gluten-Free Diet.”

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Product Roundup: Gluten-Free Snacks for Movie Night

Need some ideas for movie night munchies? Look no further! These four crave-worthy gluten-free snacks will keep you satisfied from the opening credits until “The End.”

Let’s Get It Poppin

The Little Kernel mini popcorn: What’s a movie night without popcorn? Popped in olive oil, these tiny kernels are full of big flavor. With luxurious options like Truffle Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan Salt, as well as classic seasonings like butter and white cheddar, it’s time to broaden your popcorn horizons!


Bursting with flavor

Enjoy Life Protein Bites: These tasty treats are just what you need to get the ball rolling on the perfect movie marathon. Packed with 7 grams of protein in each serving, these chewy truffle-like bites will keep you energized from a matinee all the way to a late-night showing!


Quinoa Get an Amen

I Heart Keenwah chocolate puffs: When people think of quinoa, they tend to think savory, but I Heart Keenwah’s delightful sweet treats have changed the game. Ideal for on-the-go snacking, these perfect puffs, available in Dark Chocolate Himalayan Pink Salt and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, will garner rave reviews from even the toughest critics.



Rise to the Occasion

Rise Buddy baked rice snacks: Can’t kick the chip craving? This line of rice snacks from Rise Buddy is baked rather than fried, making it a deliciously healthy movie-watching snack option. With tasty flavors like pizza and sour cream and onion, you’ll only feel like it’s a cheat day.





And for those times when you’re able to spend more time preparing movie night munchies, check out these fantastic recipes:

Avocado Sriracha Deviled Eggs

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Barbecue Kale Chips

Better-Than-Takeout Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Buckwheat Blinis with Chive Cream Cheese & Smoked Salmon

One-Bowl Brownies

Pigs in a Blanket

Quinoa Potato Poppers

S’Mores Cookies

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Celiac Disease Diagnosis: Look at the Bright Side!

For someone who has just received a gluten-sensitivity or celiac disease diagnosis, the news can be both welcome and overwhelming. With so much to learn about the gluten-free diet, it can be easy to focus on what one has to give up versus what one gains. With it being Celiac Awareness Month, May offers the chance to focus on the wonderful things that happen following a diagnosis.

Health and happiness

As Michael De Cicco-Butz knows well, the most important gain a diagnosis leads to is health. Twenty years ago, after years of not feeling well, a celiac diagnosis changed his life.

Bright Side michael dcb“It was hands-down one of the best things to ever happen to me,” says De Cicco-Butz, who works as a consumer insights executive and runs the gluten-free luxury blog

“Prior to my diagnosis I was actually not well and had no idea what was going on,” says De Cicco-Butz. “I would sometimes get ill when I would eat or drink something. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to when it would happen.”

When De Cicco-Butz was diagnosed with celiac, his world completely changed. “At face value it seems obvious, but in actuality my celiac diagnosis was the most empowering experience of my life,” he explains. “It may sound strange, but it allowed me to live the life that I wanted to on my terms—not having to worry about the effects that gluten was having on my health.” Today, he travels the world and shares his gluten-free experiences—particularly with hotels, restaurants and airlines—with Gluten Free Mike’s readers.

Like De Cicco-Butz, Jules Shepard, the owner of and an advocate for the gluten-free community, also feels positively about her diagnosis in 1999. “I’m happy that I have a celiac diagnosis,” says Shepard, who, like many others, was not diagnosed right away. Physicians could not determine the cause of her symptoms or even agree on a diagnosis. Today, she feels very fortunate to have “people respect the celiac diagnosis” because, as she explains, not everyone gets that respect from those around them.

Bright Side jules shepardShepard’s diagnosis presented a chance to focus not just on eliminating gluten, but on looking at her whole diet. Before her diagnosis, she explains that she “knew where food came from, but didn’t dwell [on it].” Following the gluten-free diet, which entailed spending a lot of time reviewing ingredients and labels, got her thinking about what she was putting in her pantry and, more importantly, her body.

“My personal life [was] affected by celiac in a good way,” Shepard notes. Once on the gluten-free diet, her food awareness “skyrocketed,” leading her to become a “much healthier person” because of changes she made to her lifestyle, including eating out less and regularly cooking at home with fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

She is “thrilled to have had [her] eyes opened” to new ways of thinking about food through her celiac diagnosis, and continues to make eating healthfully a priority.

Beyond health, a diagnosis offers the chance to meet many new people and develop meaningful friendships. Often, these friendships begin with a desire to find others who understand the gluten-free diet.

Making connections

Erin Smith received a celiac diagnosis as a toddler in the early 1980s, when much less was known about celiac disease and far fewer gluten-free options were available. The challenges Smith faced have helped shape her life.

“Growing up with celiac and being a kid with celiac is hard but, in the pre-internet era where there was no communications other than your parents or your doctor, I found it really difficult,” Smith explains. Not until her teen years did she find a support group and have the opportunity to meet others with celiac. These early experiences played an important role after she graduated from college. “My whole kind of motive as an adult was to build a community that I didn’t have as a kid,” she explains.

To that end, Smith has focused on community building. First she got involved with the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group. “I wanted to socialize in Manhattan, and I wanted to drink and go out with people my age that knew what I was talking about,” she says. “And so I started going to these meetup events on a regular basis, and it was never a pity party. It was always like, ‘We are socializing and we also happen to eat gluten free.’ So that was really important for me.”

When she took over running the group, she found she received as much as she gave. “With the meetup group, you know, as much as I put into it, I got a lot out of it. I met a lot of really awesome people…that have become really good friends.” This experience solidified her desire to be an advocate within the community, and she sought out additional opportunities to inspire others through her own gluten-free experiences.

In 2007, she launched her website,, where she wrote about her gluten-free experiences and gained a large following. “I called it Gluten-Free Fun because, you know, I always just knew living life as someone with celiac who is gluten free, and I didn’t know any other way of life.” Smith never let celiac stop her, and she did not want anyone to feel left out because “there are still many things you can eat and places you can go” on the gluten-free diet. Always a proponent of gluten-free travel, she found a dearth of information on the topic.

In 2011, she launched a second site,, devoted to all things gluten-free travel. The site “shares tips of how to travel around the whole world and be gluten free.” It focuses on “cities that are more gluten-free friendly, ways to put together an itinerary so you’re not scrambling at the last minute to find places to eat” and other important details. As with everything Smith does, she is connecting with a whole new group of people through the site and expanding both her own personal community and the much larger gluten-free one.

Like Smith, Craig Pinto’s celiac diagnosis led him to pursue opportunities that have allowed him to focus on meeting new people. “I think it caused an extremely positive shift,” says Pinto of his diagnosis in 2000. He feels strongly that “just meeting the people [in the gluten-free community] along the way was a great outcome” of his diagnosis.

Pinto’s celiac diagnosis also allowed him to return to football, where for several years he was the field goal kicker for the New Jersey Revolution indoor/arena football team. “I was able to play sports again, and in playing sports I was able to meet new people,” he explains.

When traveling with the team, he often received questions about why he ate differently. “Ultimately,” he explains of his team travels, “they all ended up being good chances to educate” his teammates and anyone he met about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.

Between making inroads in the community and through football, Pinto found that he enjoyed reaching out to other people and focusing on education. This ended up significantly affecting his life, when he started wondering “how can I make this into something that I can work at every day?”

Pinto became interested in making a difference through the nonprofit world, where he currently spends a great deal of his time both professionally and personally. He served as president of the National Celiac Disease Society, a nonprofit formerly known as the Kicking 4 Celiac Foundation that focuses on raising celiac awareness. Through the organization, he worked on community programming and also helped provide high school seniors with scholarships to help them defer the costs of the gluten-free diet.

Just like starting over

When it comes to looking at the additions to one’s life following a diagnosis, De Cicco-Butz says, “I like to say that my life started again when I was handed my diagnosis. Being able to hit the reset button was something that I am truly thankful for, because I finally was able to experience a new normal, and being normal has, quite literally, never felt so good.”

Want to learn more about celiac and following a gluten-free diet? Read “What is Celiac Disease?” and “The Basic Gluten-Free Diet.”

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What is Gluten Sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is a condition that causes a person to react after ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

Symptoms vary widely and can include gastrointestinal problems, joint pain, fatigue and depression. The same symptoms are associated with celiac disease, so it’s important to get the correct diagnosis.

The first step toward diagnosis

According to the experts, gluten sensitivity should only be diagnosed after first ruling out wheat allergies, celiac disease and gluten ataxia, using blood and other tests that can pinpoint those recognized disorders. Second, diagnosis should include testing for AGA antibodies in the blood, though these are not always present. Third, there should be improvement in symptoms on a gluten-free diet.

A real condition

Though researchers are looking for biomarkers that would definitively diagnose gluten intolerance, they have not yet come up with a specific test. Still, gluten intolerance has been recognized as a real condition, after many years of being ignored by the medical community. In fact, gluten sensitivity has its own category in a list of gluten-related disorders recently created by a group of international celiac disease experts.

Scientists from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment have also found that gluten sensitivity is a bona fide condition, distinct from celiac disease, with its own intestinal response to gluten. Although gluten-sensitive patients have the diarrhea, abdominal pain and other symptoms suffered by those with celiac disease, they do not have the intestinal inflammation, flattening of the absorbing villi or long-term damage to small intestine that characterizes untreated celiac disease.

Gluten sensitivity and celiac

Researchers found differences between celiac and gluten sensitivity in intestinal permeability and genes regulating the immune response in the gut. Intestinal permeability is the ability of the mucosal layer of the digestive tract to prevent bacteria, antigens, and undigested food proteins from seeping through the gastrointestinal barrier. Those who have celiac often have a high degree of permeability, sometimes called a leaky gut, but the study found that was not the case in those who are gluten sensitive.

Currently, the only treatment for gluten intolerance is following a gluten-free diet, which excludes all wheat, barley, rye and cross-contaminated oats.

About 6 percent of the U.S. population, or about 18 million people, have gluten sensitivity, according to the celiac center, compared to 1 percent who have celiac disease.

This material is not intended to provide medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.

Related Articles

Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity Is Real

The Basic Gluten-Free Diet

Ingredients Index

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SPONSORED: Gluten-Free Online Store

Conte’s Pasta Company in Vineland, New Jersey, is the industry leader in gluten-free pasta and pizza manufacturing. Over the years, Conte’s has been distributed across the U.S. and Canada. Now their range of products from homemade family recipes can be delivered right from their facility to your front door in custom bundles of 3, 6, 8, and 10!

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SPONSORED: Pillsbury Gluten Free Muffins—what you’ve been looking for!

If you’re living a gluten-free lifestyle and have been searching for a moist homestyle muffin bursting with flavor, our Pillsbury Gluten-Free Muffins are exactly what you’ve been looking for!

The ready-to-eat muffins are individually wrapped for on-the-go convenience and certified gluten free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. Sold in packages of four and available in Blueberry or Chocolate Chip, they can be found in grocers’ all-natural freezer cases.

Our Pillsbury Gluten-Free Fruit Tart will please everyone at your gathering–whether they need to avoid gluten or not.


  • 8 Pillsbury™ Gluten Free Ready to Eat Muffins, Blueberry or Chocolate Chip (2 7-0unce boxes)
  • 3 Tbsp. gluten-free butter or margarine
  • 1 cup gluten-free vanilla frosting (prepared or homemade)
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges, well drained
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • 12 medium or large strawberries, rinsed and dried (1 whole for center)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


  1. Blend 8 Pillsbury Gluten Free Muffins in a food processor (or break apart by hand in a mixing bowl) until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Add melted margarine and blend well, forming a thick dough.
  3. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough ball on cookie sheet and press evenly into a flat circle about 9 inches wide.
  4. Bake crust for 15-17 minutes, until firm and lightly browned.
  5. Let crust cool completely. Using a metal spatula to help, very gently slide crust from cookie sheet to serving platter (or the crust can be baked on an oven-safe serving plate, avoiding this step).


  1. Spread 1 cup gluten-free frosting over cooled crust, leaving about ½ inch unfrosted at the edge.
  2. Place a whole strawberry in the center of the crust, and begin laying fruits in concentric circles, working your way outward (see photo for an example) until you reach the edge of the frosting.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve

To find more tasty recipes like this, visit our web-site and click on our Product Recipe page

© General Mills.  Pillsbury is a trademark of General Mills, used under license

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