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No, Cheating on Your Gluten-Free Diet is NOT Okay

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cheat-days

If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you know how important it is to keep everything gluten out of your daily diet. It’s not easy, though. When you factor in your love for certain foods and the fact that hidden gluten ingredients exist, eliminating gluten can be a time-consuming and downright difficult process. When it comes to your health though, it has to be done.

But…

If you have a child that has celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it’s an entirely different story. Gluten still has to be avoided, but when your child cries because he or she can’t have their favorite cookies, a piece of birthday cake at a friend’s party, or some ice cream, you might be tempted to give in.

There’s one word of advice for situations like this: Don’t.

Don’t give in to your child’s pleas for a “regular” cookie, and don’t convince yourself that it’s okay for him or her to have one. Follow this for yourself, too.

It’s never okay to have “cheat days” when you’re suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

So…Why Aren’t Cheat Days Okay?

If you’ve been on a gluten-free diet for any amount of time, you should already know the answer to this question.

When you have celiac disease, gluten damages the villi in your small intestine and prevents nutrients from being absorbed. The gluten-free diet is put into action to not only keep gluten damage from occurring, but to help your gut heal, too. In those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, ingesting gluten causes varying levels of sickness. That sickness can last for days, and if you’ve been faithful to the gluten-free diet for any amount of time, you know how great being gluten-free can make you feel. So, why would you willingly make yourself miserable?

While celiac disease and gluten intolerance may be the most difficult health issues to have, they can be the easiest to manage. It’s all about food. You have to keep gluten out of your diet at all costs. Yes, cookies and birthday cake can be great treats, but there are gluten-free versions–most of which you can make right at home–that taste just as good, if not better than the regular “glutened” versions.

A happy, healthy life should be at the front of your thoughts, not whether or not you think you’ll be able to “weather the storm” after you’ve cheated on your diet.

Still Need Reasons?

  1. Noncompliant celiac sufferers have a higher risk of potentially developing lymphoma, according to a 2013 study conducted at Columbia University Medical Center. The study states that “celiac patients with persistent villous atrophy–as seen on follow-up biopsy–have an increased risk of lymphoma, while those with healed intestines have a risk that is significantly lower, approaching that of the general population.”
  2. If you continually eat gluten, you’re never going to feel healthy. Why live with constant gluten-induced migraines, bloating, and other troubles when you can rid yourselves of them by keeping gluten out of your body?
  3. Continuous gluten intake will just add to your frustration over having to deal with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Gluten intake prevents you from figuring out a gluten-free routine, which can put your frustration level through the roof.
  4. If you cheat, your child will want to. Set a good example instead and stick to the gluten-free lifestyle. You and your child can have treats–just make sure they’re gluten-free!
  5. Your friends and family are much less likely to support your gluten-free diet if you’re constantly cheating. When you choose to “just have a little” of something containing gluten, you’re showing them that you’re going to eat whatever you want. As a result, they’ll be much less likely to make gluten-free food or go to restaurants that have gluten-free menu items.
  6. Maintaining a gluten-free diet is the easiest way to help your doctor figure out what else could be wrong. If you have celiac disease and can’t stick to the diet, how will your doctor ever be able to find out? Doctors can’t rule out celiac disease or diagnose you with gluten intolerance unless you’re strictly gluten-free.
  7. When you have cheat days, you’re not letting your gut heal–it’s as simple as that. It can take anywhere from a few months to several years to heal your gut from gluten damage. Why prolong that time for a cheat day that’s just going to make you sick.
  8. The gluten-free diet is not a “fad diet” when you have celiac disease. It’s not something that you can quit because it’s too hard or because you’re just tired of dealing with it. If you truly want to feel better and heal, you have to avoid foods that contain gluten–at all costs.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that gluten-free cheat days are not okay, for you or for your child. All those foods you used to love may look and smell great. You might think you can handle the sickness you know will come after you eat them. But here’s the thing…

You don’t have to deal with the sickness at all!

Your gluten-free diet isn’t something you do for fun. It’s a necessary step to improve your health, heal your body, and, ultimately, save your life.

Are you following a strict gluten-free diet? How do you keep yourself from taking cheat days? Let us know in the comments below!

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