Nearly three years ago, after a serious car accident, I began having serious lower intestinal issues whenever I ate. After a while, I sought the help of my doctor who ran me through a barrage of tests, one of which was a celiac panel. All came back negative. So I was given a couple of prescriptions and a diagnosis for IBS. When the meds I was given failed to have any real effect on me, I saw a specialist who took a look at my celiac panel and declared that while I didn’t have the celiac disease (that much was very true), I was still “gluten intolerant.” My regular doctor back pedaled by saying I had a “false negative” test – while my specialist said that there are no “false negatives” there are only doctors who don’t know how to order or read the test.
Apparently I’ve been gluten intolerant my whole life and the stress related to my accident exasperated my gluten intolerance symptoms which, until that time, had been fairly dormant. No more wheat, rye or barley I was told. For a little while, I about starved because I didn’t know what to do, let alone how this would effect our emergency preparedness plans. But he was right, my worst symptoms disappeared within days of ditching the gluten and other symptoms (like fatigue and anemia), took a little longer to go away but within a year I was back to my normal healthy self.
Quick Review of Gluten Intolerance and Celiac – It’s Important to Know the Facts
Celiac Disease is “villous atrophy” (the little finger like structures in your small intestines that absorb nutrients have become short and blunted due to your own immune system attacking it) triggered by gluten intolerance, however, it is NOT “gluten intolerance”. Celiac Disease results in an autoimmune reaction (where your immune system attacks the body as opposed to the gluten).
Non-celiac “Gluten Intolerance” is when you don’t have villous atrophy yet, but you still have problems triggered by gluten. “Gluten intolerance” is an immune reaction to the gluten. Both of the reactions for Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance involve IgA and/or IgG antibodies in your body reacting to Gliadin. Gliadin is part of the gluten protein that is present in wheat and several other cereals, such as rye and barley.
“Lactose Intolerance” is also different from ‘gluten intolerance.’ When you are lactose intolerant, you are missing an enzyme you need to digest ‘lactose (a sugar)‘ in milk. So when you consume a dairy product, it digests very poorly. Gluten Intolerance is an Immune Reaction. They are VERY DIFFERENT.
A “Wheat Allergy” is also not the same thing as ‘gluten intolerance’. Wheat allergies are even more difficult to diagnose, as your standard ‘celiac panel’ doesn’t even cover that one. Although the symptoms can be very similar to ‘gluten intolerance’, they are two different medical conditions – someone with a ‘wheat allergy’ may eat products like Rye Bread which has plenty of gluten in it, and be just fine . A more in depth ‘food allergy’ blood test for IgA, IgG, and also IgE antibody levels to gluten and also to wheat would need to be performed to pinpoint that one.
Gluten Free Prepping
We make almost all of our own food from scratch, to eat, and to store. That way, there is no question in my mind as to whether I can eat it or not. We put many different kinds of grains in storage, not just wheat. When I do buy freeze dried food, it has to be special ‘gluten free’ food. I have also stocked up on a few extras to treat myself, in case I accidentally get into some gluten. Here are some things to prep:
- Rice: Not rice pilaf, as it contains gluten, plain white rice. We have doubled the recommended amount due to it being something I can eat and because you can grind it into flour for baking.
- Fruits and Veggies: Any fruits and veggies you put away yourself through canning and dehydrating will naturally be free of gluten and ready for you eat or make into something else.
- Beans: Besides being a great survival food, some beans also make great baking flour when ground down.
- GF Macaroni and Spaghetti Noodles: These can be purchased relatively cheaply bulk at WinCo stores, through certain co-ops, or individually through health food stores and/or specialty sections of your grocery store. Notice how I am not mentioning “Whole Paycheck” stores, aka Whole Foods, there is a reason for the nickname!
- Sorghum: Aka Milo, it is a grain can be stored whole then ground for later use as flour. Purchasing milo as a whole grain and grinding it into flour yourself is considerably less expensive than buying certified GF Sorghum Flour.
- Millet: Can also be stored as a whole grain, ground into flour, it also can be cooked up like couscous or rice.
- Buckwheat: Can be stored whole and cooked up like rice as Kasha or ground into a flour that can be used to make breads, wraps, and noodles.
- Oats: Are gluten free naturally, but are often cross contaminated as they are usually harvested and processed with the same equipment as wheat. Therefore, care needs to be taken to ensure you are purchasing certified gluten free oats for storage. You can cook oats up for oatmeal, use it in cereal, and grind it down to make oat flour.
- Corn: Dried corn can be store for long periods of time, it can be rehydrated and eaten, or ground into meal, starch or flour).
- Potatoes: Are easy to grow, can be dehydrated, canned, and they can also be made into potato starch which is often called for in gluten free cooking.
- Tortillas, store Masa Harina: Found in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store, is almost always gluten free and you can make the best tortillas out of it, by adding only water.
- Soups: We make our own by either canning it or by using dehydrated ingredients to make soup kits. But you can also purchase some for yourself see links below.
- Condensed Soups: We have a year’s supply of condensed soup in a rotating system as they are just so convenient – Pacific Foods makes several wonderful MSG free, organic, gluten free varieties.
- Meats: We use home canning as our main method for storing right now, freeze dried is just too expensive for us but it may be an option for you. (see below) We store chicken, beef, tuna, hotdogs (Oscar Meyer and Hebrew National brands are both gluten free), ham, and brats.
- GF Flour Mixes: There are a lot of these on the market now, and there is no reason why you can’t stock up some. Just keep in mind that because they are ‘pre-ground’ flour mixes that their life span is more limited than whole grain. If you freeze and re-freeze the mixes to kill any insect eggs, and seal them up properly, storing them in a cool dark place they could last 3-5 years. But ideally you would want to try to eat them before that time. As with any other supply, keep your flour mixes in a rotation. Eat the old stuff first and replace it with new stuff.
- Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum and Gelatin: Since the gluten found in wheat is missing in gluten free baking, binding agents are needed to help hold the bread together. These ingredients are handy to for anyone in case you are ever challenged with making bread or baked goods with a grain other than wheat. They turn mission impossible into mission doable. Xanthan gum is used to give the dough or batter a “stickiness” that would otherwise be achieved with the gluten. Guar Gum also helps this process and is often used in conjunction with Xanthan Gum. Plain powdered gelatin that one can find in the cooking section of the grocery store can also be added to GF breads to help achieve a “Xanthan Gum” like effect in bread. Gelatin is cheaper than Xanthan Gum and has a longer shelf life making it an affordable prepping option.
First Aid Needs – Be Prepared to handle your symptoms in case you get into gluten and can’t see a doctor:
Since symptoms vary so widely – make sure your supplies are customized to treat your symptoms.
- Imodium: Loperamide
- Pepto-Bismol: Bismuth subsalicylate
- Ibuprofen: Helps with inflammation caused by the reaction.
- Peppermint: Leaves or Tea: Helps settle your stomach and discourages diarrhea.
- Vitamin B 100: Will provide a good ‘pick me up’ after a reaction to gluten if fatigue settles in.
- Electrolytes: For rehydrating after a reaction.
Gluten Free Skills
There two really important skills that should be learned if you are a gluten free prepper. While not necessary for short term emergency preparedness, these skills will help to protect against hardship in the future and help you along your path to self -sufficiency. One: To cook from scratch with gluten free grains, and the other is: To grow your own gluten free food, beyond meats and veggies. Learning how to cook with gluten free grains is different than cooking with wheat. There is a prominent learning curve, but, with some practice, you’ll get the hang of it. It is also important to be able to do without the aid of a mixer or bread maker. This doesn’t mean you have to do it all the time, but you should at least know that you can do it if you need to. Next, find a grain that you enjoy, can cook well, and that grows well in your area (for me that’s buckwheat, others might be millet or sorghum) and learn how to grow and harvest it. Visit your local county extension office, explain to them that you would like to grow whatever grain it is that you picked out, and would like some information on it. Not only will they have information that you can use, they also may be able to sell you seeds at a discounted rate.
Here are some links to help you find some great gluten free prepping products.
http://www.azurestandard.com/ Bulk natural food store and co-op, meet all of your GF grain and bulk food requirements here.
http://www.wildernessdining.com/ Short and long term food systems, plus they have gluten free freeze dried meals for your bug out bags.
http://augasonfarms.com/ Individual and long term kits of excellent gluten free, freeze dried food, dehydrated food, and bread mixes.
http://www.freezedryguy.com/ All Natural gluten free soup mixes.
http://www.glutenfreeemergencykits.com/ Short term and long term gluten free emergency kits.
http://www.gopicnic.com Small meal packs that are good for short term storage, vehicle kits, camping, and bug out bags.
Any questions on gluten free prepping? Ask away in the comment section! I will respond to questions as soon as possible.
Links for more information about Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease.
Gluten Intolerance Explained Slideshow - Slideshow
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celiac_disease - Celiac Disease
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten_intolerance - Gluten Intolerance
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliadin - Gliadin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoimmunity - Autoimmune response
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten - Gluten