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Sorry for the ramble. I just never came across anyone who didn't have a binary attitude towards it.... I think I am merely gluten sensitive/intolerant vs a full-blown celiac.

No apologies needed. Or accepted ;-). But I do want to clear up a few points. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease aren't different points on the same spectrum. They are two completely different health problems. Gluten intolerance is a local reaction to gluten that is confined to the intestines, and produces a local inflammatory reaction that impairs the ability of the villi--the little finger-like structures that absorb nutrients from digested food and pass them to the bloodstream--to do their job effectively. It also creates symptoms like gas, bloating, discomfort or pain. And hearing you--headaches. What I experience, and the intensity, depend on how much gluten I've had. And one thing that also happens to me if I do a significant cheat is that my legs get incredibly tired. Initially I had thought it was just my gut that was affected, based on how calm it became and how much better I felt about a week and a half into my 2-week gluten-free trial. And based on a high-gluten content meal I had about 2 months later, because there was nothing else to eat (wow, that was painful!). It was when I had to go back on gluten for 2 weeks to be tested for celiac disease that I discovered what happens to my legs. We have stairs in our apartment and boy, that became an effort.

Celiac disease is a systemic condition, because it's an autoimmune disease. The body produces antibodies to certain molecules that make up gluten, but the problem is that the intestinal lining contains some molecules that are so similar that these antibodies can't tell the difference--and the attack the intestinal lining too. This severely damages the villi, although they can recover if gluten is completely withdrawn. It takes 6-8 months in a younger person, and up to 2 years in someone older. But if gluten is not withdrawn, in addition to the unpleasant physical symptoms, there is serious malnutrition because of the malabsorption, significant anemia will eventually develop, and there is a high risk of intestinal cancer and certain leukemias. And that's why celiac patients can't cheat, but you and I can.

And one other area that's affected with some celiac patients--and often the only area with symptoms--and that's the skin. People who get an itchy rash and/or blisters when they eat gluten.....that's a type of celiac disease, although many people, including doctors, don't realize this.

The reason that I had to go back on gluten for 2 weeks before the blood test to see how serious, or not, my gluten problem is, is because I had been off gluten for several months, which is enough time for antibodies--if I had been producing them--to have disappeared. So if I'd been celiac, the blood test would have given me a false negative. If I had been celiac, then eating a sufficient daily gluten load for 2 weeks would have restored my antibody levels to detectable levels.

I can't get away with eating breads and crackers and pastries etc with gluten-containing grains. (During those 2 gluten weeks, I couldn't believe how lousy I felt.) I can eat certain pastas from time to time--the ones made with 00 flour at the Italian pasta place down the street from me. And when I still (rarely) do some baking, that's the flour I use. And I do okay with my lightly breaded chicken cutlets, though for the flour dip before the egg coating, I now use a mix of chickpea and coconut flour instead of white wheat flour.

Thanks for the GF flour and graham cracker-like recommendations. I get 2 pancake mixes, one breakfast type and one savory (great with spicy veggies in them). I've found some very nice GF breads and crackers. And btw.....I'd suggest instead of vitacost. I've switched over totally, for supplements, some personal products, and some food and household cleaning products. Not only a fabulous selection, but with the increasing discount as your total increases, and the free shipping past a very modest total amount, it not only matches or betters in price, but you KNOW your package will be shipped out the next day and arrive in 1-3 days. I got totally disgusted with vitacost, because an order would arrive anywhere from 2-10 days. I complained to them once, telling them I'd switched because of it, and the answer was yes we know it's a problem, and we're trying to improve.

I also have several pretty good health food stores fairly close by, 2 with nice discounts.

Anyway....lucky you that you can still eat regular bread and pastries! Giving up good spelt bread, and English muffins, and my pasta place's pappardelle cut pasta.....tough tough tough!

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