Does Living Gluten Free Affect our Quality of Life?

{ When following a strict gluten free diet, how do we prepare ourselves for the emotional and social effects? Is it actually possible to stay 100% gluten free and safe without affecting our quality of life? }

“Can I have this gluten free? Free from cross-contamination from wheat, barley, rye, malt and oats? And will you please change your gloves, wash your hands, use new utensils, toast on the grill on foil, check labels for ‘may contain’ statements, flash fry in a pan versus deep fry, tell me an alternative to any item you’re unsure about and pretty please assure me that this meal is 100% gluten free and safe for me to consume?” Does this sound like you at a restaurant? It can be quite overwhelming but each one of those questions is critical to staying safe when dining out!

Being on a 100% gluten free diet for life is a daily battle. It means understanding what foods are and aren’t safe, checking labels everywhere you go, learning hidden sources of gluten, making sure your food isn’t being cross contaminated with gluten in a fryer or toaster and doing endless research before dining outside of your own house. With that in mind, it may not be a surprise that those on an extremely strict gluten free diet have been shown to have a lower quality of life than those who are more relaxed. Let’s check out the stats and facts and figure out how to reduce anxiety around food.

A recent study on Hypervigilance to a Gluten Free Diet and Decreased Quality of Life completed by Columbia University* showed that extreme gluten free vigilance can cause symptoms such as anxiety and fatigue. The study participants with the highest quality of life were vigilant but not hypervigilant.

Dining out is definitely one of those times when you want to be vigilant – not hypervigilant. Hypervigilance does not make for a relaxed evening! After asking all the necessary questions, try taking digestive enzyme, GluteGuard. GluteGuard is a natural enzyme supplement that breaks down inadvertently ingested gluten before it interacts with your intestinal lining. This scientific evidence-based product is an additional step that can help you stay safe and avoid the effects of cross contamination when socialising or travelling. Please know that GluteGuard is a tool to manage your gluten free diet but not to replace it. It is a safeguard in case something goes awry and it helps provide peace of mind when travelling.

The hypervigilance article* urges interventions that promote strict adherence to a gluten free diet AND maximise quality of life. Be sure you’re receiving the emotional and social support necessary for those who require a strict gluten free diet. Any additional steps you can take to reduce anxiety in daily life will increase your quality of life. Ask your medical professional for help with tools to manage the mental and psychological impacts of this lifestyle change. The article recommends regular visits to a registered dietitian nutritionist with additional strategies like a gluten sensor monitor. If you find you have energy to spare, you might like to develop your personal self-advocacy skills to increase public understanding of what it really means to be on a strict gluten free diet.

A similar Columbia University study published in 2012** found that participants had a significantly reduced quality of life in social settings, including travel, dining out and family life. In fact, although nearly all participants claimed to fully comply with a completely gluten free diet, a large percentage admitted to dietary indiscretions. This was largely due to the diet being too restrictive and uncomfortable in social settings. It feels quite personal when you’re the only one asking a myriad of questions before (hopefully) ordering your meal. Although these questions are necessary, calling ahead is an easy way to protect your privacy and encourage confidence when ordering. However, incidental cross-contamination is always a risk eating from any kitchen but your own. And possibly also in your own kitchen too, with a recent Canadian study finding that 86% of participants on gluten free diets had accidentally consumed gluten over a 10-day period. This is where additional steps like taking GluteGuard before a meal can help you stay confident. Interestingly, the study found that the earlier in life the participant was diagnosed, the less of a long-term impact on their quality of life**. If you know gluten problems run in your family, this is a great incentive to get testing done early in life!

Maintaining a strict 100% gluten free diet can have a potential negative impact on your quality of life. In fact, one study found that approximately 25% of those on medically required gluten free diets did not dine out at all in years 2-5 following their diagnosis.** Fortunately, there are ways to protect your mental health in addition to your physical health to ensure your social and family life remains strong. Be sure to have a strong community, book regular follow ups with a registered dietitian nutritionist, call ahead before dining out and take dietary enzyme GluteGuard before your meal to protect against any inadvertently ingested gluten. By knowing what tools you have on hand to keep yourself safe, you can breathe a bit easier and start dining out and travelling once more.


*Wolf, R.L., Lebwohl, B., Lee, A.R. et al. (2018) Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 63: 1438.

**Lee A.R., Ng D.L., Diamond B., Ciaccio E.J. & Green P.H.R. (2012) Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 25, 233–238. doi:10.1111/j.1365-277X.2012.01236.x

*** Silvester, J. A. et al. (2018) Gastroenterology, Volume 154, Issue 6, S-130


This article is sponsored by Glutagen. Please note, we only work with brands we support and use ourselves. All tips and suggestions, along with our recommendation of any product, are genuine from yum. Gluten Free.

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