Gluten Intolerance: What You Need to Know

Gluten Intolerance, or Gluten Sensitivity, is often dismissed as a made-up label someone gives themselves when they prefer to eat gluten-free. Most restaurants have made a noticeable attempt to prepare safe food for those with Celiac Disease, but there still seems to be this lingering skepticism for those stating they have a Gluten Intolerance. Is it because celebrities and media have perpetuated the belief that eating a gluten-free diet is merely a weight loss program? Or is it because people still don’t understand or respect Celiac Disease, and so presume Gluten Intolerance is its imaginary friend?

I think it’s a little bit of both.

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten Intolerance is when you’ve experienced similar symptoms as those with Celiac Disease, but you have tested negative for the Celiac antibodies. Recently, they have relabeled gluten intolerance as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (or NCGS.) There is no test to confirm NCGS, or Gluten Intolerance.

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance or NCGS include:

  • mental fatigue (known as “brain fog”)
  • fatigue
  • gas, bloating, and abdominal pain
  • headache
  • canker sores in mouth

The above list for Gluten Intolerance is almost identical to symptoms of Celiac Disease.

Where does Celiac Disease Differ from Gluten Intolerance?

Celiac disease is “an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.” (

Left untreated, Celiac Disease can lead to additional serious health problems, including the development of other autoimmune disorders, such as:

  • Type I diabetes
  • multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash)
  • anemia
  • osteoporosis
  • infertility and miscarriage
  • neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines
  • short stature
  • intestinal cancers

Celiac Disease can be diagnosed through a blood test followed by an endoscopic biopsy. It is believed that the major difference between Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance is those with Gluten Intolerance do not experience a higher risk of intestinal cancer due to damage to their small intestine. 

What is Gluten?

People often assume Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance is synonymous with “wheat allergy” but it’s so much more than just wheat. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale.  Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is mainly found in breads, pastas, cereals, cookies, cakes, sauces, dips, beer, and crackers; however, gluten is also snuck into many unexpected processed foods as a filler, binder, and stabilizer. (

Work With A Health Professional

I am a certified health coach candidate who specializes in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance (NCGS), food allergies, and autoimmune diseases. If you suddenly find yourself needing to eat gluten-free, I can walk you through this confusing and overwhelming time. It is my goal to help you feel confident in your new lifestyle.

I would love to chat with you on a FREE 20 minute consult to see if my program is the right fit for you. We can meet in-person, or via FaceTime or Zoom.

Click here to request a meeting!

To see my 4 Tips for what to do after receiving the diagnosis of Celiac Disease, please click here.


Meridith Oram
Meridith Oram is an ACE-Certified Health Coach at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image. She is also the creator of Gain Wellness, a 5-week behavioral change program to unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *