A reader contacted me the other day with a common dilemma: she had gone gluten-free (with great results), but now she wanted an official diagnosis of celiac disease. What should she do?
Interestingly, her physician had told her that celiac testing had improved so much, she didn't need to go back to a gluten-containing diet for it to be accurate. This is a common misconception, even among doctors (who really ought to know better). Regardless of what anyone tells you, you need to be eating gluten for any testing (celiac or gluten sensitivity) to show true results.
For more on this, see: Why do I need to eat gluten for celiac disease testing?
Nope, getting a diagnosis once you've started the gluten-free diet involves eating gluten again in the form of what's called a "gluten challenge" ... and while some people sail through their gluten challenges with minimal symptoms, others find it so miserable that they can't finish. (Your level of symptoms has absolutely nothing to do with whether you'll ultimately test positive or negative.)
For more on this, see: What's involved in a gluten challenge?
Ultimately, I could help the reader with information on what would be involved in getting a diagnosis, but I couldn't help her make her decision -- there's no right or wrong answer. Everyone in this situation needs to balance their "need to know" against the symptoms they might experience in their effort to get that official diagnosis.
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Photo © Getty Images/Jonnie Miles