The Difference Between Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity


You don't have to look hard to find 'gluten-free' food labels when you're at the grocery store or dining out. They're kind of ubiquitous these days. There's gluten-free bread, pasta, pastries, and cereal. And even foods that don't contain gluten might be packaged with labels that say "may contain gluten" because they were exposed to gluten somewhere in the manufacturing process

Is it just a dietary fad, or is there more to it than just a craving for gluten-free foods? Think about it this way.

Dr. Alessio Fasano is the leading expert on gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease in the United States. He's the director for the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. And he estimates 20 million people in the United States have a sensitivity to gluten. Another 3 million have Celiac disease.

That's a lot of people...what's the difference between a gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease? Here's how Registered Dietitian Natalie Butler explains it:

Gluten sensitivity

"A person with sensitivity to gluten might experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, and fatigue after consuming gluten," says Butler. "Eliminating gluten from the diet may improve these symptoms."

Celiac disease

"This is an autoimmune disorder in which an intolerance to gluten can damage the small intestine, leading to intestinal damage, poor nutrient absorption, and physical pain," Butler says. "Some people with celiac disease do not have any symptoms."

Wondering if you have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease? Ask your doctor about the screening and testing process to find out. In the meantime, adjust your diet to avoid or limit gluten by choosing your favorite meals from our Gluten-Free menu. These meals aren't certified as gluten-free, but many of our customers who must avoid gluten have enjoyed these meals for years without complications.