Defining your level of gluten intolerance or sensitivity is a critical piece of the puzzle for maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle. If you have been tested positive for gluten intolerance or celiac disease, your tolerance to gluten is medically zero and there can be no deviation from the diet without producing a negative gluten response in your body. However, even if you have celiac disease, you must still determine your “reaction threshold” because, while trying to avoid gluten all the time as a prescription, some accidental ingestion of gluten traces might happen.
For example, based on how you feel after an incident of cross contamination with gluten in a restaurant, you will quickly realize exactly how vigilant you must be in avoiding the cross contamination possibility the next time you dine out. You’ll also need to establish for yourself whether you can eat gluten-free products manufactured in a facility that also produces wheat products, or if your level of intolerance requires that you eat gluten-free products manufactured only in a 100 percent gluten-free environment. Your body will tell you when you’ve crossed the tolerance line.
If you are gluten intolerant but do not have celiac disease, you may be able to get away with a little more trace contact with gluten than someone with celiac disease. You may be able to eat the top layer of a piece of pie (gluten-free filling) from the crust, but not be too worried should you ingest a few small crumbs of the crust. Find your limits and let them guide your decisions.
On the other hand, if you are only sensitive but not intolerant to gluten, your reaction-threshold will not be as severe as with the other two cases. Your level of sensitivity is based on your personal experience in consuming gluten and should be used to determine how much gluten you allow into your life.