Friday, January 7, 2011

The Gluten Thing

I recently have had a spate of people asking me about going gluten free for one reason or another. Several of the derby ladies had been asking about it as well, so I wrote this short summery. It's geared more towards my derby girls, but it's simple enough for anyone to use.

Being & Eating Gluten Free

Being gluten free is easy as long as you do a little reading and homework! The obvious thing about a gluten free diet is you no longer get to eat bread, or any other wheat containing product. The non obvious thing about a gluten free diet is all the places that gluten can hide!!
Gluten is a component in in wheat, oats, barley, and rye, but is also contained in bulgur, Durham, farina, matzo meal, spelt, and semolina. If you have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, your body can’t digest the gluten and it coats the stomach and small intestine lining, causing damage and inhibiting the absorption of nutrients and minerals needed by our bodies to function normally. People with a gluten sensitivity often are diagnosed with IBS, GI difficulty, or other Gastrointestinal problem. It wasn’t until recently that Gluten allergies were studied at length! Now that more is known on the subject, more can be done to avoid the gluten containing foods that give gluten allergy sufferers miserable symptoms.

The Bad News

Beer is off limits. Malted beverages are off limits too, so if you had a Schlitz Malt liquor addiction, this is your excuse to go on the wagon. Also, any cookies, crackers, pasta, processed lunch/deli meets, gravy mixes, salad dressings, imitation sea foods, etc are also out. Gluten can also sneak it’s way onto and into your food by way of artificial flavor agents and food starches. And example of this would be a bag of potato chips that has been flavored with sour cream & chive flavoring powder. The chips are ok, the flavoring is BAD! Also, most specialty stores will charge you an arm and a leg for hard to find, gluten free foods and products. There can also be gluten in products such as tooth pastes, lip balms, and medications and vitamins if said products use gluten as a binding agent or preservative. Sneaky SOB’s. aren’t they?

The Good News

Now that the medical community is embracing the Gluten Allergy, many main stream food companies are as well. Gluten free foods are becoming more readily available in supermarkets and chains like Super Target, Super Wal-Mart, and Publix. Natural and Organic retail giant, Whole Foods is also a huge source of gluten free options, but they are really pricy. Brands like Betty Crocker are also putting out gluten free versions of their popular baked goods mixes as well. Gluten free breads are also becoming more available, as well as pastas. WINE is GOOD!! Most liquors that are not distilled from grains are ok too.

The Diet Part

Basically, if you can cut out bread and pasta, you are half way there. It’s the “5 Servings of Grain” in that food pyramid that gets us! It shows pretty pictures of slices of bread, bowls of pasta and while that is all well and good for most of the population, going gluten free means you have to substitute something else for those servings. As said before, there are several pastas available that are gluten free. These are usually made from corn, rice, quinoa, or a combination of gluten free grains. The gluten free breads are also made from these grains, but if you are trying to cut down on carbs as well as gluten, just axe the bread and pasta all together! There are plenty of options for someone going gluten free. My daughter and I like to call it our “Steak & Potato” diet! Fresh meats, fresh veggies, fresh fruits, rice and potatoes are all you need to comprise a healthy diet. You can also have most fresh dairy products as well. (Check sour creams and coffee flavorings. Some use the wheat preservative.) All you have to do is turn the product over and look at the label. Most labeling has to disclose any allergy containing ingredients, like wheat, soy, nuts, etc…. If the label doesn’t clearly display the allergy warnings, just read the ingredient list looking for gluten containing items.


The Rest

One small thing…. If you have never gone gluten free before, you may want to get a gluten free multi vitamin to go along with your new diet. Many products are enriched with extra vitamins and minerals, but most of those are the cereals and grains that gluten allergy sufferers are cut off from. You may want to consult a nutritionist to check out what you’re doing and make sure your gluten free diet covers all your bases. A gluten free diet is a healthy diet, but as with any kind of change in eating, you should consult a physician to make sure everything is ok for you to go ahead and make the switch over. I personally started going gluten free when it was discovered that 3 generations of my family have been suffering from Celiac’s Disease. My mother, myself, and my daughter all have the gluten allergy gene. It was frustrating to try and switch to an all gluten free diet, but with the advances in food research and the new availability in more gluten free food items to the market, making the decision to go gluten free for your health is easier than ever. Good luck.

1 comment:

Russ said...

Hey thanks! I've recently adopted a grain free diet (mostly, I do take a cheat day every so often). It has made a difference in how I feel. I may not have had a full blow allergy, but it wasn't doing me any favors.