hemhawseesaw

The ups, downs, and runarounds of Celiac Disease and food sensitivities

Archive for the tag “cross-contamination”

What IS gluten-free?

Let’s just say that if I can’t give you a straight answer, then Ask.com will likely fail as well. We could just leave it at wheat-, rye-, barley-, oat-free, but can anything really be guaranteed to be free of traces? I mean, carrots grown in a field with none of the gluten grains around, harvested in a designated… harvester? Processed in a facility and on a line that has never seen the light (or dark) of gluten, packaged in a facility sans gluten- THAT is truly gluten-free. Bread, cookies, crackers, chips, sauces, soups, GF flours etc. that say “gluten-free” mean (if you’re lucky and they’re certified by GIG or another organization) a random sample of the product tested at less than 20 ppm of gluten. And oh do you hope the ELISA or other testing mechanism was accurate, and that you scored one of the loaves that was 20ppm and not one of the ones that wasn’t tested but is higher, and that you aren’t one of those Celiacs with hypersensitivity to levels below the 20 ppm limit (AHEM). Now, absolutely “gluten-free” for a Celiac is not as critical as “peanut-free” for someone with a deathly allergy to peanuts, yet it is still frustrating that “gluten-free” typically means “includes microscopic amounts of gluten.” I still don’t know what to make of labels stating “packaged/processed on a line/in the same facility as wheat” because this is discretionary, say-so-if-you-want-to, totally unregulated disclosure. So if one package sports this statement, it may or may not be safer than a package that does not even make an allergy statement. By law, wheat must be disclosed on the ingredients list, but not rye, barley, or oats. And I could go on… So, what IS gluten-free, you ask? What a rhetorical question!

Update: Check out what this apropos post has to say about gluten cross-contamination with fresh fruits n veggies (and try not to get too paranoid).

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Review of Whole Foods Gluten-Free Day

I arrived a bit late to Whole Foods’ Gluten-Free Day, so I missed the talk about gluten-free baking. I wasn’t all that concerned, as one quickly becomes acquainted with flour and baking substitutions, brands, and the major recipe websites from necessity. I was, however, excited to sample some of the speaker’s baked treats spread out on the table. I thank stars that I thought to verify that they were prepared in a designated kitchen, which I thought would be an obvious “yes”. HA! They answer was a resounding “no”- the speaker bakes both gluten and gluten-free goods in the same kitchen, with the same equipment, without waiting for flour to settle. So that meant I saved my treats for my friends who were on their way… I know it’s a common mistake to think that baking with gluten-free flours is all that’s required for a Celiac to eat safely, but I was taken aback that a schedule speaker at an organized event would get it so wrong, particularly as Whole Foods themselves have a designated factory for gluten-free food production (FYI in case you hadn’t heard or dealt with it yourself, gluten-containing flour takes 24 hours to settle. Aluminum bakeware is nearly impossible to cleanse of gluten residue. Mixers harbor flour in their vents. Oven mitts hang on to crumbs unless washed. And the list goes on…)

Next up was sampling, which I knew was perhaps not the best of ideas coming off of a failed elimination diet, but shoot some days my taste buds want gratification regardless of my gut. I tried some chicken nuggets, deliciously moist baked goods, animal crackers, ginger snaps, and damn good beer. I also enjoyed some Whole Foods brand cupcakes and almond scones. I consider these things to be treats ONLY, never regular fare. They contain too many gums and starches and things that land me in the even muckier mess I’m in today. But ahh the taste…

The last portion of the “day” (or 4 hours) was a strange talk by an ayurvedic practitioner. He kept having to refer to a piece of paper to list gluten-free protein sources (and never mentioned quinoa- shocking!) and made claims about the high protein content of seaweed. He did present a compelling argument for healing the inflammation that remains after removing gluten, and treating the whole person. I was a sucker for this sort of talk because I’m in that exact boat of persistent, life-meddling symptoms. After the talk, I spoke with him individually, but he never quite gave me a definitive run-down of what I could do or what exactly he would recommend (“it’s so complicated”). He did recommend gargantuan levels of D3 and neem (which is a little riskier than he made it out to be). I wanted to be sold and hand over $150 for a consultation, but then again I just felt a little doubtful about the whole thing- having my face and tongue “read”, figuring out my dominant energy (I did it online, and the recommendations include wheat and dairy HA!), and talking the nebulous feel-good talk. I looked him up online, and his website lists people he was studied under, but does not list affiliations or specific training. I spoke at length with an acquaintance about seeing a chiropractor/ND who tests for candida overgrowth (she eats only meat and non-starchy vegetables to keep yeast at bay- exciting diet prospect…), but I’m also wary of this because we ALL have yeast in us, tests may not discriminate between good and bad yeast, and the practitioner in question has marketed a dietary supplement which I’m guessing he pushes on all patients. I am, however, seriously considering an integrative medicine clinic with practitioners who are registered dieticians and doctors. Clearly allopathic medicine hasn’t helped me, but I’m not quite ready to fork over big bucks to someone who doesn’t have a certificate or proof of training and who’s just as biased towards supplements as doctors are towards medications of their choosing.

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