I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac disease for about 7 years. So, I know my way around a grocery store. I know what I can and cannot buy, in general, and typically stick with those items. If I don’t know about an item, I look it up right there in the store. But, I remember my first trip to the grocery store after diagnosis because I cried in the health food section.
I was in the health food section because I believed that only the crazy “health” food nuts, weird vegans, and those wacky gluten free folks shopped in that section. I was now one of the wacky gluten free folks. I looked at all of the unusual brands and products like Bob’s Red Mill, egg replacer, and brown rice pasta and it felt completely alien to me. Like I was only going to be able to shop in this area and my life was over.
I broke down crying in the grocery store at 2 in the afternoon. I was sad because I would no longer be able to eat the same diet I grew up eating. My comfort foods were gone – breads, pastas, fried chicken, tomato soups, soy sauce, cookies, and more – all of it gone with a single phone call from the doctor. I was a mess.
Over time, I have learned the health food aisle isn’t the only place we can shop in the grocery store. It is true that out of about 25,000 products in a grocery store only about 1,000 of them are gluten free and half of those are fruits and vegetables. So, our options are limited, but a complete, healthy, and fun diet can be achieved.
I’m not your doctor, but eating a a whole foods diet is recommended for everyone. It is a little easier for us to eat healthy. We can’t eat the really bad crap because most of it has gluten. For the most part, eating whole fruits and vegetables, and proteins isn’t bad. An occasional treat – like an entire bag of gluten free cookies won’t kill you, but I wouldn’t recommend it everyday. Whole foods should be a major part of all of our diets.
We all know that most gluten free substitutes are full of fat and sugar to replace the gluten and sometimes contain gluten. If you eat enough gluten free substitutes, a gluten reaction could occur. A product may have a small amount of gluten but in large quantities its enough to set off a reaction. Also, all of that processed food isn’t really good for you anyway – gluten free or not. Gluten Dude has a great post about how eliminating gluten free processed foods helped him feel better.
We have to be constantly vigilant because food marketers are there to make money not keep up safe. There are lots of products that are labelled gluten free that really aren’t. Unless it is certified gluten free, you should ALWAYS read the labels.
Here’s an example of how easy it is to mess up. One of the big celiac groups has recently been talking about how grits are great option for us. They are. I love them. The Italians call it polenta. In my house, we call polenta Italian grits. I grew up in the South, so I can eat some grits.
I just bought a new bag of grits because of their recommendation. It wasn’t labelled on the front gluten free, but I thought, hey, ground dried corn should be naturally gluten free, right? WRONG! On the ingredients panel it said, “May contain wheat.” So, the whole bag went in the trash. I bought another brand. It too has given me some trouble but doesn’t have the same allergen warning. It may have to go in the trash too. 😦 Read every label, every time.
Because the data in food allergen scanner apps are all user entered, they are not accurate. Someone could have put information in about a food item from six months ago that the product was safe. Then the manufacturer changed the recipe and made it not gluten free. The scanner app may or may not be updated. Read every label, every time.
The bottom line is you have to research the company and products you are buying. If you are not 100% confident that the product you are buying is 100% gluten free, then put it back. No need to risk your health. You can do the research at home if you need some more information.
I’ve got a couple of other posts I’ve been researching and thinking about regarding food. Here’s the list: meat glue, GMO wheat to remove gluten proteins, wheat processed to remove gluten, broth injected into chicken breasts, items labelled gluten free but really aren’t, and links to a few recipes.
I’ve been babbling on about this for too long today – I’ll write more in a different post later.