Navigating the wheat free, gluten free diet

Archive for the ‘Celiac’ Category

Help Make Gluten-free Girl Scout Cookies Happen

Earlier this year, I posted a recipe for homemade gluten-free girl scout cookies, Trefoils to be exact, that didn’t really taste like the real thing, but were an admittedly delicious substitute.  Yet all the while I was thinking of how nice and convenient it would be to bring home a box of real gluten-free girl scout cookies, along with some Thin Mints and Tagalongs for my gluten friendly pals.

Now, a troop mother in Long Island is looking to make that happen.  Her daughter, Elle, has celiac disease, and though she has sold numerous boxes of the annual treats, she’s never tasted one herself.

[Stacy] Malinow said, “When my daughter is asked what’s your favorite cookie, she has a tough time with that, because she can’t answer that. She generally says Thin Mints, because she knows she likes mint, but she’s never had the cookies.”

I think she should start answering honestly – that no cookie is her favorite because the organization doesn’t feel like there’s enough demand.  If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings as you stand there buying cookies from a girl who’s never had them, you don’t deserve them.
Malinow estimates that 131,000 girl scouts have food allergies that prevent them from eating the cookies that fund their girl scout troops activities.  Malinow has started a petition to prove the demand is there.  You can sign it here.
-Taylor
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Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month

It’s May 1, which means your rent is due.

But more importantly, it’s Celiac Disease Awareness month, and in just three days, 1 in 133 will stand up to the FDA about their laziness in setting the standard for gluten-free labels.

Wish I was going to be there to snag a slice of that enormous gluten-free cake.

This WaPo article lays out why exactly this month and this event is so important. The main reason? You could be buying “gluten-free” goods that contain more than just untraceable amounts of gluten.  Canada, Brazil and Australia are already way ahead of us on this – having set the standard at 20 parts per million, meaning a food can be labeled gluten-free if it contains less than 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 2.2 pounds of food. That’s the minimum amount of gluten that can be reliably detected.

And as much as I’m the kind of person who believes people will do the right thing, there’s always someone out there trying to prove me wrong.

In North Carolina two weeks ago, a man was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he was found guilty of buying regular breads and rolls and repackaging them as gluten-free under the name Great Specialty Products. Dozens of people complained of illness after eating the baked goods, including a woman who gave birth to a 31 / 2 pound baby prematurely, a complication that can result from celiac disease.

“We thought it was fantastic because it tasted just like real bread,” said Rebecca Fernandez of Raleigh, who gave it to her son, Malachy, who has celiac disease.

Within days, an angry rash covered the then-2-year-old’s body. “We thought maybe it was chickenpox,” Fernandez said. He ate the bread for two weeks, as the rash intensified and turned bloody, until Fernandez realized the problem and stopped giving him the bread. Malachy suffered from diarrhea for four more weeks.

And that’s why it’s time to make a decision.

-Taylor

Celiac Disease Causes Canker Sores

Did you know canker sores are a symptom of Celiac Disease? Me neither. When I found out (earlier today while reading an article about other dental issues caused by CD and continuing to procrastinate making that dentist appointment), I couldn’t make myself be surprised. Canker sores have long been a nuisance in my life. I mean, like most people I like to eat, so pretty much any time I get a canker sore (which is all the time lately), it’s a huge pain. (Really though, they hurt!)

But enough parenthetical remarks.

Celiac.com says canker sores might be the sole symptom of about 1 in 20 people with CD, so it’s worth getting tested or trying the GF diet just to see, especially because the people who participated in the study didn’t respond to canker sore medications.

And I know that those little monsters, which I’ve had a lot of lately, can also be caused by too much citrus and too much stress, both of which I’ve also had a lot of in my life lately. But I also wonder if my recurring canker sores are a sign that I may be glutening myself more than I know. So I’m trying my own elimination diet.

Eliminate the citrus? Done.

Eliminate the stress? Working on it.

If the inside of my mouth is still full of these burning white mounds of evil (okay, it’s just two a time, but still)  by my Master’s graduation on Friday, it’s time to stop eating out for a while.

We shall see!

-Taylor

Paul Seelig’s Shady Dealings Represent a Big Problem

Yesterday, the News Observer reported that Paul Seelig, the Durham man who sold glutenous bread labeled “gluten-free” to hundreds of customers at street fairs and online was sentenced to 11 years in prison for 23 counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

Seven of the reported two dozen customers who were sickened by Seelig’s goods, which were tested and found to contain high amounts of gluten, testified against him at the trial.

According to the News Observer,

Seelig’s company, Great Specialty Products, sold baked items that he claimed were homemade. Instead, witnesses including a former employee testified, he bought bread from a commercial baker in New Jersey and bagels from retailers such as Costco. He then repackaged them in his home kitchen and sold them at the State Fair, street fairs and by home delivery.

The compassionate person in me hears 11 years and thinks of that as an awfully long time for a man who sickened 24 customers that may well have been sickened any night of the week at any restaurant in town.  If we’re being honest, we all know we get sick more than we need to by taking chances.  But then I read the report that he just bought the stuff at Costco and repackaged it and I think, “That’s a crime whether you’re sickening people or not.”

It kind of reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where they refuse to believe the delicious frozen yogurt restaurant doesn’t serve fat free fro-yo like they advertise and they go to a bunch of trouble to have it tested because they’ve all gained weight.  Remember?

Anyway, the thing I think we should all take from this is that it might have been prevented had there been federal laws in place to further prevent Seelig from printing “gluten-free” on his entirely glutenful products. Does Man Who Sold Fake Gluten-free Bread Deserve 11 Years Time?

Gluten-free products sell at premium prices, but there is no federal standard for them, so Seelig’s conviction was an unusual courtroom victory for celiac sufferers, who have to rely on the honesty of food companies and restaurants that claim to produce products without gluten.

 

Would that have stopped him? Maybe not. But it might have made him think twice.

Having said that, please remember to support the 1 in 133 campaign so things like this can hopefully stop happening.

-Taylor

Food Labels Clearer but not Standardized

I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise.  I defended my Master’s Project (which involves this very blog!) on Monday, meaning I get to graduate from J-School here at UF in just a few short weeks. It’s amazing how an event like that can suck the motivation out of you right quick and replace it with an acute but bearable sense of panic.

Aaaanyway, after a couple days of relaxing and job searching and seemingly endless grading, I’m back in happy blogger mode.

First, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out the 1 in 133 campaign – aiming to standardize food labels once and for all. And since we’re on the subject of food labels, I thought I’d share an article I read from the Bellingham Herald in Bellingham, Wash. (home of the formerly fantastic indie band Death Cab for Cutie).  The original article ran in the Detroit Free Press, which I actually thought had folded. More good news!

The article approaches the topic of labeling laws in a way that we haven’t seen a lot lately, reminding us that labels are actually a lot clearer than  they used to be.

Food labeling is becoming more understandable, partly because federal law now mandates that the most common allergens be clearly listed.

The reporter, Robin Erb brings up the point that such clear labels are good for business, essentially saying, the bigger the “Gluten-free” banner, the more likely we are to buy. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members have called or texted to tell me they saw the big “gluten-free” wordage on the front of a box of Chex. On one hand it’d be great if all gluten-free foods were so loud because I (more importantly, anyone cooking for me) wouldn’t have to peer so closely down the aisles to find them. On the other hand, I’d be getting a lot more calls and texts.

But if only good comes out of these clear labels,  then why the snail’s pace when it comes to standardizing them? A string of instances in the news recently about bakers falsely labeling their products as gluten-free as me on edge as to who I can trust. Even Chex accidentally sneaks in a “Wheat” morsel from time to time.

So yes, it’s great that so many products are clearly labeled as gluten-free or, more importantly, not.  Now we need the legislation to ensure that what claims to be safe for Celiacs actually is.

-Taylor

Huffington Post Talks Gluten-free Diet

Celiac Disease has been on a pretty serious media tour lately, with the New York Times, Nightline and the Today Show all running features about it and its kid brother, gluten intolerance.  But you know CD has really hit the big time when Arianna and her gang over at the Huff Post put their own spin on in, opting to tackle the “Is gluten-free really healthier” argument.  (By the way, numerous organizations have beat them to the punch and concluded that “no, it is not” for people without gluten issues.)

I’m a fan of the Huffington Post and its often controversial/snarky/decidedly liberal fare, but I found nothing new in this article.  I realize it would be hard for someone who considers herself to be somewhat of an expert on a subject to find something new, but what I mean is, it offered nothing I haven’t heard from the other aforementioned outlets.

Maybe they’re toning down as a result of that AOL buyout.

Here was the one bit of information I found intriguing, as I’ve heard many people who try the GF diet out of curiosity attest to feeling better, but it’s not for the reason they think:

Many who go on a gluten-free diet may lose weight and feel better, but it has nothing to do with avoiding gluten. Just cutting out starchy, processed forms of carbohydrate or limiting carbohydrate intake helps with lowering insulin resistance, which leads to weight loss and improved energy.

Let’s all let out a collective, “Ohhh.”

Writer Susan B. Dopart concludes, “For the rest of us, there’s no need to follow the trends of what is currently in vogue with food manufacturers. Eating simple, unprocessed foods according to what your body can tolerate is the best way of eating.”

I, for one, hope that GF stays “in vogue” with food manufacturers for years to come, lest I go back to eating rice cakes every meal of every day.  I’ve always hated rice cakes.

-Taylor

CeliACT: Nutritional supplement for (you guessed it) Celiacs

Debuting sometime this month is a nutritional supplement specifically for people with Celiac Disease, somewhat comically named CeliACT.

According to Celiac.com, the supplement will provide all the nutritional  support Celiacs may be lacking, including

  1. Multivitamin / Multimineral Complex – The intestine of someone with celiac disease doesn’t absorb essential vitamins and minerals as well as it should. CeliAct contains high-potency nutrients that people with celiac disease need.
  2. Bone-Building Formula – One in four people with celiac disease suffers from osteoporosis, a chronic disease that results in weak and brittle bones. Another 40% of celiac patients suffer from osteopenia, a condition that results in reduced bone mass. CeliAct contains three core bone density nutrients to reduce the risk of these conditions.
  3. Intestinal Healing Blend – To repair the intestine, CeliAct contains nutrients that can help to boost and accelerate intestinal healing.
  4. Probiotic Defense Complex – Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that live in the gut, and Dr. Alessio Fasano says they might someday turn out to be a cure for celiac disease. While this therapy does not yet exist, probiotics help to eliminate bad intestinal bacteria and play an essential role in healthy digestion.
  5. Digestive Enzyme Support – Because the damaged intestine does not absorb nutrients well, CeliAct contains digestive enzymes to assist in breaking down food and release more vitamins and minerals to reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

I’ve never been one to actively seek out nutritional supplements.  I took Iron tablets and B-12 vitamins when I found that I was lacking in them, but it never became a habit.  For one, vitamins tend to make me feel nauseous.  More importantly, I’m forgetful.  But a supplement specifically designed for a disease I have – and which includes both iron and B-12 in its multivitamin complex – seems worth trying, especially as I get older.

No word yet on the price of these babies or their actual release date, but I will keep an eye out for them.

-Taylor

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