Gluten free living is both a diet and a lifestyle. Most of our actions are somehow related to our need to live gluten free. With this in mind, my time this week has been spent preparing a new power page “The Gluten Free Diet“.
Please check it out by using the tab at the top of the page or clicking on the link. You will be taken to what computer geeks call a ‘hub page’ and almost everyone else would call an ‘outline’ or ‘index’. There is so much information about our diet that it would be impossible to consolidate everything into a single article.
You’ll notice that some of the items in the outline are links to articles that may interest you. I am not attempting to write the articles in order and I am certainly not promising not to change the outline. What I am trying to do is make a power page that gives my visitors access to all the gluten free diet information that is available.
Here is information from eight manufacturers of gluten free foods. This information may be useful to you as you shop for gluten free food.
Arrowhead Mills / study their display of gluten free products.
Campbell’s Soup / take their printable list with you when you shop / to print, use the button in the right sidebar.
Dr. Pepper / all products are gluten free.
Hormel Foods / take their printable list with you when you shop.
Snyders of Hanover / has a long list of ‘safe’ products; unfortunately the list is not printable.
Wolfgang Puck soup / their list is printable / to print, use the link in the right sidebar.
This article is part of this website’s summary of the gluten free diet. Click here for more information.
Lower shipping costs is an important way to save money while shopping gluten free. Amazon is a major source of gluten free cookbooks and gluten free foods. They offer two shipping plans. I’ll link you pages describing the two plans so that you can make up your own mind.
♦ Amazon Prime. This provides two-day delivery for a flat yearly fee of $79. To make this offer more attractive, you are also able to download movies and television programs without charge.
♦ Standard Shipping. With a few exceptions, shipping is free on orders of more than $25. (Reminder: Amazon sells groceries by the case and books are not inexpensive. It is not difficult to make the total exceed $25 particularly if you combining orders with another person.)
I have just added seven more restaurant chains to our “Gluten Free Restaurant Meals” power page. Fifty one restaurant groups are now listed. I would guess that we now have access to at least 5oo individual restaurants. Restaurant chains have legal departments who are tasked with making sure that member restaurants do not make promises they can’t keep. These restaurant websites have made a commitment to provide ‘safe’ service.
What’s the differences among Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Gluten Sensitivity, and Wheat Allergy? I began reading on this subject because — as a gluten free writer — I felt obligated to use the terms correctly. I think I know, but my attempts to write definitions of these terms failed miserably so I decided to link you to the information. If I had medical training in this field, I might attempt written definitions. Perhaps your physician can provide a concise definition.
Here are four links. The titles I am giving you are not the same ones used in the articles. I wanted to give you the main ideas of each article
→→Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity (a video)
Even though it is almost never technically correct, I use the term ‘gluten allergy’ frequently. When I am not working on this site, I teach English as a Second Language. Many of my students are food service employees. Terms like ‘autoimmune disease’ are difficult for most Americans, particularly those whose first language is not English. On the other hand, ‘allergy to wheat, barley, and rye’ conveys a very specific message — “Don’t feed me gluten”.
A tremendous variety of gluten free crackers are available. My latest ‘find’ was “Exotic Rice Toast” manufactured by Edward and Sons in gluten free environment. First of all, they are certainly crackers rather than what we normally think of as toast. The good news is that they are relatively inexpensive and that each box contains two foil-wrapped packets each which is about right for complementing a dinner salad. They are a bit salty for my taste, but that is a minor criticism.
All products from this firm are tested to contain less than 5 parts-per-million gluten. The Edward and Son’s website includes a long and impressive list of gluten free products, a collection of recipes, and locations where the products are sold. It is also possible to order on-line.
I’ve reviewed at least six types of gluten free crackers on this site. To read the other reviews, scroll down past the ads to the end of this article and read the tag ‘gluten free crackers’. It’s in red at least on my computer. Click on the tag and your computer will create a special page giving excerpts from each of my six reviews. Click on the excerpt to read the entire article.
Reviewing gluten free food is not easy. In fixing that list of tags. Everything tastes better than the &%$#~ that I was consuming ten years. Every product on-line must appeal to someone. I was reminded of this fact when I prepared the list of tags. I have reviewed six different crackers and in each case I was experimenting with a different format each time. Maybe we’ll find the answer some day.
The Food and Drug Administration has requested input before define what foods can be labelled gluten free in the United States. Some of you have shared your thoughts with me to assist me in preparing a letter to the F.D.A. Here is a summary of what I believe you are saying. I’ll translate this into ‘legalese’ and submit everything before the October 2 deadline.
In reading your comments. I was most surprised by something that you did NOT say. The FDA seems to be determined to find a single number of parts-per-million of gluten that would determine what products would be allowed to be labeled ‘gluten free’. I disagree. We already have two national organizations that certify gluten free food. The Celiac Sprue Association requires < 5 parts per million and The Gluten Intolerance Group requires <10 ppm. I will recommend that these organizations be encouraged to continue their work and that the FDA set up a procedure for certifying foods containing <20 ppm. Thus, individuals have a choice.
Your comments to me suggested great concern over the problem of cross-contamination. The tests mentioned above can determine whether or not a specific sample is contaminated but can’t guarantee that the product is always safe. I will recommend to the FDA that they establish specific criteria for choosing which samples to test and how many samples must be tested.
Many of you were concerned about information (other than the labels mentioned above) should be included on a food package to make our choices easier and more accurate. This does not seem to be a major concern of the FDA, so I suggest that we approach this problem in a different way.
Many manufacturers are trying to recruit gluten free customers. Please e-mail me telling what you hope to see on packages. What information would make you more likely to purchase a gluten free product? I will organize your ideas into a survey, conduct that survey, and distribute it to manufacturers. Since I want to get this survey out as soon as possible, please send me your ideas before Thursday, October 6.
Summaries to help begin the gluten free diet appear in both Living Without magazine and Gluten Free Living magazines. Both magazines posts the quick-start guides on-line. FYI, these magazines should be in the library of every family that includes a person who lives gluten free. The celiac support group of New Haven, Connecticut, also posts a very useful guide on-line.
To learn more about the gluten free diet, please visit our power page “The Gluten Free Diet” by clicking here or by using the tab at the top of this page.
As I mentioned in Thursday’s newsletter, the F.D.A. has requested our input on the best definition of ‘gluten free’. I have drafted a letter, asking for your thoughts on what I had written, posted the survey on-line, and linked you to it.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that I neglected to post the survey on my site. Anyway, I am posting my letter here and also in the place where I promised it on Thursday.
Thanks to the alert reader who noticed my error and alerted me to it. I depend on you, my friends. I promise to be more careful in what I do and more punctual about reading your letters and comments.
There are many possible symptoms, and unfortunately they mimic so many other conditions that a better question would probably be something like “What symptoms cause us to suspect celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity?”
Here are three articles that may help you answer that question. Read this non-technical article from Celiac (dot com). Here is more information from The Mayo Clinic and an article from WebMd (dot com).
The Food and Drug Administration has asked for input before determining America’s official definition of ‘gluten free’. I have drafted a letter that I intend to send before the October 2 deadline and many of you have shared your thoughts about how I could improve it. This is your last chance. On September 25 I will begin the task of finalizing my letter.
You may, of course, submit your own letter. Click here for information about how to do it. If you prefer to add your comments to my letter, scroll down to take the survey. There are three sections to my comments, and you are welcome to express your ideas at the end of each section.
I’ve written about three groups of people who follow the gluten free diet. I ‘thought up’ those three groups to get myself organized and help me in my work as a writer on gluten free topics. Thanks to your comments, I need to add two more more groups.
The first article discussed (1) medically diagnosed celiacs, (2) people who are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive, and (3) people who elect to live gluten free.You may wish to reread the first article and then return here.
Group 4 consists of celiac’s spouses and their significant others. My wife is part of that group. Everything we cook at home is gluten free. She does purchase wheat-based bread and crackers, cold cereals, and a few snacks that I can’t share. Pizza is about the only subject on which we have had ‘words’. Normally, there are just the two of us at a meal, and we both reject the idea of making two separate pizzas.
Group 5 are persons with wheat allergies. People who live wheat free will have no problems with any of the recommendations on this site, and have additional options. I have decided not to write more about ‘wheat free’ issues. There is too much danger that a person who was attempting to live gluten free might misunderstand what I am saying. I did some research before making this decision, and I did come across a helpful article titled “wheat allergy vs. gluten allergy“.
The gluten free diet is sometimes recommended for persons with autism, sleep issues, muscle pain, and other physical problems. I am totally unqualified to discuss these issues. So, other than acknowledging that this group exists and is important, I will not be writing about it.
Click here for a complete summary of the gluten free diet.
I first heard the terms ‘gluten free’ and ‘celiac disease’ on August 2nd 1999, a date that I will never forget for many reasons. I didn’t know what on earth the doctor was talking about and really got scared when I realized that he was talking about me and was telling me things that would change my life.
Things are much better in the decade since my diagnosis — we are no longer babbling words that our listeners have never heard before — but in any case, the diagnosis of celiac disease can be pretty upsetting. Here are some videos that a newly-diagnosed celiac might find helpful and informative.
This video is a beautifully simple explanation of celiac disease done by a young lady who is obviously speaking about herself and eager to tell others about it her experiences.
Here is an interview with Dr. Peter Green, a recognized authority on celiac disease, giving basic information.
Finally, here is a serious and academic presentation on celiac disease and related issues by three scholars. I lasts 88 minutes, is totally different from what we normally see on You-Tube, but is certainly worth watching.
There are three different groups of people who follow the gluten free diet. The people in each group follow different versions of the gluten free diet. I created these groups in my mind to simplify my task of writing about gluten free topics.
GROUP 1: MEDICALLY DIAGNOSED CELIACS. Traditionally, the gluten free diet is a prescription for persons diagnosed with celiac disease, an auto-immune disease in which the body reacts to certain proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease is incurable in the strict sense of the word, but sufferers become symptom-free as soon as their system becomes gluten free. Since celiac disease is incurable, the gluten free diet is a life-long commitment to a very strict diet
GROUP 2: THE GLUTEN INTOLERANT OR GLUTEN SENSITIVE. These two terms mean pretty-much the same thing. Both refer to people who do not exhibit the meet the criteria for celiac disease but do experience unpleasant symptoms when they consume gluten. These people need to avoid all gluten but may or may not need to do so for the rest of their lives.
GROUP 3: PEOPLE WHO ELECT TO BE GLUTEN FREE. This group of people have no adverse reactions to gluten but feel that avoiding gluten makes it easier for them to lose weight, increases their strength and vitality, gives them a more positive outlook on life, or makes them members of a highly attractive group of people. These people are able to pick and chose which parts of the gluten free diet they will follow.
Thanks to your comments, I realized that there were three additional groups of people who follow the gluten free diet. Click here to read about them.
Traditionally, the gluten free diet was a prescription for treating celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity (in other words, for the people in the first two groups.) Few, if any, people went on the gluten free diet voluntarily. The food was tasteless (at best), horribly expensive, and very difficult to find. Fortunately, things are getting much better.
Many people believe that the gluten free diet should be limited to celiacs, people who are gluten intolerant, or those who are gluten sensitive. Because my purpose is to provide information and NOT to give advice or make judgments, I will provide information about the gluten free diet to everyone who seeks it.
As you may know, the Food and Drug Administration has requested input to guide its efforts to define “gluten free”. I have drafted the comments I plan to submit and am asking your for suggestions. Judging from the responses I’ve read, “cross contamination” is our major concern. Therefore, I have revised the first item in my statement to reflect our concerns. ( sub-paragraph D of the first item). To read more about the government’s request for information or find out how to submit comments yourself, please click here.
If you have not already completed the survey, please read my draft response in the section below. After each part of my response I have placed a box for your reaction to what I have to say. I need your input no later than September 25 so that I can submit my statement before the deadline on October 2.
I enjoy the the gluten free brown rice bread available at Trader Joe’s. The fact that it is at least $1.50 less than many popular brands makes it even more attractive. I’ll be using it regularly except when I am making sandwiches or something where I must have bread that absolutely not crumble.
This is the first time that I have ever done a second review on a product. I originally wrote about this product in July, 2010 and since so many of you wrote comments disagreeing with my negative review, I decided to try it again. One of the comments mentioned that there had been two versions of the bread. Actually, I have no idea if my original impression had to do with the old or the new version. All I know is that I enjoyed what I tasted earlier this week. Another writer suggested that I place the frozen slices directly in the toaster rather than microwaving them for a few seconds. Actually, that seems to make all gluten free toast taste better. From now on, I’ll use the microwave only when my goal is to enjoy bread rather than toast.
Click here to read my first article about Trader Joe’s and the comments you wrote about it.
The Girl Scouts are being encouraged to introduce an allergen free (and hopefully gluten free) Girl Scout Cookie. Click here if you to learn more about this petition.
A gluten free Girl Scout cookie seems like a great idea to me. There are thousands of potential customers and tens-of-thousands of girls and their leaders who need to learn more about celiac disease and the gluten free diet. I’ve been lobbying for this project since 2007. Hopefully, this may be the year.
If all goes well, America will soon (whatever that means) have a definition of ‘gluten free’. For the umpteenth and hopefully final time, the Food and Drug Administration is asking for our input on the subject. I plan to submit a statement, based on twelve years of living gluten free and eight years writing on gluten free topics.
A draft copy of my thoughts appears below. After each of the three sections, there is a box for you to add your ideas. (This is the same technology that produces our monthly surveys). The deadline for comments is October 3, so I need to receive your thoughts no later than September 25. Before you reply, you may wish to read or reread an article on the subject that I wrote two years agp. If you wish to send your comments directly to the F.D.A., follow this link.
When you finish the survey, click on the button that says NEXT and your responses will be submitted.
Ashland, Oregon, features great theater and restaurants that served wonderful gluten free meals.
We enjoyed two dinners at The Greenleaf Restaurant, dining outside beside a flowing stream. My chicken marsala was beautifully presented, tasted wonderful, and was served by a waitress who was totally gluten-savvy and generally a pleasure to work with. I made my selections from a two page gluten free menu. The Greenleaf has indoor seating for those who prefer it and has the most extensive gluten free breakfast I have ever seen. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to try it. The Greenleaf’s address is 272 East Main Street and the phone number is 541.482.2808.
We also recommend Pangea, a small restaurant that specializes in serving at least a dozen wraps, any of which can be prepared wrapped in a Teff flour tortilla, making them ideal for our purposes. We had a marvelous light meal. My wife even ordered a gluten free wrap, even though she does not need to do so. The address is 49 North Main, and the phone number is 541.482.2808.
I thought about titling this article “Gluten Free Shakespeare” but I thought that would confuse the computers that dictate what we see on the search engines. We saw wonderful productions of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” and Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Pinzance” and enjoyed some great meals. What more could you want?!!!!
The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing its definition of ‘gluten free’ and has asked for input from interested parties. (Click here for information about how to submit your comments.) I plan to send comments related to my experiences as a writer on gluten free topics. I would like your input before I finalize and submit my comments.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS USELESS. HERE IS THE LINK TO USE TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY. I AM LEAVING THIS ARTICLE IN PLACE SIMPLY BECAUSE I CAN’T KEEP THE SEARCH ENGINES FROM SENDING PEOPLE HERE. YOU MAY BE ONE OF THOSE UNLUCKY PEOPLE. NO PROBLEM!
JUST CLICK THE LINK AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS NOTICE.
Since the deadline for submissions is October 2, we must move rather quickly, using the site that I normally use four our monthly surveys. In the space right after this article, you will see a copy of the first part of my proposed comments to the F.D.A. After my comments, there is a box for your reactions. The box will expand automatically to give you as much space as you need to respond. Today, I am dealing with the essential of defining ‘gluten free’ in terms of parts-per-million.
On Monday, September 12, I will write about other problems
You will have the chance to respond to these issues in the second part of our survey.
I’m dividing this project into two section so that you can respond more easily. Both surveys will end on Saturday, September 17 so that I can revise my thoughts and respond to the F.D.A. before the deadline on October 2. I will publish my letter to the F.D.A. on the site for your information.
This month’s survey gave people an opportunity for people to their current gluten free lifestyle with what they were experiencing and feeling three years ago. People were asked to insert the words ‘more’ or ‘less’ to express their feelings. There was also a ‘no difference’ box for those who have not experienced a change.
For the statistically minded, I decided that there needed to be a difference greater than 40% to justify the phrase ‘much more’ or ‘much less’ rather than simply ‘more’ or ‘less’. I also decided that any difference less than 10% was insignificant.
Here are your responses.
1. We now do MUCH MORE of shopping for gluten free food in ‘mainstream’ stores.
2. We now spend AN EQUAL AMOUNT of time and energy looking for products certified by The Gluten Free Certification Organization or by the The Celiac Sprue Association.
3. It is now MORE important for us that our purchases come in packages labeled ‘gluten free’,
4. Currently, it is MUCH MORE likely that we will reject a package because of what is included in the ingredient list.
5. Currently, we are MUCH MORE concerned about cross-contamination.
6. Currently we are MORE likely to use coupons or other bargain devices than we were three years ago.
7. (This item number was used to give responders the chance to add comments.)
8. Currently, we are EQUALLY concerned about cross-contamination in our kitchens.
9. Currently, we are eating MUCH MORE fruits, vegetables, and other naturally gluten free food.
10. Currently, our wheat-eating family members and guests are MUCH MORE comfortable eating the gluten free food that we serve them.
11. We are now MUCH MORE comfortable entertaining (and serving food to) visitors who do not live gluten free.
12. (This item number was used to allow responders to give comments)
13. Currently, we are having LESS difficulty finding gluten free restaurants.
14. These days we are MUCH MORE inclined to ask to speak to a manager or chef before ordering.
15. We are currently LESS comfortable visiting and dining in a home where we are the only person living gluten free.
16. We are currently MORE concerned about cross-contamination in the the restaurants we visit.
17. Currently, we are EQUALLY comfortable at receptions, parties, or public events where we have no control about what food is available.
18. (This item number was used to allow responders to make comments.)
This survey also included a chance to enter a drawing for a free copy of the Edition 5 of Triumph Dining’s Restaurant Guide which lists 6500 gluten friendly restaurants all over America. I will announce the winners on Friday.
Today I launched a new power-page “Gluten Free Halloween“. It is our next major holiday — at least diet-wise — and is a major concern of gluten free children and their parents as they return to school. There will almost certainly be a Halloween party at school and the child’s class will certainly be composed primarily of wheat-eaters. What can be done to make sure that everyone has a ‘safe’ and enjoyable experience?
Here’s a rather unconventional solution to the problem. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of videos on YouTube concerned with how to decorate cupcakes. Little or nothing is said about what ingredients should be in the cake. A gluten free family make ‘safe’ cupcakes and then decorate them in such a unique and colorful way that no one will bother to think about whether or not they are gluten free.
Watching these videos will make a child happy to return to school and realize that his dietary restriction will not interfere with his being ‘the life of the party’.
The FDA’s effort to finalize the definition of “gluten free” is capturing the attention of America’s gluten free community. The FDA is soliciting comments from all interested parties (that certainly includes us!) during the month of August. I stated my opinions on the subject in an editorial two weeks ago today and provided a link for you to use to submit your comments. Two of our members shared comments with our gluten free community. I suggest that you read that first editorial, see what two of our members had to say, and consider writing comments of your own (to the FDA and/or to this site).
Everything I have read since then suggests that Amerricans have two issues. I share these concerns:
For information direct from ‘the horses mouth’, read this set of questions and answers published by the Food and Drug Administration. We are primarily concerned with questions 16 and 17.
Dr. Alessio Fasano, the director for celiac research at the University of Maryland celiac disease research program has written and spoken extensively on this subject. He advocates the 20 ppm figure. The link will take you to a letter that he has written to FDA and a video on the same subject. A suggestion: read the letter first and then watch the video. Dr. Fasano’s first language is not English and he is addressing a very complicated issue.
Our monthly survey for September will deal with gluten free labeling issues. Normally, I give you a full month to respond, but in this case the deadline will be September 15 so I will have time to study the results, share them with you, and include them in the letter I intend to send to the FDA before October 1st.
This week I upgraded several of our “Power Pages”, the lists that consolidate the information we need in one place.
I added two restaurant chains to power page “Gluten Free Restaurant Meals“. Gluten free options at ‘Red Lobster’ and ‘Season 52′ our now more accessible to you.
I upgraded our “Gluten Free Bakeries” power page by adding establishments in Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and Colorado.
We now have three new options for gluten free grocery shopping because stores in Michigan, Minnesota, and Utah have been added to our “Gluten Free Supermarket Shopping” power page.
“Attitude” is the key to success in every situation, including facing the challenges that confront gluten free children returning to school. We’ve talked about school lunch recipes and other practical issues. Today we consider the biggest issue — going back to school with a positive attitude toward gluten free living and living in general.
“It’s a better time than ever to be a gluten free kid”. That’s the opening sentence in the first of three articles that I am recommending today. We know this is true for adults, particularly those of us who have lived gluten free for a decade or more. Children do not have that ‘history’, of course, but perhaps they can share our attitude.
This article encourages us to focus on ‘what we can eat’ rather than ‘what we can eat’.
My final suggestion relates to the main point that I am trying to make today: attitude is everything. This is true for every aspect of a child’s success in school, including the way he or she lives the gluten free lifestyle.
Yesterday, I discovered that I had failed to read and respond to the comments that you tried to share with America’s gluten free community. It won’t happen again, I promise. Skim through this site and you will see many more comments than you read yesterday. Here are a few general thoughts:
First of all, let me salute the person who wrote about a situation where he had pre-ordered a gluten free meal at a wedding reception and received a totally inappropriate meal prepared and served by people who lacked the resources and/or the intention to serve gluten free food. What’s so unusual? We’ve all had that experience. The difference here is that this person was willing to attach his comment to an article titled “The Lighter Side of Gluten Free“. We all need to dine defensively (as this person did) and do everything possible to promote celiac-awareness. But there also times when our choices are whether to laugh or to cry. This writer for making the best choice.
Thanks to one of your comments, I added Boar’s Head products to the article “Are Cold Cuts Gluten Free?”
I totally enjoyed these crunchy gluten free cookies. They were ‘crunchy’ in the best sense of that word — some allegedly crunchy cookies are hard and dry but these were just right! My personal favorite Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reviewing this company’s soft baked cookies.
Obviously, this company produces great cookies even when constrained by the need to exclude all the major allergens and prepare food that is certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) to contain less than ten parts-per-million gluten
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OUR MONTHLY SURVEY—TRENDS IN GLUTEN FREE LIVING
Your goal is provide a lunch for your child that is healthy, appetizing, and gluten free. Here are two things in mind as you strive to achieve this goal during this school year:
♦ a lunch provided by the school is not automatically better than the one you provide. It would certainly be reasonable to expect a cafeteria to serve a meal that contains no gluten toxic ingredients, but what about concerns for cross-contamination, etc? What about the child who is determined to not stand out from their peers?
I suggest that you read these three articles about healthy school lunches. These are not specifically ‘gluten free’, but the substitutions will be obvious.
Earlier this month, I wrote about three different types of people who practice the gluten free diet.
♦ There are people who have made a lifelong commitment to total abstinence from gluten.
♦ Others who are ‘cutting down’ on gluten, engaging in periodic ‘cleanses’ or eliminating certain foods.
♦ People who are going gluten free because it seems to be ‘trendy’
I received comments from members of all three groups, many suggesting that I have not done justice to their point-of-view. In the last paragraph, I said that “If anyone asks for advice, I’ll express my point-of-view to the best of my ability”. Until today, I have never explained how I feel or what group I belong to. I’ll try to correct that today.
FYI, I am a medically-diagnosed celiac. My diagnosis was accidental. My doctor was exploring various possibilities to explain my weight loss, chronic fatigue, and seemingly endless cycles of constipation and diarrhea. I was diagnosed in 1999 and my doctor admitted that he had had no experience with celiac disease. (I moved to Oregon about five years later, and my new family-practice stated that I was the first celiac she had ever met.)
My function as a writer is to relay information, NOT to give advice. This is important legally since I have no academic or medical credentials, but it is also my belief. A person’s diet is a matter of personal choice!
One of the few ‘facts’ in the gluten free world is that it is extremely difficult to medically diagnose celiac disease if a person is already living gluten free. How important is this? That is a personal decision.
If someone asked me if I had read any scientific evidence to suggest that living gluten free makes it easier to lose weight, I would tell them ‘no’. Of course, people who are very conscientious about what they eat do better in every way than people who eat everything they can get their hands on.
Is cross-contamination an issue in the gluten free world? Of course! My intention is to be very careful at home where I have virtually-total control, to do my best when dining out, and — after taking all reasonable precautions — to relax and enjoy my food.
The most important thing I did this week was to learn that the FDA had reopened the question of gluten free labeling and was requesting our input. I published an editorial about that on Monday, stating my own ideas on the subject and linking you to information on how to share your ideas. Fortunately, we have until the end of September to send in our comments.
I added two restaurant chains —Salty Iguana Mexican Restaurants and Seasons 52 — to our power page “ I also upgraded our power page “Gluten Free Pizza Restaurants” by adding pizzerias in Massachusetts, Oregon. Pennsylvania, and Texas. I also added a gluten free bakery in Tampa, Florida.
The manager of ‘Madwoman Foods’ in Minnesota informed me this week that the firm has closed its doors.
I suggest you read this general article, “The Gluten Free College Student“. Hopefully, a student can live gluten free at any college or university, but his or her gluten free lifestyle is a major factor in where the student lives and whether or not he participates in the university’s meal program. The article also reviews the rules for alcohol consumption — good information for a student who not want to be ‘glutened’ in the presence of his or her buddies and realizes that ‘brain fog’ will be big impediment to his studies.
Here are two articles will appeal to students because the author is a young woman who describes herself as “a gluten free foodie” and has recently graduated from college. Click here to read the other article.
“Gluten Free in Five Minutes” is a great cookbook for college student. Everything is cooked in the microwave and all the ingredients used are available in any grocery store. Directions are clear and simple — there are even explicit instructions on how to boil an egg. I’m anxious to try the recipe that makes a single hamburger roll.
“Beyond Rice Cakes” contains many recipes as well as other suggestions for gluten free living at college. Click on the graphics below to order either of these books from Amazon. Click on the graphics below to order these books from Amazon.
The speaker’s enthusiasm, competence, and passion for gluten free cooking comes through loud and clear in this video-dvd “All You Wanted to Know About Gluten Free Cooking” presented by Connie Sarros. Ms. Sarros is not celiac or gluten intolerant. She got into gluten free cooking to assist her father when he was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 70 and became so enthusiastic about the topic that she went on to became one of America’s best-know experts in this field.
In this video, she seems to be talking to an audience of enthusiastic and competent cooks who wish to transfer their skills into the world of gluten free cooking. She encourages experimentation, gives suggestions that increases chances for success, and states that gluten free cookbooks (including her own) are simply “cookbooks in which all the mistakes have already been made for you”.
Connie Sarros has a message for all us — embrace your gluten free lifestyle, learn from your mistakes, strive for excellence in your gluten free cooking but do not fear errors or imperfections! The dvd can be ordered from the speaker’s website.
Celiac disease is hardly a blessing, but if a person has to have a chronic disease, I’m glad I have this one.
I have absolutely no symptoms as long as I stick to my diet.
I have no expenses for drugs, medical tests, physical therapy, or surgery. This more than offsets the fact that my food costs more.
Whenever we eat out, I get to choose the restaurant.
People still ask me specific questions about the gluten free diet, but there are no more blank stares like the ones I faced when I was first diagnosed ten years ago.
I have the privilege of overseeing this internet site, which I totally enjoy doing, gives me the feeling that I am contributing something useful to the community, and is source of income and personal satisfaction.
I plan to write more articles like these. Celiacs — like everyone else — really need to lighten up these days. Help me out. Share ideas with me so that I can republish them for the benefit of America’s gluten free community. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This month’s survey asks how our gluten free lifestyles has changed in the last three years. You can share your ideas by using the form below if you have not yet responded to the survey.
You can also sign up for our giveaway of four copies of Triumph Dining’s “Gluten Free Restaurant Guide”, which lists 6500 U.S. restaurants that provide gluten free options. Just write your name and mailing address in any or all of the comment spaces in the survey.
Here are more ideas about supporting gluten free children as they transition back to school.
Kids who need encouragement might appreciate this video about a high school student who not let celiac disease interfere with becoming a tennis star.
“You’re allergic to beer?”, an article from USA Today, deals with all those questions that celiacs have to deal with, sometimes for what seems like the thousandth time. Hopefully, the young person reading this article will realize that the people asking these questions are sincerely interested in knowing the answer, and will answer the question with words rather than by downing large quantities of beer, gluten free or otherwise.
Here’s an offer for a free “Back to School’ e-book containing recipes and suggestions. This book is free right now, just type in the code 2011BTSEbook. This offer expires on August 26.
Our “Back to School” series will continue on Saturday. To read all the articles, scroll down past the ads and click on the red tag.
The Food and Drug Administration is once again considering the issue of labeling gluten free food. We are invited to submit our comments this month or during the month of December. Here is a link to the FDA website with information about how to submit a comment.
I plan to submit two sets if comments to the FDA — one being my personal opinions and the other giving my point-of-view as a writer on gluten free topics. I’ll make my submissions in mid-September, thus giving me a month to get my thoughts in order. I have two major concerns:
The FDA is recommending that a product must contain less than 20 parts-per-million gluten in order to be labeled ‘gluten free’. Where did that number come from? The information from the FDA suggests that lower concentrations of gluten can’t be measured accurately, and yet we know that the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) requires that the product contain less than 10 ppm and the Celiac Sprue Association carries this a step further by only certifying products with less than 5 ppm gluten.
Is this number based on any scientific evidence as to the amount of gluten that a celiac can tolerate? I know that I have never read any such evidence. The 20 ppm figures seems to be for the convenience of the testing organizations.
My second concern is that their is no mention of the word “oats” in the FDA material. Actually, this can be fixed by changing a few words in the guidelines, since products that contain non-certified oats will almost certain exceed the 20 ppm limit. I presume (but don’t actually know) that companies who qualify would be free to label their products “oat free”.
I’d be privileged to publish your thoughts on this matter. Your ideas may help other members of America’ gluten free community make up their mind, thus making their comments more valuable to the FDA and to all who will be reading gluten free labels in the future.
This week I updated our website by
continuing to publish the series “Gluten Free Coupons and Bargains” and changing the procedure slightly so I am the only one who has to place his or her name on many mailing lists.
upgrading the “Gluten Free Supermarket Shopping” power page to make it easier to find the gluten free list published by each the supermarkets.
adding information about using tags to the “Finding Gluten Free Information” power page.
learning about and informing you that the Gluten Free Grocery in the Chicago area has closed its doors.
Your gluten free child will probably need a new “back-to-school lunch box. There so many choices that all I can is that you take your child shopping for something that he or she considers ‘cool’ or whatever the word for this year is. It is important that your child has sandwich containers like the one shown above. I put the graphic up there just to give you the idea of what I have in mind. You’ll find these in all the stores for half-the-price. The important thing (from the adult point-of-view) is that your child has a sandwich container that is sturdy enough to keep the gluten free bread from crumbling.
My reactions to these articles are
obviously, if the food program is not already in place in your school, it will not be available for at least most of this school year. A project this takes a great deal of planning and co-ordination
I wonder if a hot lunch served in the school cafeteria is always better than a cold lunch provided by a parent. Of course, the school should provide the same services to all children and their parents, but….
I can visualize a school cafeteria that provides gluten free options but I can’t see how cross-contamination could be totally in that environment.
I wonder how a gluten free child would feel receiving a different meal than the other children in the lunch-line. Would this increase or decrease feeling of isolation?
On Tuesday of this week, I published the first part of this article on gluten free school lunches.
Here are three links to coupons that will cut the costs of your gluten free lifestyle:
TGI Friday. This coupon entitles you to a $5 discount when your table runs up a bill of $15 or more. The expiration date is 10/31/11.
French Meadow Bakery. $1 off on any purchase.
Crunchmaster Crackers. This is one of my favorite snack foods. $1 off on any purchase.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to create any of these things? I can think of several reasons:
it’s almost certainly cheaper than the original product.
You are in total control of cross-contamination issues that might arise from consuming “the real thing”.
It allows us laugh at the reality that wheat-based food has a distinctive flavor and texture that we can’t duplicate exactly. ‘Real food’ does not mean the same thing as ‘wheat based food’.
It sounds like fun! These items would probably make a big hit at your next gluten free support group meeting. We need to lighten up occasionally. Gluten free living has its challenges, but….
I’ll be publishing these “lighter side” articles on Wednesday’s as long as people seem interested. I’d love your suggestions.
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Here is your opportunity to take part in our monthly survey. We’re attempting to get a handle on how our gluten free lifestyles have changed in the past three years. The company that processes our surveys has come up with a new method that allows people to complete the survey without ever leaving the site.
The survey document also provides an opportunity to register for our drawing for a copy of the fifth edition of Triumph Dining’s “Gluten Free Restaurant Guide”. Register by entering your name and mailing address in the comments section of the survey. You are welcome to triple your chance of winning by entering your name in all three of the comment sections. Scroll down to complete the survey and enter the drawing.
“Parents of gluten free children will have to pack at least 175 lunches (per child) this school year. Our goal is to make sure that the lunches we pack are envied (or at least not scorned) by other (wheat-eating) children, and will be eaten (not traded or thrown away) by the child.” I wish I knew the source of that quotation. It sums up up the situation pretty well — I added the words in parentheses to emphasize how this relates to gluten free families.
Fortunately, the internet provides us with plenty of ideas and specific recipes. Start with this general article. It includes a lot of very sensible suggestion of always packing “something extra” in the lunch box. Gluten free children can’t trade food with their classmates, but they give their classmates a taste of their food to to demonstrate that people who live gluten free are not ‘weird’ (or whatever the current term is) and that our food is ‘awesome’ (or whatever that current term is).
Here are two collections of lunch box recipes. Not all the recipes are gluten free, but the necessary substitutions will be fairly obvious. If you don’t already have TMI (Too Much Information), try this article. Older children who can read these posts want to study them and make requests. This will also give them more of a feeling of responsibility for their gluten free lifestyle.
This is the first in a series of articles titled “Gluten Free School Lunches”. On Saturday, I did another article on different aspects of this subject and will continue to write back-to-school articles on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the rest of this month.
How do we deal with people who go gluten free for reasons that have nothing to do with diagnosed celiac disease or gluten intolerance? There are God-knows-how-many people out there who experiment with our way of life because they believe it helps them lose weight or in an effort to emulate Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, or even Celsea Clinton.
When I was diagnosed with celiac diet in 1999, the gluten free diet was definitely not a fad simply because too few people had heard about it. Besides, the food was so expensive and tasted so much like cardboard that nobody stayed on the diet for the wrong reasons. I’m glad things have changed.
As you can see, I’m expressing personal opinions tonight in the first of a series of articles I’m calling “Food for Thought”. I’ll publish these editorials every Monday. I’m eager to read your reaction.
Every diet is dangerous if not properly supervised. I think it is possible for people to supervise their own diet through reading, talking with experts who have experienced the diet, and by attending support groups. People who do any of these things will learn
• that the gluten free diet is not a magic formula for losing weight,
• that the diet is not easy to follow (even though the food tastes much better than it tasted ten years ago),
• and that there is a tremendous difference between a short term ‘gluten free cleanse’, or ‘cutting down on their intake of gluten free food’, and the life-long commitment to total abstinence that is traditionally the major concept underlying gluten free living.
There will always be a group of pseudo-celiacs who ignore what I said in the last paragraph. I wish them well, and thank them for increasing public awareness of the gluten free diet and creating a demand for more and better ‘safe’ products. If any of them ask for advice, I’ll express my point-of-view to the best of my ability.
During this past week, I “grew” the website by:
adding a new power page “Finding Gluten Free Information“. Right now, it contains two search engines that should make it easier for you find gluten free information on our site and on the internet. More tools will be added during the next few months.
realizing that the weekly schedule I published last Sunday was totally unworkable. We need a weekly schedule. I’m experimenting now and will announce the new schedule as soon as possible.
beginning a series of “back to school” articles meant for parents of gluten free children. I’ll be publishing these articles on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Children living gluten free need all the support we can provide. Click here to go to the first article in the series. To read the entire series, click on the tag “back to school gluten free”.
adding a new pizza restaurant chain to the “Gluten Free Pizza Restaurants” power page. Extreme Pizza offers ‘safe’ pizza in 13 states.
Children living gluten face many challenges in school. It’s no exactly a (celiac-friendly) piece of cake for the parents who are responsible for them. August is “back to school” month, so lets consider the plight of a celiac or gluten intolerant elementary school child who is about to enter a new school.
Danna Korn, author of Living Gluten Free for Dummies and founder of R.O.C.K,(Raising our Gluten Free Kids) has written a very useful introduction to this subject. I suggest you read that as a general introduction.
This article addresses the question of how to brief the child’s teacher, the Principal, and the school staff on the issues involved in dealing with a student who lives gluten free. It also includes links to letters written by others. The writer suggests that these letters be hand delivered and discussed with the school staff. I heartily agree.
I’ll write on this topic in the weeks before school starts. I’ve scheduled an article on school lunches for next Tuesday.
One major issue for every parent of a gluten free child is how to deal with school parties, birthdays, etcetera. The video below was made by a parent who has discovered a wonderful solution to this problem.
These coupons will help you in thriving on a gluten free diet without needless expense . Our coupons and bargains roundup is published each and every Friday and includes at least three recommendations.
Whole Foods publishes a magazine called “The Whole Deal” which includes coupons for a variety of products (gluten fee and otherwise). This link is particularly valuable since it will work continually, always taking you to the coupons in the most recent edition of the magazine. Whole Food offers a great variety of gluten free products, but it is not an inexpensive place to shop. These coupons will help.
Kettle Cuisine offers offers a coupon for $1 off for purchasing their soups, many of which are gluten free. The downside of this offer is that you have to sign up for the mailing list before you receive any specific information. Unfortunately, most coupon offers work that way. Click here to read my article about the two ways to avoid having your computer in-box inundated with unessential e-mail.
Cascadian Farms also offers discount coupons but requires you to join their mailing list to find out what is available. The link in the last paragraph describes how to sidestep this issue.
All of our articles about gluten free couponing and bargain hunting are tagged “gluten free coupons and bargains”. Scroll down the page (past the ads) and look for the red tag-words at the bottom of the page. Click on the tag and the computer will immediately prepare a list of excerpts from every article on the site that has the same tag. The most recent articles will be displayed first.
How is a gluten free life style changed in the last three years? That’s the subject of our August survey. You will be asked to respond to fifteen sentences dealing with shopping habits, dining habits at home, and dining habits outside the home. You will have ample opportunity to make comments.
You will also have a chance to win a copy of Triumph Dining’s newest restaurant guide which lists 6500 restaurants that have thoroughly ‘checked out’ and judged to be ready to meet our needs. Actually, you will have three chances, one in each section of the survey. Click the box in the upper right corner of your screen.
The company that conducts our surveys has changed its procedures a bit so that now we can complete the survey without leaving this page. Obviously, the three page survey can’t fit on the screen all at once, so you will have to do some scrolling. There are 18 questions on the survey and you should be able to complete the whole thing in less than fifteen minutes. Thanks for sharing your life with America’s gluten free community.
Today I launched a new power page called “Finding Gluten Free Information“. My goal is consolidate everything to know about this topic in one place. Right now, it contains two search engines that enable you to search this web site or to generate a list of every article on the internet that includes the terms ‘celiac’ and/or ‘gluten free’ or even to search every article on the net.
To access these search engines, click on the link above or click on the tab at the top of the page.
I plan to add at least one more search engine as well as other information that will help you find and evaluate the huge amount of information that is available on the internet.
During this month’s survey, people living gluten free expressed 89% confidence in that were certified gluten free by either the Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) or the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO). a project of the Gluten Intolerance Group.
85% of these people felt confidence when purchasing a product labeled “produced in a gluten free facility” felt comfortable eating food items from a box labeled “gluten free”.
This data underscores the importance of GFCO and CSA certification. There was less than 1% difference between the two organizations despite that fact that CSA has a stricter standard (5 parts-per-million compared to 10 parts-per-million for the GFCO.)
This question should have been asked on the survey. How do we feel about the manufacturers of products we purchase? Do we feel better purchasing from national companies that have armies of lawyers making sure that no false promises are being made? How about firms that produce only gluten free products and are very dependent on our good will?
As you may know, this site conducts a survey each month to give us all a better idea of what people who live gluten free actually do. I’ll announce August’s survey on Thursday, both here and in my weekly newsletter.
This week, I “grew” our website by
adding another special search engine to enable you to search for gluten free information on the entire internet. This is a companion to “Successful Celiac Search“, which enables people to search for information from a dozen carefully selected websites. I pledge to have all my search information consolidated in one place by next Sunday. That will make things simpler and more effective for all of us.
establishing a weekly schedule to help me “stay organized” and perhaps help some of you know what to look for:
→ SUNDAY: “Gluten Free Weekly Roundup”, a summary of what I accomplished during the past week. FYI, I write this on Saturday. I am “unplugged” on Sunday.
→ MONDAY: “Food for Thought”. The gluten free diet is based on firm scientific principles but there are certainly areas where there are differences of opinions. I will declare my point-of-view on Mondays.
→ TUESDAY: “The Gluten Free Internet”. The internet is a marvelous tool for obtaining information for gluten free living and for millions of other topics. Hopefully, the articles published on Tuesdays will help you make the best use of that tool.
→ WEDNESDAY: “Gluten Free Living”. Currently, I am writing about attitudes that help us thrive gluten free.
→ THURSDAY: “Gluten Free Products”. Articles about ‘safe’ products that are available to us
→ FRIDAY: “Gluten Free on a Budget”. Currently featuring a series on coupons for gluten free food as well as other bargains.
→ SATURDAY: “Gluten Free Children”. During August I plan a series of back-to-school articles.
Traveling with children is difficult at best and vacationing with gluten free children requires special preparation. Here are some articles that you may find helpful or at least reassuring.
♦ This article deals with day trips with children who live gluten free.
♦ We seldom think of claustrophobia as a symptom of celiac disease, but in this case it seems applicable if not technically correct. This article is written by a mother who was not able to leave the secure area of an airport to get her child a gluten free meal. She felt trapped and penned in. I imagine the child felt the same way. Learn from this family’s mistakes. Do everything you can to avoid similar situations.
Saturday is “children’s day” at this site. Since our kids are going back to school next month, I’ll write about back-to-school issues on the next few Saturdays.