I’m just an average coeliac who loves the occasional piece of (gluten free) cake.

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I follow a gluten free diet. I follow it because I have coeliac disease. I did not start a gluten free diet because I wanted a healthy lifestyle change. I followed a relatively healthy well balanced diet even before my diagnosis. I still do now. 

 

But I love the occasional treat. I really do.

 

I do not follow a paleo diet. I do not purposefully seek out carb free or fat free foods. I do not make sure that all my food is GMO free. And since I do not have any other intolerances or allergies I do drink milk- normal shop bought cow’s milk, not home made almond, hemp or coconut milk. I do eat corn. And I do eat cake sometimes.

 

I admire people who follow a plant based diet, who make sure all their foods are organic, or that their meat is grass fed and who drink green smoothies for breakfast. But I am not one of them. I know some of these things will lead to a healthier life, but I still am not willing to do that.

 

So why is it that almost every time I search through gluten free recipe blogs lately it makes me feel like I am an unhealthy slob for using real butter instead of coconut oil, or for using even unrefined sugar instead of stevia. Why is it that when a person asks a question about a certain type of gluten free pasta they almost always have somebody berate them for eating corn that is not certified GMO free?

 

Some of us are just people who happen to have coeliac disease, who have to follow a gluten free diet. Some have other intolerances, so have to eliminate some other foods from their diet. But not all of us are willing to completely change our diets to grain free, lactose, sugar, nut and meat free diets if we don’t have to. We did not start a gluten free diet out of choice and we follow it for life.

 

I am still an average coeliac who follows a balanced diet that includes lots of natural gluten free foods, and tries to live a healthy lifestyle. But I still want my cake. And I want it the way I like it. That isn’t so wrong is it?

 

______________________

 

Note: In this article I am in no way encouraging people to eat unhealthy foods. I know that gluten free food can be full of preservatives, are high in sugars and fats and are low in important nutrients. But I believe in everything in moderation, and if a person wants to eat something ‘bad’ but gluten free occasionally, I think that is their decision. As always, a healthy well balanced diet is important, and a gluten free diet should be based on natural healthy gluten free foods. A healthy diet should be coupled with exercise to prevent health complications like diabetes 2, cardiovascular diseases and many more conditions and diseases.

 

 

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Honesty is the best policy.

ImageI am lucky enough to live in an almost gluten free household. I say almost because my husband does have one cupboard that is dedicated to the few gluten filled packed items he might buy to take to work. We are so strict about the whole gluten free thing at home, that if my husband wants a sandwich made with normal bread, he will prepare and eat it out of our home to prevent any crumbs from falling anywhere that can accidentally make me ill by cross contamination. My daughter is given a gluten filled snack when they go out for a walk. Some people might think I am being paranoid, but other coeliacs who experience debilitating symptoms with the slightest contamination would understand my actions.

This is why I find it strange and a little too ambitious when a restaurant owner claims that they serve 100% gluten free food. If the restaurant serves gluten free food only, or has a separate kitchen to prepare gluten free food, it is a possibility- although the 100% claim is still not technically correct due to many gluten free foods containing a minimal amount of gluten (<20ppm) that has been deemed safe for most coeliacs.

But how on earth is it possible for a busy restaurant that prepares foods containing gluten to put a 100% gluten- free claim on some of their dishes? Can you imagine kitchen staff changing clothes, washing hands every time gluten is touched, and totally scrubbing down the kitchen to prepare a gluten free dish in a place where gluten is everywhere?  And what about the waiting staff? They touch plates containing gluten, and handle gluten free dishes at the same time. Is there absolutely no risk of contamination?

I have to hand it to the Italians. In the land of pizza and pasta, they always take these things seriously.  From my experiences, the first thing they ask if you request gluten free food at a restaurant is if you have coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity. If you reply in the affirmative, they either say that it is impossible to cater to your needs in their restaurant due to the risk of cross contamination, or else they proceed to accomodate you, with no risk involved. At one particular pizzeria, they told me that they would cater to my needs only if I went to dine as their first customer at the opening time, before they started preparing pizzas so that the restaurant would not be contaminated. They refused to serve me at any other time.

And this brings me to the point of this post. I appreciate honesty. I would prefer if a chef or restaurant owner told me that they can prepare food with no gluten containing ingredients, but that there is the chance of contamination so that I can make my own informed decision about whether I would like to dine at their establishment or not.

There are a few restaurants that are truly honest about this. They state that they will try their best to avoid cross contamination. But they do not put a 100% gluten free claim on their food. In my own humble opinion, these are the ones that we can trust to take care of our needs. They do not take things for granted. They make efforts to keep us healthy but do admit that it is difficult.

Anybody that assumes that it is easy to prepare a gluten free dish in a busy restaurant by not including gluten containing ingredients in a dish only, has no idea about how to prepare gluten free food.

How do you feel about this?

Moving on to corn now? Gluten is not evil, and neither is corn.

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Just this week, I wrote an article about food-fear mongering.  The two topics I dealt with were the fact that gluten is being labelled as harmful for everybody, and the new rumours about corn.

”Why we shouldn’t buy into all food fear campaigns’

https://candiesglutenfreeland.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/why-we-shouldnt-buy-into-all-food-fear-campaigns/

Coincidentally, today I came across an article titled  ‘Is Corn The Next Gluten?’ by Dr. Amy Myers http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12939/is-corn-the-next-gluten.html.

This article is exactly what I was writing about. It talks about gluten being an inflammatory food, and it goes on to say that adherence to a gluten-free diet is enough to heal the gut and halt systemic inflammation. The thing it, this article is NOT written about people diagnosed with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, but for the general population, including perfectly healthy individuals. It continues to spread the notion that gluten is bad for everybody.

Furthermore, in my last blog entry, I stated that a 2012 study published in Plant foods for human nutrition,  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22298027, showed that in some coeliacs, as a rare event, maize could induce a coeliac-like immune response by similar or alternative mechanisms to those used by wheat gluten peptides. This study is relevant to people with coeliac disease only, but is sadly being applied to perfectly healthy individuals by people out to make money out of this new trend.

The author who happens to be a doctor, is using fear to cause people to make irrational decisions, all the while promoting her ebooks, eCourses, soon to be released book and food-based program. As I said last time, fear sells. The author of this article also uses extreme extrapolation of the results of real studies to give credit to her claims.

Here are a few points:

1. The article talks about ‘leaky gut syndrome’– there is absolutely no evidence that eliminating certain foods like gluten or corn have any benefit on this ‘condition’ that is yet unproven to even exist.

2. It states:

”Remember that what you eat also eats, and be aware of what that is. Unless certified as grass fed, poultry and livestock are fed corn.Besides the fact that grain-fed meat comes from a less healthy animal and is extremely deficient in nutrients, the seemingly insignificant content of the animal’s diet can be enough to trigger an immune response when you eat that gluten-free hamburger or have your morning nonfat yogurt. ”

Seriously, does anybody actually believe that if an animal eats gluten or corn it will make it’s way into our hamburgers and yoghurt? The animal digests the food and it is broken down. I am surprised a doctor would actually allude to this. But again, fear sells.

2. Moreover it states

”to many people’s bodies, the protein in corn can look like gluten, and they cross-react to it”.

This is false. As I said earlier, it had been proven that in some coeliacs, as a rare event, corn could induce a coeliac-like immune response. The study the author referenced to her claim is new (January, 2013), and concluded that if a coeliac is not responsive to a gluten free diet, reasons may be cross reactivity to certain foods, or gluten cross contamination. These findings may explain why around some people with coeliac disease do not get complete relief of symptoms even when on a gluten free diet. In fact it was not only corn, but several foods were found to cause a reaction in the lab setting including cow’s milk, milk chocolate, the milk proteins: milk butyrophilin, whey protein and casein, yeast, oats, corn, millet, instant coffee and rice.

Again, the author of ‘Is Corn the next Gluten” used this study as a reference but chose only information relevant to her article and applied the results to the general population. She is inadvertently encouraging people to eliminate foods from their diet without a proper diagnosis by first encouraging people to eliminate gluten, and then to eliminate corn if symptoms persist. I still have not understood why corn was targeted from the many foods listed in the study she referenced.

3. ”Gluten is only one of several molecules that imitate our own body tissues and contribute to autoimmunity”.

Yes, gluten triggers auto-immunity- in people with coeliac disease.

Some people may have an allergy or an intolerance to corn, and some coeliacs (extremely rare) who do not respond to the gluten free diet might be having a reaction to corn, but there is no evidence that corn is unsuitable for everybody.

Now, I know that many people may avoid corn since alot of it is GMO. I will not enter into a discussion about GMO because since there has not been independent testing on these GMO grains, it is still a subject of debate as to whether these are safe or not. If anybody is going to argue that corn is unsuitable for human consumption because of GMOs, there is always the option to buy organic. But that is a personal choice.

This spreading of fear should stop!

I strongly suggest that if anybody suspects that their symptoms are the result of a particular food, they should follow the advice of their doctor or dietitian. Eliminating certain foods without guidance can be risky, because the symptoms could be the result of some other condition that would need to be investigated. This is especially true with gluten.

For more information about leaky gut syndrome visit http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/leaky-gut-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Reference:

A. Vojdani and I. Tarash, “Cross-Reaction between Gliadin and Different Food and Tissue Antigens,” Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 1, 2013, pp. 20-32. doi: 10.4236/fns.2013.41005.

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