Not what I wanted to be reading on National Celiac Awareness Day.

I woke up this morning all ready to bake something fun and share it today for you all as today is National Celiac Awareness Day, but then my husband sent me this:

http://www.omaha.com/article/20110912/NEWS01/709129968

I had NO idea that I would be writing a response to an article that downplays the importance of the gluten free life. I say life because for more than a just a few people with Celiac Disease even contact with gluten can make you sick. It’s not just about eating it, it’s like reading an encyclopedia anytime you want to buy lip balm or body wash or a latte. Even hand sanitizer!

Granted: some people are on a “fad diet”, and that eventually will go away. BUT with 1 in 133 people having Celiac disease and even more suffering from some sort of gluten intolerance or allergic reaction * , I couldn’t be more proud of Omaha and the moves some places seem to be taking to make our community more friendly for those of us who are gluten free (whether or not it’s a choice).

*I’d also like to note that for some people with other digestive issues, a gluten free diet has been helpful as a short term recovery diet.

“A new food to be scared of. Sound familiar to anyone?”

Some of us do need to be “scared” (not that we are scared, we’re just aware) of certain foods. I don’t think that people being on a “fad diet” is going to increase the general public’s “fear”. I think the real problem with this article (op-ed) is the misuse of the word “fear”. I think it needs to be auto-replaced with “aware of”.

There is one thing in this article that I completely agree with. I’m completely frustrated by local establishments that offer “gluten free products” made next to/ in the same kitchen as gluten containing products. Cross contamination is a HUGE deal. If there is anything that makes me “afraid” of food, it’s the lack of education of our food service workers. (Granted this is getting a lot better in some places, it’s still BAD in others.) It sucks to get excited about a gluten free pizza just to get sick an hour later and realize, “oh, they use the same oven for both kinds of crust and apparently don’t take extra precautions.” If you offer a gluten free product, I beg of you, please have it tested before you start selling it.

I can only speak for myself, but if I ingest even a small amount of gluten, I’m sick for a few days. When I go out, I have to be assertive to be sure that I don’t spend the next 2 or 3 days in bed. I know I’m not the only one out there either.

I’m super happy that the food industry is getting better about labeling things as gluten free. Then I don’t have to read and re-read labels to ensure that a company hasn’t changed their ingredients to include something that will make me sick. In fact, I feel like more companies could follow this example! As a consumer, I’m tired of having to call each individual brand to ask for a list of their gluten free products, just to have the list change a month later.

It is incredibly insulting to have to hear that “…you best quick get yourself “gluten-free.” Especially if you want to be cool.” I don’t feel cool when I have to reiterate to my waitress  that “I can’t have croutons on my salad. It’ll make me sick.” It makes me feel obsessive and demanding. I’ve been a waitress. I know what they think about those kinds of customers. This is part of the reason I’m so glad to hear that some people are educating themselves on the issue.

“What I’ve noticed is that marketing people in the food industry certainly have been working in recent years to take advantage of the gluten issue.”  Of course! With the growing numbers of people who can not process gluten, it would be neglectful of the “food industry” to ignore us. We have needs too! Especially in a market where everything contains a little bit of wheat, the more companies that can offer a completely gluten free product, the better. I like to have options, how about you??

“To recap: Some people really need to stay clear of wheat, barley and rye. However, wheat, barley and rye are very likely getting a much bigger bum of a rap than they deserve.” Well, I don’t know about that. Mr. Olsen, who was quoted in the article seems to think that those farmers are doing just fine, and the article goes on to say the Nebraska Farm Bureau fully supports us. (Big thanks, NFB!)(P.S. I would love love love to visit a sorghum field!)

The one thing not taken into account here is: there are a lot of people out there on whole wheat diets. Every time I turn around there is some new, delicious sounding multi-grain cracker or Dakota style whole wheat bread. It’s not like we’re trying to make wheat, barley, and rye (and most oats) disappear of the face of the earth. I personally have nothing against these grains, in fact I sometimes still miss them. But, these are the cards we are dealt, and I’m making them work for me.

In summation, I guess I’m more than a little peeved. I’m sick of hearing people use the word “trend” in connection to the GF life. For me and a lot of other people it’s not a trend, it’s our day to day life. I would love to be able to go out and buy a loaf of that super yummy sounding Dakota bread. But I can’t. So you enjoy your “fro-yo with extra gluten”. I’m going to go bake some cupcakes that are so good, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

She then prescribed what is arguably the only broad prescription possible regarding this new potential enemy of modern humanity. (Really? Come on.)

“It’s a situation in which there is no harm in removing gluten from your diet,” she said. “I have several people I’ve seen who have no known problem with gluten who have told me they feel better having taken gluten out of their lives.

“I must admit I was very skeptical as the broad dietary trend emerged,” she said.

“I’m not as skeptical now. If there’s no harm and there’s possible help .

“Why not try it?”

Indeed, Mr. Robert Nelson. Why not try it? Maybe you should try the diet for 2 weeks or a month. Maybe then you’ll understand.

Always,

Gluten Free in the Great Plains

gfgreatplains@gmail.com

 

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About gfgreatplains

Hello. My name is Amanda. I'm one year gluten free, and can honestly say it's been a long time since I felt this good. This change was not by choice. When I first had the suspicion I needed to switch, I was so upset. You see, I LOVE to bake. I bake bread. I bake cupcakes. When the holidays roll around, I bake cookies like a fiend. I thought I would have to give all that up, and well, I really didn't want that to happen. But then I started researching and shopping and realized that I wouldn't be missing out on all that much. As it turns out, some of my already favorite foods are already Gluten Free! So when a doctor told me I needed to make the big change, I wasn't nearly as upset as expected. In fact, I was motivated. This was my new challenge. I'd been baking vegan for a while already, so Gluten Free should be no problem. My goal is to make (and photograph, as that is my another love) delicious Gluten Free goodies that EVERYONE, even those who can still have gluten can enjoy.
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One Response to Not what I wanted to be reading on National Celiac Awareness Day.

  1. Quick update: I emailed a link to my response directly to Robert Nelson who wrote the original article. Let’s see if he takes my challenge.

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