Post # 169 Gluten Free the Way to Be?

September 23, 2013 at 1:55 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 169 Gluten Free the Way to Be?

Way back in the mid ’80s, I knew a woman who had such a terrible time with her gut that no doctor could tell her why.  Her symptoms were painful and alarming, and of such a delicate nature that she hesitated talking about it to anyone, except to say she didn’t feel well.  It impacted her life to such a degree that she barely had a life apart from working.

Then, out of the blue, a doctor said she was either allergic or sensitive to gluten.  She had a particularly bad form of celiac disease.  Once she started working with a nutritionist and avoiding foods with gluten, her life improved dramatically.  Of course, back then giving up gluten meant giving up practically everything.  Then after a couple of years, she started reintroducing gluten products into her diet to see what she could tolerate.  She found her happy balance and lived happily ever after.  I think.  We lost touch when I moved to Virginia.

Nowadays, it seems like everyone is at least aware of what gluten free is.  The trouble is that most people misunderstand what gluten free is about.  Gluten is simply the protein that is formed when you knead bread.  And for those who don’t know what that means, kneading bread dough means to move it and push it around, fold it and bend it, until the dough turns into a smooth elastic ball.  The gluten gives dough its structure and its heft.  As an example, when you pick up a slice of bread, it holds together without breaking from its own weight.  If you pick up a piece of well made pie crust, it breaks apart into a bazillion particles that fall down the front of your shirt and land on the floor.  Bread is kneaded; pie dough isn’t.  Is gluten necessary in foods?  Nope, but you sure hate eating bread without it.

But is gluten necessary for a healthy diet?  Or rather, can we eat healthy with a gluten inclusive diet?  Yup!  And it’s a resounding YUP!

The only real reason to eliminate gluten from your diet is if you’re allergic to it.  There is a full spectrum celiac disease from just a light intolerance to full-on “I wanna die every time I eat bread” kind of thing.  And with more people becoming aware of gluten’s impact on their diet, the food manufacturers are adding more gluten free selections on our grocery shelves.  That’s a good thing because it offers up so many more choices.  I’ve seen cupcake shops that offer gluten free cupcakes.  It’s all good.

So why talk about it now?  I was at a cookout this weekend.  Yes.  It was at my sister’s.  Yes.  We had burgers and dogs.  Yes.  It was the standard cookout she seems to host every weekend.  It’s a good time for all and they love doing it.  Everyone pitches in with food and beverages, cooking, prep, clean up.  I don’t think she does much more than organize.  But one of the other guests and I were talking about a gymnastics meet she had her kids at earlier in the day.  They were getting hungry so she went to the bake sale table because the proceeds went to the gymnastics foundation.  She bought two cupcakes and a brownie.  She looked me right in the eye.

“They were terrible,” she said.

“What was wrong with them?”

“They fell apart in our hands.  They didn’t taste good.  They were kind of gluey.”

“They were gluten free.” I said.

“Yeah, I found that out when I went back and saw the part of the table I chose from said gluten free.  But I thought that meant it was healthy.”

So many people believe that.  When you see the commercials on TV, they tend to be a misdirection.  I thought about it long and hard once and realized that there’s actually a very small market for gluten free products.  But if you give the impression that you’re eating healthy when eating gluten free, sales will sky rocket.  So the commercials only say “Thanks for offering a bigger gluten free selection for my family.  My kids can now eat better cereals.”  They don’t tell you that they eat better cereals because they’re allergic to gluten or have celiac disease.  They make you feel better for eating gluten free.

But it’s not necessary.  I’ve made gluten free items as part of a test group I’m in.  They were “okay” based on the how the recipe turned out.  But it was the only time I’ve made gluten free.  Gluten free doesn’t mean healthier.  As a matter of fact, the trend is to the opposite.  Most gluten free products don’t have some of the vitamin fortification that is standard in “regular” products.

To make myself clear, I’m not against gluten free.  I’ve actually had some gluten free stuff that didn’t taste like total “crap on a cracker.”  They were expensive, but tasted decent.  I’ve also had gluten free that really was “crap on a cracker.”  It depends on the recipe and the chef.

Lots of foods in their natural state are gluten free.  Lean beef, buffalo, all fish, most poultry, tons of vegetables including potatoes, tons of fruit including apples and bananas, some dairy but you have to check it, and nearly all grains and flours that DON’T INCLUDE WHEAT, BARLEY, OR RYE, as well as all beans, most nuts, and the list goes on.  Go to the internet and search on gluten free natural foods and select a reputable link and you’ll be surprised.

Since nearly everything in it’s natural state tends to be gluten free, eating “gluten free” can be healthy.  When you give up wheat, barley, and rye in your diet, eating tends to get very challenging.  No cakes, no cookies, no bread, no biscuits, no tortillas except corn, etc.  Oh, lord, I just realized.  No Twinkies!

But, if you don’t have an allergy, and you’re already eating healthy, giving up gluten is simply not necessary.

Hope this helped clear up some confusion because I know everyone who reads this was wondering about gluten, right?  Take care.

Enjoy!

So

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