If gluten free is "over" - what's next?

photo credit: Women's Day magazine
I wanted to share some quotes from an article published in Canada's national paper today. I'll post a link to the full article at the end....  I simply want to ask the question: If this is true - how do you think those of us with celiac will fare when the gluten-free craze is over?

"The incidence of celiac disease, is believed to be four times as common today as it was 50 years ago. But representing only about 1 per cent of the population, those with celiac disease clearly aren’t the only ones propelling the market’s growth."

"An unknown number of people who suffer from allergies and other intolerances to the protein are also snapping up gluten-free products, while others are adopting a gluten-free diet for its perceived health and weight-loss benefits."

"According to a 2009 report, titled Gluten Free: Context, Insights and Predictions, sees gluten-free as something of a passing fad. The report predicted the interest in gluten-free dieting will peak at about 2012, and begin to peter out, as fad dieters and those interested in health and wellness drop away."

You can read the full article by Wency Leung for the Globe & Mail by clicking HERE

I must agree that gluten-free is not necessarily healthier. It depends what you choose to eat. I should also admit, there is a part of me that has been annoyed by manufacturers selling things like JAM as "gluten free". (That said, I recognize that it likely brought a lot of comfort to those who were new to the diet.) Apparently, we won't be seeing it much longer.

If 2012 is the year that gluten-free stops being so cool... what do you think the aftermath will be for those who NEED to be gluten-free for life?


gluten at home - what's your biggest challenge?

For my first 20 years on a gluten-free diet I lived at home. Meals, and what was in the larder was the domain of my mother. Sometimes I ate a different meal than the rest of my family, but it was more likely a variation - Chinese vermicelli rice noodles in place of pasta. In the 70's and early 80's that was the "pasta" available...I can't blame my family for not wanting to join me. I don't remember many other exceptions...My Mum wasn't interested in cooking two versions of everything - everyone had what I was having when it came to dinner.

Over the next 20 years I've lived in a variety of living arrangements. I've lived with roommates, stayed with families and spent a number of years on my own. Alone is by far the easiest gluten-free lifestyle - until you find someone who is quite happy to join you in your diet (with the occasional loaf of french bread on the side). I've arrived. Today the pasta is still rice, but everyone in our household eats it. It's good enough to serve to guests.

Everyone needs a safe place to call home, and I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am in this department. What do you find the biggest challenge when it comes living with others and having gluten in the house?


the work conference -byof (bring your own food!)

In February I was lucky enough to be able to escape chilly Toronto for a three day conference in balmy Texas. Work conferences are hardly a vacation... but it was nice to get out of dodge. 

As is customary, when I signed up for the conference I shared my dietary restrictions where they had indicated interest. The form said "please share any special diet needs" ... and so I did. 
I thought you might get a kick out of the outcome. At mealtimes they put out the food - along with a sign saying that it all contained gluten and lactose  (often spelled incorrectly).

Interestingly out of a conference with about 200 attendees, there were three of us that had requested gluten-free meals. There was typically a fruit platter served so I guess they thought they had us covered. At least I had others who could commiserate about the lack of things to eat! 

Surprisingly on the very last day boxed lunches were served and we were provided with "special" GF lunches. As the hotel had clearly not considered us for the other 3 days we were all a little hesitant to trust that the sandwich was safe to eat. Shame. 

Lesson: no matter how well you think you are prepared... pack a little something in way of emergency rations unless you want to live out of the mini bar.


Organic Works gluten-free raisin bread

Yummy cinnamon bread... and more importantly, good right from the bag (unlike many gf breads that I will only eat if toasted first). 

This bread had a texture that held together well with a nice flavour - that was not too sweet. Check out their website HERE to learn more about where you can find it in Canadian stores... or order this (and numerous products) online!


top 10 gluten-free snacks on the road

This is not about being healthy... I'm talking about when you're living out of a bag or backpack - in a car or stuck in airports. No fridge, no specialty food shops.... hard core gluten-free sustenance. In gas stations, airport news stands, convenience stores and tiny local market shops look for the following caloric fuel:
  • the banana or an apple
  • nuts, seeds & trail mix
  • V8 Vegetable or tomato juice
  • single serving yogurt or cottage cheese
  • cheese (cheese strings or babybel... sometimes!)
  • ice cream bar (read the label of course!)
  • regular (ideally unflavoured) potato chips
  • natcho chips (ideally unflavoured) 
  • popcorn
  • chocolate bar (more label reading)....

This is "survival" food - I'm not recommending that anyone should eat like this... but next time you find yourself in a panic for calories - it's good to know that there is always something that will do in a pinch. Let's face it, those donuts, danishes, and panini wrapped up in these fueling stops aren't all that fresh or appetizing either - we aren't missing much! 

Worth keeping in the glove box of your car (or your knapsack when traveling):
  • rice cakes (sealed they seem to keep forever).
  • plastic fork & spoon
  • travel knife
  • individually wrapped wet wipes

Click HERE to see my post about our last big road trip for more (and much healthier) ideas on what to pack when traveling... and I'd love to hear of some of your own!!


natural remedies for sore tummies and bad bellies

Keeping off the gluten is no guarantee that you won't find yourself with an occasional digestive upset. I thought I'd share a list of the remedies I'm quite partial to.

  • peppermint tea alleviates nausea, dizziness, sore stomach and gas.
  • chamomile relieves tension and soothes sore stomachs.
  • ginger eases nausea and aids in digestion. Hot water over grated ginger root works best.
  • fennel relieves gas and bloating. You can buy tea bags or pour water over fennel seeds and let steep.
  • Lemon stimulates and cleanses your system, in Italy they eat entire lemons to stop diarrhea.
  • For something more exotic, why not chew on some aromatic seeds like fennel, caraway & anise. These are often offered at the end of an East Indian meal to aid digestion and freshen your breath.
  • breathing - remember to breathe before you eat to help switch gears and relax your system.
  • chewing - digestion starts in the mouth... more work here means less for the stomach.
  • water - sip room temperature water vs very cold which is harder on the stomach and avoid large amounts with meals which dilute digestive enzymes.

    To keep your digestive tract happy, consider taking acidophilus to balance out the healthy bacteria in your system with some high quality unsweetened yogurt. You can also take acidophilus in capsule form (dairy free). This is an especially good idea after taking antibiotics which wipe out both the bad and the good in your system.

    If you have other tips and tricks for a happy belly please do share them with the rest of us in the comments!