Helpful Resources

No one wants to feel like they are on their own when trying to understand and deal on a day to day basis with a challenging health issue.  There is a growing resource for those of us dealing with Gluten sensitivity and or Celiac diesease.  This blog post was created with the intention of providing helpful, informative information.

I have spent hundreds of hours pouring over information to bring you what I feel is the most up to date and relevant information that is helpful for you.  Please continue to search through the blog pages, I think you will find something helpful.

Are you looking for a support group?  The Gluten Intolerance Group of North Texas is a support group with regular meetings.  You might check out the information on finding a restaurant, recipes and special events.  gluten.net

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free Snacks and eating on the run

Travel Snacks Gluten Free

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Snacks – don’t leave home without them.  There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a situation where you are hungry,  your will power is waning, and there is nothing to eat but fast food.  You think to yourself; “Oh, how I wish I had put some snacks in my bag”.  Below is a helpful list of ideas for packing snacks as well as eating on the run ideas, put together from reading on line different fast food restaurants about their ingredients in the food, and trying to make the best decision for gluten free that I could.  Of course ingredients may change, restaurants may change their recipe at any moment, and therefore I encourage you to ask questions (as you are use to doing already) about the specific item you choose.

First off, its easier and cheaper to carry snacks with you.  Load up your back pack with Raw nuts – they last a long time and of course need no refrigeration.  A small handful of raw nuts could make the difference in assisting your will power.  Apples, baby carrots, Celery sticks, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, zucchini sticks, kale chips all travel well enough for a day or so.  Peanut butter and almond butter are sold in little packs similar to ketchup packs,  thereby making them a very easy for dipping  carrots, apples, or celery into on the go.

Chick-fil-A: will sell you a grilled chicken breast without the bun, or a salad with grilled chicken.  Last checked, their chicken was gluten free.

Boston Market has many options for gluten free, rotisserie chicken, fruit salad, green beans, corn, cinnamon apples, and they state that non of their gravies, or dressings contain gluten.

Chipotle Mexican Grill: order the bowl with any meat, veggies and sides – just no tortillas.

Chili’s bar and grill:  they have a gluten free menu here.  Last I checked their ribs were on this menu.

Red Lobster has a gluten free menu.

Jasons Deli caries gluten free bread for their sandwiches, and has a delicious salad bar.  I can’t help myself sometimes to a sandwich, but I always remind them about the allergies, and to please keep it from touching the prep board.  Actually I say, “I understand that you guys know what to do with gluten allergies, and are good about changing the gloves and keeping my sandwich free of gluten crumbs.  I appreciate that.”

On the subject of salad bars, I am often dissatisfied in the placement of the crouton bowl. As it goes with people reaching for things with little plastic tongs, bits get dropped on to other things and no one would think this is problematic.  Crumbs from croutons seem to hide and stick to anything.  As you know it’s not just a crumb.  It has already been studied that 1/8 of a thumbnail size of gluten is enough to set off the inflammatory response.  It does matter!

As far as eating steak, chicken or any other protein source for that matter, you need to ask about marinades, and seasonings.  Often they may use soy sauce for instance in their marinades, and or use a dusting of flour prior to grilling, as if often the case with fish.  The chef knows the answer to these questions.  I have been surprised lately to see things that I would have assumed were naturally gluten free; such as grilled Asparagus listed as not gluten free.  It just depends on what they have put on it, and or where it was cooked.  Many restaurants do not have a separate kitchen, and therefore cross contamination with certain foods may be the reason it’s listed as not gluten free, when you think it should be.

Enjoy the healthy benefits of cooking at home as much as possible, and when out and about, be prepared, and always ask questions before consuming.  Chefs and ingredients may vary, be aware.   

 

 

 

The Pizza experience

gluten free pizza

Gluten free pizza and Red Bridge Beer

The Pizza Pub experience

Sometimes you are just in the mood for a great pizza.  Sometimes you are in the mood for that whole neighborhood quaint pizza pub environment as well.  There is something about the smell of garlic, fresh bread, melting cheese, exposed red brick walls, high top pub tables and stools, and a cold beer.  Okay, so I’m a bit of a romantic looking for more than the big chain pizza store experience.

Once gluten free you may think these environments and foods are a thing of the past.  However, we happened upon just such a place one evening, or at least close to it, at Palio’s Pizza cafe at Preston and Park.  They claim to have put in the hours of research and development choosing just the right gluten free crust, and not just choosing the “typical” gluten free crust,  the one size only version that  every one else serves – that we are so tired of by now.  We decided to give it a try.
There were several options including vegetarian, as well as more of the gourmet toppings that are more to my liking, and what I try to create at home.  I recommend the Cade & Blake Pesto.  BYOB if you wish, and enjoy.
Let’s talk beer, since it seems to be the beverage of choice alongside pizza.   For those of you wondering if there is a beer that is gluten free, there are a few.  Often Red Bridge is available where they sell gluten free pizza, and serve beer, and in a very cold frosty mug – it passes. If you can get more options or can bring your own, I prefer Green’s dubbel dark ale, as I was formerly in love with dark ale beers before giving up gluten.  There is a beer on the market that uses low-protein barley that has enzematicly broken down the gluten and proteins.  In my opinion, I feel that the immune system will still create an immune/inflammatory response in many.  
When I create a pizza at home, I use Udi’s frozen pizza crust, a homemade pesto, goat cheese, roasted garlic, such as mushroom, and olives, artichokes etc.  The trick to using the frozen crusts is to push it off of the baking sheet in the last few minutes to the wire rack of the oven to really crisp up the crust.   
It should be noted that Palio’s does not have a separate kitchen for their gluten free pizza cooking, and though they make every effort to keep it safe for us (such as using clean gloves, and clean utensils) cross contamination is always possible in this kind of situation.  

Arsenic in our food

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Rice Fields Gunma, Japan.

When I first heard the news that they have discovered Arsenic in our food, most recently rice and rice products I was in shock, and disbelief.  More disturbing however, is the fact that choosing gluten free options for food products often results in consuming foods made from rice.  Depending on the individual and family this could amount to a lot of rice consumption.

Consumer Reports investigated 200 samples of rice products.  They included iconic labels and store brands, organic and conventional ones.  In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms.  We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern.

Is there a “safe level” for arsenic exposure?  The Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” levels of exposure.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recognizes arsenic and arsenic compounds as group 1 carcinogens.  Excretion of arsenic occurs in the urine and long-term exposure to arsenic has been linked to bladder and kidney cancer in addition to cancer of the liver, prostate, skin, lungs, and nasal cavity. (The Tox Guide for Arsenic  2007).

Other countries such as Bangladesh have had widespread arsenic contamination of groundwater leading to arsenic poisoning.  In the U.S., arsenic is most commonly found in the ground waters of the southwest.  Knowing that rice is grown in water-flooded conditions, it therefore makes since that arsenic would  be easily taken up.

Arsenic has many uses, including surprisingly agricultural uses as an insecticidal.  Consumer Reports stated the U.S. is the worlds leading user of arsenic, and since 1910 about 1.6 million tons have been used for agricultural and industrial purposes.  Residues from the decades of use of lead-arsenic insecticides linger in agricultural soil today, even though their use was banned in the 1980’s.

In the U.S. as of 2010, about 15 percent of rice acreage was in California, 49 percent in Arkansas, and the remainder in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.  That south-central region of the country has a long history of producing cotton, a crop that was heavily treated with arsenical pesticides for decades in part to combat the boll weevil beetle.  (Consumer Reports)

I was surprised to learn that  arsenical ingredients in animal feed to prevent disease and promote growth are still permitted.  I thought that organic rice will be the savior here, but alas, even products with organic rice when tested did not fare well.  

Generally babies first solid food is rice cereal.  Several baby food products tested contained worrisome arsenic levels.  

How to protect yourself and your family 

suggestions listed here in italics from Consumer Reports:

Certainly test your water if you are have a well.  There is a federal Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.  Personally I think it makes since to filter any water consumed.

Change the way you cook rice.  You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking, using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining excess water afterward.  Research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic content.  This seems like a simple reasonable suggestion that I think I will try.  

Eat a varied diet.  Some vegetables can accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil.  The FDA’s Total diet Study, provides more complete information about arsenic content in a variety of foods.  Go to fda.gov and search for “total diet study analytical results.”

Experiment with other grains.  Though not arsenic-free, wheat and oat tend to have lower levels.  

Other gluten grains such as quinoa, millet, and amaranth unfortunately have not been studied as much.  These are the go to gluten free grains when rice is not an option.

I plan to check out the total diet study analytical results.  I also plan to make attempts at varying my diet to include a wide variety of leafy veggies and different gluten free grains.  Cooking rice on the occasion I want it, with significantly more water seems to be an easy option.  Cutting out my rice protein powder and my rice milk, once a significant part of my diet, will be easy enough.  I am assuming that the more changes I make, will cut down on the levels of arsenic that my body must process.

The community of people that have chosen to remain gluten free for health and allergy concerns is a resourceful group. We as a group are use to thinking outside the box, and choosing “alternative” food choices.  I refuse to go negative, thinking such things as, it is already hard enough to be gluten free, without worrying about toxins.   I am convinced that as we emerge a more aware, choosy consumer, companies will begin to deliver cleaner healthier products.

A closing interesting side note to all of this is how the human body clears toxins such as arsenic.  Inorganic arsenic and it’s compounds upon entering the food chain are progressively metabolized to a less toxic form of arsenic through a process of Methylation. (Life Sciences 7: 165-229)

 This subject of the Methylation pathway catches my attention, as it continues to come up in areas of interest I have been focusing on.  Methylation denotes the addition of a methyl group to a substrate.  In short it is one of the ways we detoxify.  Without adequate ability to methylate we have impaired detoxification systems, immune system mal-function, our ability to repair cells and and fight against oxidative stress is hampered.  

Dr. Kendal Stewart has discovered in clinical practice that a large majority of Autistic Spectrum disorders, he feels are in part a results of impaired Methylation.

What does this mean for all of us?  We live in a toxic environment   We can try to make alterations when possible, and the rest is left up to our body systems to handle.  Some body systems work really well at this, others not so much.  You will most likely know if you are one of those that seems to have more bad days than good lately.  You will most likely know if you are one of the ones that needs to be more vigilant at making clean choices more than others.  

If you are interested in discussing this further, such as testing choices, activated vitamins, and detoxification help; feel free to make a Naturopathic appointment on my web site www.CreateWellnessDallas.com and chose the link to Schedule Now.