If you are gluten free, a parent or relative or someone who is gluten free, in process of becoming gluten free or following one or more gluten free blog sites like mine on Twitter or Facebook, you probably have heard mention of the ABC Nightline clip from last week titled, “Is Gluten-Free Good?”
If you have not had the pleasure of viewing this clip, please, by all means, take a moment and view it now…it will make tonight’s post easier to follow.
The article begins by identifying a gluten free diet as “The hottest diet trend,” and ends by identifying going gluten free as “the latest dietary fad.” Literally, from beginning to end, being gluten free is belittled into another silly Hollywood fad.
I have said it before and I will say it again, DIET is a four letter word in my house. I am not on a diet.
If there was one thing I wish I could get the media to understand, being gluten free is not a DIET, it is a lifestyle. There is a big, no, HUGE difference.
A diet is a temporary thing that one goes on in effort to lose weight, put on muscle, lower cholesterol, sugar intake or something in that regard.
A lifestyle is something we do from now until we die. It is a way of living that might set us apart from the rest of the population, but does not inherently mean our differences are bad.
I love that they brought Elizabeth Hasslebeck into the program. A living example of the importance of being self aware, like me, Ms. Hasslebeck is a self diagnosed celiac. While reports may have later confirmed this diagnosis for both of us, it took self discovery, intuition and initiative before our doctors would even consider celiac as a prognosis.
Ms. Hasselbeck has also written a book about living gluten-free in a glutinous world titled The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, a book which proved vital for me in the early stages of my transition into a gluten-free lifestyle. While Ms. Hasslebeck discusses the importance of replacing glutinous foods in your transition, she also speaks animatedly about living a healthy life. She speaks openly about the wonderful blessing that comes from eating whole foods, as most whole foods are naturally gluten free. And while in her interview, Ms. Hasselbeck does say “make sure you are eating a balanced meal” there is absolutely no focus on what an actual day to day celiac or gluten-free lifestyle consists of.
There are so many great options for us and so many things we don’t have to change about our healthy eating habits. So long as we focus on the essential gluten free foods like fruits, vegetables and other non-processed whole foods readily available to us worldwide, we surely will never be without.
Somehow though, none of this made it into the six minute clip.
In fact, it takes nearly 2 minutes for the word celiac to even appear in the report.
And then to argue that there is no benefit seeking a gluten free lifestyle who does not have celiac disease? Bringing in an expert to say that a gluten free diet is potentially dangerous? Surely, because this lifestyle strays from the norm, there must be something wrong with it, right?
Now I’m getting upset. ..downright angry. Try telling my children’s grandmother that cutting gluten out of her diet hasn’t helped her rheumatoid arthritis at all…try telling my friend that eliminating gluten didn’t help her endometriosis to slow or her pains to go away…try telling my other friend that the improvements she has seen in her autistic child since eliminating gluten from their home are all in her head. Go ahead, you tell them, I’ll sit back and see what they have to say.
There are reasons I needed more than a week to respond appropriately. .. Frankly, I needed a bit of time just to calm down well enough to respond effectively.
Now, before I go on, let me step back for a moment and acknowledge that Dr. Green likely sat through a 30-60 min interview, of which only about 50 seconds were included in this report. I do not know what his full intent was, and quite possibly his feeling about a gluten free lifestyle is nothing like what was reflected in this report. Dr. Green is an expert in celiac research and well respected in his field. It saddens me to see his statements reported as they were here…that being said, I must work with what was actually given by this report…
Let’s take a moment to cover some of the concerns discussed by Dr. Green as shown in this clip…
Dr. Green says a gluten free diet lacks fiber…
Okay…well, let’s look at a few key items.
1. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes are not only naturally high in fiber, they are naturally gluten free. If you are living a gluten free lifestyle, you likely are eating as many, if not more of these staples on a day to day basis than your glutinous counterparts.
2. Whole grains like Buckwheat, Millet, Corn, Quinoa (yum), Brown Rice and Wild Rice are not only readily used in a gluten free lifestyle, they are also extremely high in fiber and great providers of nutrients like Vitamin B.
…did you just say “Vitamin B?”
Why yes, yes I did.
Dr. Green argues that a gluten free diet is potentially b-vitamin deficient.
Oh really? Hmmm… Well which foods are naturally good sources of Vitamin B then?
A quick Google search reveals various lists of natural sources of Vitamin B, but to narrow it down, here are just a few of the items I came across:
Leafy green vegetables, cantaloupe, asparagus, beets, broccoli, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, millet, soy products, nutritional yeast, peanuts, oysters, beef liver, chicken, salmon, potatoes, eggs, avocados, oranges… These are just some of the items that appear on the list. And so long as you do not include wheat, barley or rye in your list of whole-grains, each and every one of these is naturally gluten free!!
Wait. You mean to say there are lots of ways to get my vitamin b without having to take pills or digest gluten??
Why yes, yes there are.
Okay, so what about calcium? Dr. Green says a gluten free diet is likely calcium deficient.
Not once does this report identify the fact that celiac disease, when left untreated, leads to mal-absorption which is reflected in individuals on varying levels. For me, it was a lifetime battle with iron-deficiency anemia. And while this is the only deficiency I was overly aware of, it is just as likely that my body was not absorbing other vital nutrients, like calcium, and had I been tested it might have been viewed that my diet was lacking in these nutrients (even if it wasn’t my diet at all)…of course, now that I think about it, given the number of broken bones in my past, I am amazed that I was never tested for calcium deficiency…
Anyhow. Calcium intake is actually a subject I am quite engulfed in, not because of my diagnosis, but because I have spent the last 5 and a half years ensuring my dairy free daughter is receiving sufficient amounts of calcium and arguing to health professionals, school administrators and daycare providers that the foods I provide for her are not only just as good as the cow protein alternatives, they are quite often better overall.
1 cup of milk provides 300 milligrams of calcium, 1 cup of enriched rice, soy or almond milk provides an equal amount of calcium yet has lower saturated fat and zero cholesterol.
Oh, and none of these contain gluten. So while there is a strong correlation between celiac disease and milk allergies, I’m still trying to understand how a gluten free lifestyle is in anyway lower in calcium than one that contains gluten.
Just to make sure, in case you are one of those (like me) who don’t drink a lot of milk throughout the day…what are other naturally gluten free sources of calcium?
In addition to sources like calcium-fortified orange juice, 10 medium dried figs provide almost as much calcium as one glass of milk as well. Then there are brazil nuts or hazelnuts, salmon, broccoli, kale, bok choy, celery, green beans, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, navel oranges, raisins, almonds, pinto beans, chick peas and tofu; all of which are not only gluten free, these are all dairy free as well.
So what is it I am missing?
Really, what it boils down to is making good decisions, no matter your dietary needs.
If your gluten free diet is heavily laden with tapioca starch, potato starch, corn starch, arrowroot starch, any other type of starch that does not provide the fiber, vitamins and nutrients their whole food counterparts offer; then yes, you need to make better selections!
You will see that a vast majority of my recipes include things like coconut flour and almond flour in them. Not only are these flours high in fiber, they also provide a higher amount of protein and healthy fats than even whole-wheat flour provides. These flours are easy to work with and taste really good with little mixing or other flours added to make them work.
With an appropriate amount of research and a sufficient amount of time to really speak regarding the subject of a gluten free lifestyle, one might just discover that living gluten free is not only healthy…it likely is the healthier choice for anyone who decides to follow it, 100%.
ABC, media moguls, what is it going to take to get you to understand this is not a fad?! Gluten free is a way of life…and you know what? It is a good way to live.
Whew. So glad I got that off my chest.
Now…tonight I would like to share with you a simple recipe that is a must have this holiday season.
With just two weeks until Thanksgiving, I don’t have much time to share with you the delicious dishes we will be having…luckily though, I am a try-ahead, plan ahead type girl. In the next two weeks, I will be posting more than usual to make up for the lack of time between now and then…in the next two weeks, you will also become familiar with the recipe I am going to share with you tonight, as it is a must have for the pies we will be enjoying this holiday season.
Whatever you use this for, chocolate pudding pie, apple streusel or even your moms famous pumpkin pie, I have no doubt you will find this simple crust to be as delightful to make as it is to taste.
Be sure to keep reading beyond the recipe, I am happy to say I have one more surprise in store!
Easy as Pie (Crust) (Gluten Free, Diary Free, Soy Free, Vegan)
1 ½ c Blanched Almond Flour
¼ c Coconut Oil, softened
2 TBS Agave Nectar
Heat oven to 350f. In large bowl, mix all ingredients together until ball has formed. Press dough evenly into 9” pie pan. Form edges as pictured below (optional).
For recipes requiring baked crust, bake 7-12 minutes until golden brown. Watch edges, if edges brown too quickly, carefully cover edge with aluminum foil and allow the remainder of the crust to turn golden.
For recipes requiring unbaked pie shell, chill crust for about 1 hour before adding filling.
I said I had one more surprise in store for you tonight, didn’t I? I do!
It is time to announce this month’s giveaway!! To show how great Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s book is, one lucky person is going to receive a copy of her bestseller: The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide.
And, to make it interesting, I am going to give you three ways to enter! Each action counts as 1 entry.
1. Tweet about this giveaway on twitterand be sure to include @andloveittoo so I see it.
2. Post about this giveaway on Facebook and share on my FB wall by tagging me so I see it (type: @and love it too, click on my blog name so it hyperlinks to my page, it will also automatically post to my page this way).
3. Leave a comment on this post regarding what kind of pie you most look forward to this holiday season. Who knows, you may just inspire me to try something new as well!
All entries must be made by 11:59pm CST on 11/20/2010 to be valid.
Have a great night everyone! I look forward to hearing from you!