Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Sad Tradeoff

I read an article about the rise of "Gluten Free" products, first by the small established companies, and recently by the larger companies, such as Girl Scout cookies, and even corporations. And while this is good, what I've learned in finding foods I can eat, it's often a wrong tradeoff.

While many people seek a gluten free diet out of choice or having Celiac disease, some people, like myself, it's not just about the gluten, it's about the grains, any grain and especially wheat, and about alternatives used for flour, such as rice, corn, potatoes, etc.

This is because the problems are the natural chemicals in many foods identified a few years ago by some Australian Gastroenterologists reseaching patients with Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS). They discovered the source of the problems were FODMAPS.

And why it's not gluten that's the problem but the grain itself. I've found I even have to eliminate grains and even some foods on the "approved" FODMAPS diet, like potatoes, all green or leafy vegetables, most fruit - except as jam where the cooking breaks down the chemicals, and other foods.

I've even found I've had to eliminated almost all spices, even those approved, except salt and just a touch of pepper, along with preservatives and many of the lesser ingredients often found in organic or natural foods and now as substitues in gluten free foods.

In short, you can write the foods I can eat on a 4x6 postit note with room for notes and doodles, but it's also a varied diet which is healthy and provides the wide ranges of nutrients, etc. a person needs. What it also does is restrict the vast majority of food and products sold in grocery stores.

And this includes many natural and organic foods because they often uses other grains, foods and spices to offset the loss of ingredients like meat, wheat, etc. In addition I have to check similar foods, like corn chips, corn tortillas, taco shells, etc., because of the other and lesser ingredients.

This has turned shopping into food experiments and reading lots of labels. One example I've found is that one of the few meats I can eat is sandwich ham, but only brands without the standard array of chemicals to preserve freshness, flavor, etc.

What this had done is made me a very conscious product and price shopper so I know where I can buy the foods I can eat for the cheapest prices, and means going to 3 different markets to fill the cabinets and refrigerator.

One good thing is that most of the foods are readily available while some are only sold at one of the stores if they stock it as I've found they rotate the stock and don't offer the product anymore and means shopping for an alternative.

Anyway, the point is that just getting rid of gluten doesn't solve the problem for some people, it's about the other foods, spices and chemicals often used as substitutes, and why you should always read the labels.

Gluten free doesn't mean wheat free or free of other grains or starches, or it's a cure all for people with IBS. It's often a tradeoff, sometimes a sad one because you end up not able to eat the old food and the new food too.

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