The Other Kind of Green Thumb

Ever eaten food that was supposedly gluten-free, but you still felt terrible afterward? This is one of the reasons I have chosen to stay away from foods labeled “gluten-free,” and instead eat foods that are naturally gluten-free. But I can only eat so many vegetables without feeling like I’m about to start sprouting broccoli from my ears and growing leafy-green fingers.

Luckily, my woes are about to be buried deep in the soil. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, today the FDA released a statement defining the term “gluten-free,” which sets a universal standard that Celiacs can trust to help them (us) maintain a truly gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free food is now defined by the FDA as food that is naturally gluten-free (my favorite), does not contain any ingredient that contains gluten, was made from a grain containing gluten that has not been processed to remove the gluten, or has been processed in this way, but if in using that ingredient, the food still contains 20 parts per million (a very small amount of contaminant) or more gluten. Food containing any gluten that just won’t go away (or, as the FDA calls it, “unavoidable”) needs to be less than 20 parts per million.

This doesn’t mean that anything that’s not marked gluten-free is verboten for Celiacs under penalty of stomachaches (and worse). Companies have the option to pursue labeling their foods gluten-free, and some might opt out. So the ingredients list will still help you decide whether certain foods are gluten-free (but if you’re hyper-sensitive to gluten, even if the ingredients list doesn’t include anything containing gluten, there’s still the risk of cross-contamination), with the added assurance that if foods are marked gluten-free, it’s been put to the test.

Will this make it more difficult to identify gluten-free foods quickly in stores? Possibly. Some companies might choose to not go through the trouble to label their product gluten-free, so we might be reading more ingredients lists. But since the gluten-free label is a fad these days (so, a big selling point), I’d be interested to see how many companies do indeed drop the gluten-free label.

Another new year, another diet resolution…

Almost everyone has, at one point, tried to stick to a New Year’s diet. And almost everyone has failed. Why is it so difficult to keep our New Year’s diet resolutions? If you have Celiac Disease and have been taking advantage of your last few days of wheat-eating freedom before the New Year–when you’ve decided you’re going to start your wheat-free diet–yours is a diet resolution that, if broken, could be very damaging. Here’s a tip for sticking to a gluten-free diet.

Be reasonable! One of the reasons people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions is because they are too ambitious. If you start out with ten different resolutions, it might be too overwhelming for you to try to change that many aspects of your life. Focus your energy on one instead, and stick to it. If you cheat, don’t give up on your entire resolution. Scold yourself, then accept that you cheated, and continue pursuing your resolution.

So if you have Celiac Disease and you accidentally eat soy sauce one day at lunch, don’t cave and have a meatball hero for dinner because you “already ate wheat products today anyway.” Make a note to buy some tamari sauce instead of soy sauce and stay away from wheat for the rest of the day. Just because you ate soy sauce doesn’t mean you’ve failed, or that eating gluten-free is an impossible task.

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I didn’t know what to eat. I didn’t want to eat frozen gluten-free foods all the time, because a lot of them contain more sodium than I should eat in one meal. But before I made myself a meal plan, I had to eat some frozen foods so that I didn’t starve myself while trying to eliminate wheat. I had to transition slowly. While I traded cabinets full of pasta for quinoa, I stocked up on frozen foods. They got me through the week while I went shopping for beans, rice, and veggies. So although my ultimate goal was to use Celiac Disease as a catalyst for healthy eating, I had to start off slowly eliminating the foods that I couldn’t–or didn’t want to–eat.

If I had started off not eating those frozen foods AND not eating gluten-free foods, I would have had empty pantries, no meal plan, a growling stomach, and would have ultimately given up and written off gluten-free eating as a starvation diet.

So my advice for starting a gluten-free diet after New Years is to not be too ambitious. Give yourself time to adjust, set a reasonable goal for yourself–one that you can actually keep–and give your body a chance to have a healthy new year.

Copyright © 2012 Celia Kay
 All Rights Reserved

Happy holidays!

Surviving round two of holiday feasts. Since starting this gluten-free diet, I’ve lost a bit of weight. Being small-framed to begin with, I’m looking forward to a little healthy holiday weight gain. As grandpa used to say, “Meat makes more meat!” Bring on the “roast beast.”

Copyright © 2012 Celia Kay
 All Rights Reserved

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving tends to be one time of year when there is an abundance of vegetables on the table. I’ll be trying out new ways to make some of those weird, rooty-looking veggies taste good (and, of course, using my family members as taste-testers). Yes, visions of warm, crispy dinner rolls have disintegrated into a delicious past…but that just means I’ll have more “room” for 30 pounds of turkey headed my way. Another thing I’m switching up–gravy! Instead of making gravy using wheat flour, I’m using gluten-free corn flour. It’s my first Thanksgiving as a Celiac–and I’m thankful that my impending food coma will be a result of deliciousness rather than wheat-induced fatigue!

Copyright © 2012 Celia Kay
 All Rights Reserved

Welcome to my new website!

Thank you for visiting CeliaKay.com! Please bear with me as I set up my new website. In the meantime, take a look at what I wish I’d known about Celiac Disease before I learned I had it, and let me know what kinds of things you’d like to hear about! You ask the questions, I’ll do the research.

You can also visit me on facebook to see what I’m up to.

Celia

 

Copyright © 2012 Celia Kay
 All Rights Reserved