In my last post, I expressed how down I was about this new gluten-free labeling law passed by FDA, and how confused I was as to why there was so much celebration. To tell you the truth, I thought I would get a lot of backlash from the community due to my opinions. Which is why I backed up my emotions with some fact-based science. No matter what, I still needed to air my discomfort with this ruling, because my ultimate goal as a gluten-free advocate is to help people. Not to build a million-dollar business off of suffering souls. I want to free us (you and me) from the tolls that gluten has taken on our bodies. And as I already expressed, I don’t think the <20ppm ruling is helping anyone except for food manufacturers.
But instead of making enemies (or if I did, no one has spoken their mind to me), I actually ended up making quite a few new friends! I found out that I’m not alone anymore in my position on this. And it feels good. Well, pretty good. But I’m still upset and I still have a lot more to say.
See, I am no longer comfortable with the term “gluten-free.”
Go to any gluten-free expo, or walk down the gluten-free aisle of many grocery stores these days, and you’ll be bombarded with all kinds of processed foods that are no better than their gluten containing counterparts. Yes, I’m sure there are some exceptions, and being a harried mom, I do appreciate some convenient foods from time to time. But they have to be convenient AND nourishing. Minimally processed. Low in sugar. Nutrient-dense. Ingredients that I recognize.
The majority of “gluten-free” food products do not fit this profile.
I am worried that most people who have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, or an autoimmune disorder that prescribes a gluten free diet, or any of the other approximately 200 disorders associated with gluten, will stock up on these “gluten-free” (er, low-gluten… lets call it what it is) substitutes thinking that they are now going to get healthy. But in reality, they are likely prolonging the agony.
There must be some reason why 74 – 92% of people on the standard gluten-free diet don’t heal! We already talked about the fact that foods labeled gluten-free are not truly gluten-free. But what about all that other crap you find in gluten-free foods? Soy flour and/or protein, (yes, soy is crap: see here); xanthum gum (crap, too: see here); fructose (you guessed it: crap); not to mention all the ingredients whose names are not immediately recognizable. How are any of these ingredients supposed to help with the healing process, especially after gluten hasmade us really sick?
Because that is what we need to do, after we’ve found out that we need to go gluten-free. We need to heal! And since about 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, we need to pay special attention to what we’re putting in our gut! We need to watch out for cross-contamination whether in grains that are inherently gluten-free or in products labeled gluten-free (and may have up to 19 ppm of gluten in them).
We need to avoid other irritants to our guts, as well as other foods that we may have allergies to, thanks to gluten causing leaky gut. Our diet needs to be dominated by fresh, wholesome foods, cooked in our “celiac-safe” kitchens. And the majority of those foods should be vegetables and proteins that are naturally gluten-free. We need to stop trying to replicate the diet we knew before, heavily-laden with bread and bread-like food products, labeled “gluten-free” or not.
Now that the term “gluten-free” has gone mainstream, we will no doubt see even more food manufacturers rushing to get a piece of the profitable gluten-free pie, meanwhile having us believe that their product will help us. Instead, the fact there are now so many readily available, better tasting GF products than existed before (its because of the sugar!) is blurring the message as to WHY we are going gluten-free.
There are many reasons why we find ourselves on the gluten-free diet. Most people have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, and serious related health complications. A handful think they might lose weight. And a few others are trying it to see if it makes them “feel better.” Whatever the reason, spending too much time in the GF aisle of the grocery store is not going to help us reach any of these health goals. We need to go beyond the gluten-free food aisle and take serious control of our diets. Unfortunately most doctors don’t tell us that. And you can forget about hearing that from food manufacturers.
Please pledge with me that you’ll go beyond gluten-free. And if you need help with navigating that, that’s what this community is here for.