Gluten-free and well-fed: the sneaky stuff
January 27th, 2011
03:30 PM ET
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Jennie Bragg is an Editorial Producer in CNN’s Money Unit. Previously - Celiac? To heck with that!

When it comes to food - and pretty much everything else in my life - I have always been a creature of habit. This gets me into what I refer to as food ruts; I eat the same thing for breakfast or lunch (or both) for days, weeks, even months at a time, until I wear myself out completely and decide I can’t stand the sight of said food anymore.

Such was the case recently with almonds. I loved them. I couldn’t get enough. I put them on yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and ate ‘em by the heaping handful. Then, out of nowhere, my almond joy vanished.

This is not the first time this has occurred. I have worn myself out on everything from soy crisps to dried apricots to a certain brand of vanilla yogurt. In college, I think I ate the same turkey sandwich for lunch for about a year.

These days, I attribute my rut-eating to the you-can’t-eat-that feeling I get when I walk into a grocery store, a restaurant, or the CNN cafeteria. I have been living with celiac disease and, as a result, eating gluten-free for quite some time now.

I’m not saying I get overwhelmed by a trip to the grocery store or a menu - I just get lazy. If I know what I am going to eat, and more importantly, what I CAN eat, I don’t have to read labels or ask multiple people whether or not this soup contains gluten. Finding the gluten in everyday foods can be a chore - sometimes, one I am not ready to take on.

Gluten hides in some not so obvious places. Not every brand has the same ingredients, but small amounts of gluten can be found in some things you would never imagine. Here are a few that threw me when I first started eating G-free:

  • Soy sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Ketchup, mustard and mayo
  • Salad dressing
  • Thickened soups and sauces (like gravy)
  • Processed meats
  • Non-stick spray
  • Non-food products (like lipsticks, shampoos and the adhesive on envelopes)
  • Please, FDA, won’t you implement a rule that forces all food manufacturers to label gluten ingredients? Nothing fancy. Perhaps a fun little grain symbol in the corner of the label?

    In the meantime, to ensure you are not ingesting any gluten, your best plan is to read the label on everything you eat. And if you aren’t sure about the ingredients in something you are about to shovel into your G-free pie hole - ASK!

    Good advice from the girl who eats the same salad for lunch everyday, huh? But quite frankly, it is difficult to keep my food detective hat on all the time. For the time being, I’m comfortable in my rut, thank you very much.

    Stay tuned as Jennie dishes on the gluten-free trend: when did G-free become sexy?

    Previously - Gluten defined and Celiac? To heck with that!

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    Filed under: Dietary Restrictions • FDA • Gluten-free

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      It really is hard to get used to a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. I was eating salmon a lot and it wasn't agreeing with me because it was he Atlantic salmon not the wild caught kind. I think I may be intolerant to to the dyes they put in the salmon so now I go wild caught which is a bit stronger than the Atlantic and we don't enjoy the taste as much. Also, the gluten free pasta is really good even my husband does not mind it but beware of the sauce. I thought the marinara sauce was safe but now I realize I have to go with the organic variety to be safe. Spicy foods and high fiber fruits and vegetables are off limits due to the terrible gas they cause me (maybe not everybody). Also, gluten-free does not mean dairy-free and vice versa. Some of the tricks I learned that work for me are taking Puristat multi-vitamin and mineral supplement with digestive enzymes. I also eat Chobani yogurt almost every day for the probiotics–which you get used to on the dairy side because the active cultures cancel out the dairy intolerance. When I cheat I take Lactaid and the 40 calorie Almond Breeze is easy to get used to. The dairy-free Lactaid ice cream is good but be careful not to eat too much. Better than Eggs in the carton cooked as an omelette with fennel seed and rosemary with tapioca bread for toast holds me over pretty good until lunch and the fennel seeds are a good gas controller. I also eat cream of rice mixed with blueberries, strawberries, or bananas for breakfast. Sometimes I add flax seeds and quinoa to the cream of rice. Also, Devrom and activated charcoal are good products to reduce foul oder from gas and the charcoal helps reduce gas when I want to indulge in healthy vegetables which cause flatulence of course I still rely on GasX after and Beano before eating. On the occasions when I break down and have a good roll or a dessert in a restaurant I take a product called Colonade- which is a fiber packet and tea bags used for a 14 day colon cleanse. Instead of doing the cleanse–which I recommend to clear the intestines of stuff that hangs out fermenting in there for those of you with gas issues–use the fiber packet at night half the packet (or a whole one if you did the cleanse previously it will not cause urgency in the middle of the night) and things will be eliminated from the small intestine so that you won't suffer the backlash of cheating as bad. The tea alone at night is good too if you need to eliminate early in the morning so you don't have to worry about where the bathrooms are once you are out and about. Two days before a long trip in the car (7 and 10 hour trips) I take the Colonade whole packet before breakfast and the tea bag just before bed two nights in a row so that I don't have to worry about having a bowel movement in a public restroom and my husband won't get mad because of the time spent in the bathroom. One last thing I learned that works for me is to avoid eating large meals. Better to eat smaller portions throughout the day to avoid urgent bathroom or frequent bathroom stops. Gluten free pretzels and small portions of almonds or walnuts make good snacks as well as yogurt. I tried the gluten free cake and muffin mixes which are a treat for us gluten-free, dairy-free people although others may find them bland. My problem is I eat the whole batch because I deprived myself so long they are irresistible. Now I try to freeze the left overs right away so I don't go over board. Even eating too much of these can make me suffer. We used to like the marinated chicken and turkey products from the super market but they have additives so I don't buy them anymore. Lactose intolerant people can't eat any four legged creatures so beef, and pork products are off limits. I can have turkey bacon once in a while but not too frequently which is a treat for me when I start getting bored. I keep tuna, salmon in a can (although now I wonder if it is ok), kipper snacks, and sardines on hand for those times when I haven't shopped in a while and I need a healthy lunch. Spinach and green leafy vegetables are tolerable. Gluten free mayo and gluten free peanut butter on gluten free bread works. Also, I keep frozen shrimp and scallops in the freezer for a quick snack or over rice pasta with olive oil or organic marinara sauce for something different than the usual fish, chicken, and turkey meals. I hope this helps some of you out there who just found out they need to go on a dairy-free, gluten-free diet. At first you only hear about all the things you can not eat and it seems like there is nothing left to eat. The gluten free and dairy free options out there are a big help. They are not as delicious as the real thing but are better than nothing. Good luck and good health. For Allergy Labels.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:25 am |
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