Monday, June 27, 2011

Read, Read and Read!

There are quite a few things to learn while on The Gluten Free Experience trip so I hope I'll be able to bring some enlightening information or news throughout my postings.

Some people really do not realize how hard it is exactly to live a gluten free life style. It really is not about just reducing the gluten you get in your diet, it's about getting rid of it completely. When you are required to go down this path it's because your body is not able to process the gluten protein that some grains carry such as wheat, barley, rye and spelt (there are more so read up and learn about them).

That brings the reason for my topic of this post. READ, READ and READ! I can't stress this one factor more clearly. Even when buying 'fresh' meat products, READ THE INGREDIENTS. Gluten is hidden in so many products in so many different forms for so many different reasons that you have to make time to read labels! My biggest tip, if it doesn't have an ingreditent list or doesn't clearly state '100%' of what ever it is, simply don't buy it. There is more than enough of a selection that you can just skip 1 or 2 products and choose something else.

Even if you have read the same label 40x's, read it again even a week later because not only is gluten hidden in so many things but it's also likely to creep back up in some form when a company changes factories or even when they change their recipe even slightly. I've had this happen so many times in the years I have lost track of exactly how much.

 ♥ Doritos Chips (exception 'all natural' style). These at one point was something I could eat... in the beginning. Then they changed their recipe (I still check the ingredient list every few months though because these are one of my favorite chips) and it started to include 'aromas with wheat' and again a year or so later they changed the recipe again and now fully include wheat as an addition to the ingredients.

 ♥ Processed Lunch Meats. ANYTHING processed, be especially careful of the label. Lunch meats are something we that eat meat, eat often if not daily. These are probably the worst item when it comes to labels. Even if it's something as plain as chicken breast because they add things to it to 'bulk' it up... again comes to the 'keep the price low while making it seem that they are selling you more' reasoning. Also these are the worst when it comes to 'made in a factory of' warnings. The reason for this is because typically if they offer a 'plain' flavor, they also offer seasoned ones and those tend to have wheat added in some form and thus cross contamination happens and the factory warning shows up.

 ♥ Sausages. Aaaaa who doesn't love a good ol' brat worst or chicken sausage on the grill?? BE CAREFUL! Almost any pre-made sausage is again bulked! Added to it can be so many things that are gluten based it's not funny! Breading (yes actual bread), flour, bread crumbs, wheat dextrose and so many more. Your safest bet to get these yummy summer grillin' treats is either buy a sausage grinder and learn how to make them yourself or have the luck I do with a number of fresh butchers that will make a 100% meat filled sausage for you (or will offer to make them with products you bring in that are gluten free if it really needs something to stabilize it like say meat loaf).

♥ Sauces. You thought sausages are bad? Sauces (powder or liquid form) are most likely just as bad if not worse. In my thoughts, worse to be quite honest. Why? Because even something as simple as every day mayo, which if real should only have eggs and oil), can carry some form of gluten even just in the way they try to thicken it. Powder forms are worse then liquid style ones though because they add gluten style products to it in order to make it thick when you start to cook it according to their directions. Not all sauces have gluten in them and some are even marked that they are especially good for a gluten free diet (I suggest checking out Heinz because at least in the country I live, they actually have the sauces marked if they are gluten free). Your chances to find a sauce that doesn't have gluten in them lay in the ones that are 'clear'... sauce as sweet & sour sauces or other vinegar based sauces. More chances that it WILL have gluten if it's a mayo based sauce and even more if it's a powder form of sauce.

 ♥ Sandwich salad spreads. These go along the lines of being difficult because most of them are again mayo based or worse, they make the traditional 'fake' style crab salad and that stuff is made with wheat to give the bulk factor again and thus most salads carry a 'made in a factory of' warning even if there is no gluten in it.

Above are just some of the things I've run into over the years. I'm sure there is more and as time goes I'll post about them. But it still comes down to READ, READ and READ! Even if you've 'been buying it forever', unless it is a specially made gluten free product, read the label time and time again! They change so often and there are so many hidden dangers. I know it takes time and sometimes you don't have it, that is what makes this diet so hard to follow sometimes. MAKE TIME. If you are going to go shopping, don't make it a quick trips, make it a 'I've got a spare hour' trip. It'll save a lot of hassle in the end. And it does get easier as time goes on to eat and live this way in every aspect you can image... I promise this.

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