Mar 9, 2020

Gluten-Free Is Medicine for Me

Imagine having a disease that can be treated entirely by the food you eat. Imagine not needing prescription medicines or having to deal with the side effects from medicine that can often be worse than the symptoms you are trying to treat. You have heard about the healing power of food, but have you heard of a disease that can be healed by only food? Does this sound too good to be true?

This is exactly the case with celiac disease. The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong 100% gluten-free diet. Celiac is an autoimmune disease where eating gluten damages the villi of the small intestine, resulting in malnutrition and any of over 300 possible health symptoms. Since tests for celiac disease are only accurate while still eating gluten, it is essential to get tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten-free diet. Ask your doctor to order the celiac disease panel, which is a simple blood test.

The great news is that there are so many choices for finding delicious gluten-free food. It does require vigilance to ensure the food you order at a restaurant or buy in a store is truly gluten-free and not impacted by cross-contamination. However, you will quickly learn the best questions to ask for your safety. Gluten-free is medicine for me. Is it your medicine too?

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Dec 29, 2019

Should I Try a Gluten-Free Diet?

Are you thinking of trying a gluten-free diet as a New Year’s resolution or because you think it is a cool trend? Are you wondering if a gluten-free diet is a weight loss diet? Here’s what you need to know before trying a gluten-free diet.

1. Get tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten-free diet. Testing for celiac disease is only accurate if you are still eating gluten.

2. Eating gluten-free is not a weight loss diet, fad or trend. If this is your reason for trying a gluten-free diet, you will be highly disappointed with the results if you don’t have a medically necessary reason for following a gluten-free diet.

3. Gluten-free foods are not healthier choices. In fact, many gluten-free products may be unhealthier than their gluten counterparts and lacking in fiber. There is no benefit to choosing a gluten-free dessert, pizza or bread when you aren’t intolerant to gluten. In fact, this choice will likely be more expensive.

4. Determining if a food is gluten-free can be complicated. Do you know how to determine if oats are safe or unsafe? Do you know all the ways gluten can be hiding in foods, such as malt in Rice Krispies? Do you know how to prevent cross-contamination?

5. If you tested positive for celiac disease, then you need to follow a 100% gluten-free diet. This is the only treatment for celiac disease. Use this gluten-free guide to get started.

6. If you tested negative for celiac disease, but think your health symptoms may be caused by gluten, you could have gluten sensitivity. Here’s what Beyond Celiac recommends for diagnosing non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
“Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is diagnosed by process of exclusion. Experts recommend that you first get tested for a wheat allergy and for celiac disease. If both of those are negative, then your doctor may recommend a gluten elimination diet. If symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet, then you likely have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It is very important that a knowledgeable physician oversee this entire process, which can help to omit patients self-diagnosing themselves and to reduce the likelihood of a placebo effect occurring during dietary intervention.”

Now that you have the facts, will you still choose a gluten-free diet?  

Dec 13, 2019

10 Gluten-Free Predictions for the New Decade

Whether 2020 will be your first year eating gluten-free or you have been eating gluten-free for over a decade (like myself), the new year and new decade offer many gluten-free possibilities. While there have been major improvements in gluten-free life in the last decade, there are far more gluten-free advances that are necessary. Imagine how fantastic gluten-free life will be in 2029 when hopefully most of these gluten-free predictions become a reality! 

Here are my gluten-free predictions in random order. Which ones do you hope will come true? What would you add to this list?

1. Significant increase in the number of Americans diagnosed with celiac disease.

2. Broader awareness of celiac disease symptoms, treatment, and health complications.

3. Gluten disclosed on all medication labels.

4. More colleges offering dining halls that are gluten-free, allergen-free, and vegan, following the examples of the University of North Texas and Michigan State.

5. Gluten-free meals and snacks widely available at hospitals, nursing homes, school cafeterias, work cafeterias, sports and entertainment venues, airlines, hotels, and programs for feeding the homeless.

6. The celiac pill will be available. One option could be available as early as 2021, while a vaccine is being fast-tracked by the FDA. 

7. We will see a big increase in 100% gluten-free restaurants as well as many restaurants adding gluten-free menus without cross-contamination that are truly safe for people with celiac disease.

8. Store brand products will be commonly labeled as gluten-free, offering a much-needed way for gluten-free consumers to save money. 

9. The FDA will enforce proper use of the gluten-free label.

10. Tasty new gluten-free products will meet the demands of many special dietary needs, including vegan, keto, plant-based, allergen-free, low sugar, low carb, and more.

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Jan 3, 2019

Alert: Mama Lucia Meatballs Removes Gluten-Free from Packaging

We love Mama Lucia All Beef Meatballs found in the frozen foods section of Safeway and Giant. They are delicious with pasta and in open-faced meatball subs with Udi’s Gluten Free hot dog buns. When I went to buy Mama Lucia Meatballs last night, I was shocked to see that gluten-free has been removed from the front of the All Beef package. I searched the package, and gluten-free is nowhere on the new package! 

Are Mama Lucia Meatballs still gluten-free? Here are the three email replies I received today from a conversation with a Quaker Maid Consumer Affairs representative, with the most recent reply last.
Thank you for contacting us regarding the Mama Lucia All Beef Italian Style Meatballs. Your comments are appreciated. The “Gluten-Free” notation has been removed from the new packaging, however, the formulation and ingredients are the same. This all beef meatball is still gluten-free. Please accept my apology for the confusion.” 
I understand that such packaging notation are very important and I’m sorry for any stress this has caused you. The change was made when the package sizes were updated and with the idea that new items may be added to the meatball facility sometime in the future. There has not been any manufacturing change at this point. Because this might mean the facility will no longer be strictly gluten-free, they considered this change very carefully and did not come to this decision lightly. At this time and in the near future you can be assured that all Mama Lucia Meatballs are gluten-free including the All Beef variety. It will be important to watch the BACK of the package where allergens are listed.” 
Yes they are tested. Nothing is changing! Be assured that the meatballs you have are gluten-free, we are still producing all meatballs that are gluten-free.”
While I would like to trust the company that the product is still gluten-free, my 12 years of eating gluten-free tells me otherwise. Why would you take gluten-free off the package if your product is still gluten-free now? I can’t help but wonder if there is more they aren’t saying. Is it safe for celiac disease? They are clearly saying that their manufacturing may change in the near future when they introduce gluten products, so even if they are gluten-free now, they likely will not be in the near future due to cross-contamination. 

I asked multiple times if gluten-free is being removed from all of their meatball products or only the All Beef ones, but I did not receive a response. None of the photos on their website have gluten-free on any of the packages anymore. Their website FAQ now says, “There are no wheat or gluten ingredients in the products.”

My recommendation is to continue always reading ingredients and start searching for a different brand of gluten-free frozen meatballs. For brands, if you value your gluten-free consumers, don’t remove gluten-free from the package and expect them to keep buying it!

May 30, 2017

Celebrating 10 Years of Gluten-Free: 10 Things I’m Thankful For

As Celiac Awareness Month ends, this is the perfect time to reflect on how gluten-free life has improved in the past 10 years. It was 2007 when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease. At the time, I remember how hard it was to find gluten-free products in local stores, let alone delicious tasting ones. I remember family members helping me to research online about celiac disease and buying products for me to try.

In December 2008, I started my blog to focus on the positive side of gluten-free life. I never could have imagined then that starting my blog would ultimately lead to a new career for me in social media. You may remember the reviews my daughter did of gluten-free books for kids when she was in elementary school. Now, she is a freshman in high school and has her own blog where she reviews books for teens! 

10 Things I’m Thankful For
1. Being Diagnosed with Celiac Disease – That’s right, I’m thankful that I was diagnosed with celiac disease. After five years of health problems and countless doctor visits, it is great to finally have a diagnosis and treatment that resulted in improved health! 

2. FDA Standard for Gluten-Free – It is fabulous to finally have a standard for gluten-free labeling and to see many more products labeled gluten-free as a result. 

3. More Celiac Disease Awareness – I remember how exciting it was years ago to simply see a news story about celiac disease or a mention of gluten-free on TV shows, like Emeril or Cupcake Wars. Now we even have Olympic athletes with celiac disease!

4. More Gluten-Free Products in Local Stores – While I still shop at many different stores, it is great to be able to do my weekly grocery shopping at one major chain.

5. Generic OTC Meds Labeled as Gluten-Free – I remember how happy I was when I could finally buy a gluten-free generic pain reliever. No more paying for brand names!

6. Udi’s Gluten Free – Before Udi’s Gluten Free was even available on the East Coast, they sent me a big box of their delicious products to review. I still remember the first time I saw Udi’s in a local store, and now they are everywhere! We especially love their hamburger buns and cookies.

7. Wegmans – I’m so thankful that Wegmans finally opened in my county, as it truly is a gluten-free mecca. I have discovered many new gluten-free products there, but my favorite is the Wegmans generic gluten-free Rice Krispies. When Kellogg’s first announced gluten-free Rice Krispies, I immediately blogged about it, and it became one of my most popular blog posts. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived as Kellogg’s eventually discontinued them, and I desperately sought a replacement for what had become a staple cereal for me. Thank you Wegmans!

8. Not Your Average Joe’s – This restaurant chain has one of the largest gluten-free menus I have seen, featuring a variety of delicious entrees and even a gluten-free bread basket! 

9. Gluten-Free Bloggers – It is truly fantastic to now see so many passionate gluten-free bloggers spreading celiac awareness and sharing gluten-free reviews and news! I fondly remember the gluten-free bloggers that supported me when I first started blogging.

10. My Job at NuGo Nutrition – Teaching myself gluten-free blogging and social media led to my wonderful job as a social media specialist at NuGo Nutrition. When I first started working for NuGo six years ago, they made less than 10 gluten-free bars. Now, they make 27 certified gluten-free protein bars. While I eat several NuGo Dark, NuGo Slim, and NuGo Family flavors, my favorite is NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip, which tastes like Thin Mints! 

I can’t wait to see the gluten-free and celiac disease advancements in the next 10 years!