Gluten Free Fitness

Follow up on the “Smart Choices” Program

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About 3 weeks ago I posted my thoughts on the new “Smart Choices” label. You can find that post here. Today I was directed to this online petition by Kim of Gluten Free is Life. Thanks Kim, for the heads up!

Posted on the CREDO Action website is more information on the Smart Choices label. They also have begun an online petition. Take this opportunity to educate yourself on what this program entails, and then make a decision based on your own beliefs. Do not accept any viewpoint, whether from me or another, without doing your own due diligence and making your own judgment call.

Article from CREDO Action site:

Need another example that the food industry can’t regulate itself?

How about an industry sponsored health label that declares Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms to be a “Smart Choice”? That’s the thrust of the new “Smart Choices” label, and it’s no accident that it has turned out this way. Though many healthy foods are indeed eligible, the overall structure of the program — with its industry-backed board-members, its burdensome application process and its relatively high fees — appeals to giant packaged food companies at the expense of unprocessed, unbranded foods like fruits and vegetables.

USDA guidelines warn extensively about the need to avoid consumption of added sugars from breakfast cereals, yet the Smart Choices board explicitly defined the label so that sugary breakfast cereals could qualify. That’s not really a sign that the label’s main concern is consumers’ health.

The American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association have already walked away from the Smart Choices initiative, but food companies are maintaining their commitment to it. Meanwhile, in response to the program’s questionable decisions, the FDA has announced its intention to study front-of-package health labels and possibly develop its own, a process which, unfortunately, could take years to complete.

Please join with CREDO and sign this petition demanding that the group responsible for oversight of the Smart Choices label make immediate changes to the program including:

  1. Disqualifying sugary breakfast cereals;
  2. Allowing all fruits and vegetables without additives to carry the Smart Choices label through a simplified, no-fee application process; and
  3. Diversivying the Smart Choices board to include broader food industry and public represntation and to allow for direct FDA input.

Read everything, think it over, make your decision. Then take action.

Follow up on Nutrient Absorption and Importance of Vitamins in Celiacs

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You may have read my previous post on common nutritional deficiencies found in individuals with celiac disease. If not, go read it here.

Today I read a post by Mike at the Gluten Free Blog about the positive benefits of supplementing with the nutrients that are commonly lacking-Vitamin B6, B12 and folate. Specifically what they examined was the effect of these nutrients on homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine are correlated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Regular B Vitamin supplementation appeared to have a positive effect. It certainly appears to be something worth looking into.

To read the full post on the Gluten Free Blog, click here.

Gluten Free Sports Supplement Review-Think Thin™ Bars

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Yes, I know these aren’t really sports supplements per se. They are more like a meal replacement or snack bar. I’ve had quite a few people ask me about gluten free protein bars, so this will be the first in a series of reviews. Keep in mind as with any review, the taste bit is obviously my opinion only, so your opinion may be different. I will do my best as be as descriptive as possible. The label/nutrition facts part will be much more objective.

So off we go!

According to an email response I received from Diane Hammer at thinkproducts, Inc:

All of our nutrtion bars are certified wheat & gluten free and are processed in a wheat free facility.

They are also labeled as gluten free. We’re off to a good start.

Think! Products have several different varieties of nutrition bars, I will be focusing on the Think Thin bars.

First impressions

At first inspection the Think Thin nutrition facts look pretty good. It’s labeled as sugar free, has about 240 calories give or take depending on the flavor, 20 grams of protein, 7-8 grams of fat, and 26 grams of carbs, 1 gram of which is fiber. However, it also has 10-13 grams of sugar alcohols. This is where it gets interesting.

Sugar alcohols – strike 1

A quick primer on sugar alcohols. Some of you may already be uncomfortably familiar with sugar alcohols. I know I am. Sugar alcohols, commonly seen as malitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and lactitol, are frequently used in items marketed as “sugar free.” They are sweeteners, and not fully absorbed into the small intestine. (Alert!Alert!) What is not absorbed by the small intestine is converted into a short chained fatty acid in the large intestine.

Sugar alcohols DO HAVE CALORIES! Approximately 2-3 calories per gram, whereas a “regular” carbohydrate has 4 calories per gram. So when you see labels that subtract out sugar alcohols from carbohydrate grams to give you a “net carb” count-that’s not strictly true.

Sugar alcohols do tend to not affect blood sugar as much as glucose, or sugar. So they’re not a “free food.” OK, now here’s the bad part. Sugar alcohols, due to the whole absorption thing, can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and gas. Our celiac tummies seem to be a bit more susceptible than your average Joe or Jane. I know mine is. Strike 1.

Soy protein – strike 2

So now a closer look at the rest of the ingredients. First ingredient is a protein blend, OK great, but wait. It has soy protein as a second ingredient in the blend. Strike 2 for me. I can tolerate some natural soy foods, like edamame, but not concentrated into supplements. Then the sugar alcohols next. More soy in “crisps.” The rest of the ingredients appear “mostly harmless” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference ) and vary dependent on the flavor. They contain 25% of RDA for calcium and Vitamin C, A, B12, B6, and thiamin, 30% for iron, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Nothing crazy, nice to have those in there though.

Flavor review – strike 3?

  • Brownie Crunch-tied as my favorite flavor with Chunky Peanut Butter. Had a good chocolate flavor with the “soy crisps” providing the crunch. A little aftertaste. Pretty dry.
  • Chunky Peanut Butter-ties with the above. Strong peanut flavor, which to me was good. Also dry.
  • Chocolate Mudslide-a “mocha-esque” flavor. If you don’t like coffee you won’t like it. Dry-see a pattern?
  • White Chocolate Chip-this was just flat out bad. The others had a fake milk chocolate coating, this one had a fake white chocolate coating that was way too sweet. The bar itself had no good flavor and was like cardboard. ‘Nuff said.

After I ate the first one I only had bites of the others, because my stomach was NOT happy. I do get the side effects of sugar alcohols, so for the sake of myself, my dog, my fiance and anyone else I may come in contact with I minimized the intake.

As with anything, your mileage may vary, and only you know how you respond. Quite frankly, the macronutrient profile (protein/carb/fat) is good, I’m just not crazy about the ingredients. If you are OK with sugar alcohols and soy, this would be a good, portable option to have for a safe snack or small meal replacement.

As far as cost, I got them at Whole Foods for $1.25 each on sale, and Amazon carries thinkThin™

Have you tried these? What did you think? Leave your comments below!

global amazon link