Gluten Free Fitness

celiac disease

Surviving Celiac Disease

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When a person is officially diagnosed with Celiac disease, I am still surprised at how they cringe. As a fitness trainer, nutrition consultant and wellness coach I have the opportunity to speak with many people suffering from weight issues and medical issues. Upon referring certain clients to medical professionals for further testing, whenever Celiac is the culprit of the undiagnosed ailments there is always a sense of dread rather than relief.  This absolutely perplexes me, as I was undiagnosed for only 6 months but when we finally got the proper testing done and Celiac was confirmed, I was overjoyed! All I could think of was that I was going to heal myself without medicine or surgery.

As time went on I learned that there are people with Celiac who would actually rather have a disease that could be managed with medications. Although very surprised by this, I wanted to know more. Why? What is so scary about this disease? Is it the possibility of developing esophageal cancer? Is it the difficulty of absorbing minerals and vitamins? Is it the rash? No. The number one fear is the inability to eat the foods they love.

While I can absolutely empathize with this struggle, I believe that the bigger issue is lack of information. Usually people fall into 1 of 3 categories:

  1. Those who have no information on Celiac disease, or think it is a passing fad or “one of those food allergies”.
  2. Those who have been exposed briefly to someone who has Celiac or have little information about Celiac.
  3. Those who have Celiac or live with someone who has Celiac.

The first thing I make someone understand is that Celiac, while it is a complete lifestyle change, is not the end of good eating, dining out or even missing out on special events. In fact, it can be a blessing in disguise. Once a person truly understands the benefits of going gluten free, most of the time they become much less fearful. I start with talking about the inflammatory property of gluten, explaining how people with arthritis, Crohns disease and lupus all benefit from a gluten free diet. Less inflammation in the body leads to a reduction in pain, a reduction in gastrointestinal symptoms and overall a generally healthier life. People who go gluten free usually report an increase in energy levels and better skin conditions.  Many people who have been struggling with their weight despite their best efforts to exercise and eat properly, weeks after going gluten free report weight loss.

Celiac is controllable by what we eat. There are so many more options now than 7 years ago, when I was diagnosed.  There are tasty gluten free breads, beers and baked goods.  There are restaurants dedicated to gluten free eating and non-gluten free restaurants with a separate prep and fryer station in the kitchen area.  There are many ways to survive Celiac healthily and happily.  With the proper information, nutrition planning, fitness and medical care when necessary, Celiacs will live a close to normal lifestyle.  Once on the road to healing, a Celiac usually ends up feeling better than they ever have.

For those of you needing a simplified way of purchasing and preparing gluten free meals, try out our friends at Home Chef

Home Chef Horizontal

 

Yes initially it can be confusing and frightening, being diagnosed with the disease that was barely on the radar 20 years ago.  I can almost guarantee it is better than the alternative diagnosis you may have been looking at.  Find a professional, a support group or ask your doctor to help get you started. There are many on-line resources you can turn to as well.  www.glutenfreefitness.com is an excellent site filled with a plethora of information to help you, as well as, there are many books you can turn to. Once you begin to understand what Celiac is, how it affects your body and mind and how you can treat yourself, you will see that surviving celiac disease is not that hard after all.

Maria Faller

www.BeABetterYouFitness.com

Certified Nutrition Consultant

Certified Fitness Trainer

Certified Wellness Coach

Celiac/Food Allergy Mom

Contamination in Naturally Gluten Free Grains

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Contamination in Naturally Gluten Free Grains – but Don’t Panic

Previously, Aaron posted about the proposed FDA guidelines for labeling an item gluten free.  These guidelines would allow products with less than 20 ppm (parts per million) to be labeled gluten free.  My thoughts were that if you eat one item that contains 20 ppm of gluten, there may be no issue.  However, if you have multiple items, does that gluten have an additive effect?  It is like eating something with a considerably larger amount of gluten?

We don’t know.

My thoughts are to focus on naturally gluten free foods and eliminate the worry.  In the proposed rule, single ingredient foods that are considered inherently gluten free (think rice, millet, amaranth) can be considered misbranded if they are labeled gluten free.  They would have to be labeled gluten free and also state that all foods of that type are gluten free.  (Like labeling an apple low fat.  It would have to say-“all apples are low fat.”)

Or not.

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, and well known in the celiac community, was recently involved in a research study that examined naturally gluten free grains, and tested them for gluten.    Their findings indicate that naturally gluten free grains can be, and are, contaminated with gluten.

So much for sticking to naturally gluten free foods to avoid the 20 ppm of gluten, eh?

Cross contamination with gluten?!? WAH!

Photo credit waggg

They tested 22 types of naturally gluten free grains that were not labeled gluten free.  7 of the 22 included a voluntary allergen statement for wheat.  (I’m assuming that this is the “processed in a facility which also processes wheat” statement.)  From Tricia’s write up on the study “products included white rice and flour, brown rice, corn meal, polenta, buckwheat and buckwheat flour, amaranth seed and flour, flax seed, millet grain and flour, sorghum flour, and soy flour.”

The results:

Let’s look first at the ones that had the allergy advisory for wheat.  Out of those 7, 4 tested had above 5 ppm (5 ppm was considered the threshold for gluten with the testing they used-this is less than the proposed FDA guideline) and 3 had less than 5 ppm.  Seems a bit of a crap shoot, doesn’t it?

For the remaining 15 that did not have the wheat allergen advisory, 5 items were over the 5 ppm of gluten.  10 were below.

The conclusion from Tricia’s write up:

Results of this study confirm that a certain percentage of inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours are NOT gluten-free when they are purchased by consumers. Co-mingling of grain and seed can occur anywhere along the line from the field to the packaging plant.

Results also suggest that consumers can not rely on voluntary allergen advisory statements for wheat to make decisions about which products are more or less likely to be contaminated. Four of seven products containing greater than or equal to 20 ppm gluten did not contain an allergen statement for wheat while three of the products that contained below the limit of quantification for gluten did contain an allergen advisory statement.

While we can infer from this study that some degree of contamination exists in naturally gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours sampling was not large enough to make any assessment on the overall percentage of contaminated product.

Sampling also was not large enough to make any inferences on the specific grains, flours, and seeds more or less likely to be contaminated.”

  • To note: This study was funded in part by Schar USA, a manufacturer of prepared gluten-free foods.  It’s always good to look and see who funds any research you may be interested in.  In this particular case, I certainly don’t think that Schar framed the study by intentionally contaminating anything, and the testing procedures seem very cut and dry.  It does not appear that the funding would have had any impact on this study.

So what’s the take home from all this?

Well, don’t panic.  As noted above, the sample size (number of products and grains tested) was not large enough to make any sweeping conclusions.  It does certainly warrant additional testing, as well as continued tweaking to the proposed gluten free labeling guidelines.

For me, it reinforces what I  tend to do anyway-utilize white and sweet potato, rice, and gluten free oats for the majority of my carbohydrate sources.  There could still be contamination in the rice, but for now, that’s what I’m going to do.

After all, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.  You just never know.

What are your thoughts?

FYI-I’ve added a new free downloadable “tips” PDF to Gluten Free and Fit 101-go check it out!

Addendum: Tricia has now added a Part 2

Leave comments below-are you going to change anything you currently eat based on this information?


Celiac Awareness Month 2012: KISS it, and then Spread the Bread

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Celiac Awareness Month 2012: KISS it…

and Spread the Bread

But, the good folks over at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness were way more on the ball than me, thank goodness.  I’ve done some work with them in the past, and they are always doing stellar work for the celiac and gluten free communities.

National Celiac Awareness Month is here, and what celebration would be complete without a blogger campaign? This year, the NFCA rounded up 16 bloggers for a series chronicling every stage of the gluten-free journey, from Day 1 basics to advanced cooking and advocacy.

In keeping with this year’s theme, Keep It Simple and Safe, each blogger is offering 5 key tips or lessons related to that day’s topic.

Weekly Focus

  • Monday – Cooking/Baking Gluten-Free
  • Tuesday – Nutrition/Wellness
  • Wednesday – Raising a Gluten-Free Kid
  • Thursday – Dining Out Gluten-Free
  • Friday – NFCA Resources You Should Know About

Schedule and Guest Bloggers

Week 1: Just Diagnosed (April 30-May 4)

Week 2: Getting the Hang of It (May 7-11)

  • Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef – How to cook and bake gluten-free from scratch
  • Erin Elberson of Gluten-Free FitnessWeight gain and gluten-free processed foods
  • Heidi Kelly of Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom – Talking to family & friends about your child’s gluten-free needs
  • Chandice Probst of Gluten-Free Frenzy – Trying new gluten-free dishes when dining out
  • NFCA – Free Webinars: The easiest way to get new information

Week 3: Hitting a Roadblock (May 14-18)

  • Diane Eblin of The WHOLE Gang – 5 tips to get out of a food rut
  • Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free  – First gluten-free, now lactose intolerant? 5 tips to becoming a dairy-free diva
  • Michael De Cicco-Butz of Gluten-Free Mike – Traveling while gluten-free
  • NFCA – 5 resources to handle life’s hurdles

Week 4: What’s Next? (May 21-25)

  • Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple – Publishing your gluten-free recipes
  • EA Stewart of The Spicy RD – Healthy gluten-free foods you’ve never heard of
  • Katie Chalmers of G-Free Kid – 5 tips to empower gluten-free kids
  • Carrie Forbes of Ginger Lemon Girl – Starting a gluten-free dining group
  • NFCA – Ready to fundraise? Here’s how to start

My post is titled “5 Tips to Avoid the Pitfalls of Processed Gluten Free Food and Weight Gain.”  Check it out and share!  It’s something we’ve all been though at some point.

Also for Celiac Awareness Month, Rudi’s Gluten Free is offering their “Spread the Bread” campaign and donating $$ to the celiac organization of your choice.  I recommend the NFCA, but all the organizations are doing fantastic work and your donations will be well spent.  They are going to give up to $30,000 back to the amazing organizations making a difference in our community.

Through the rest of May, fans of Rudi’s Gluten-Free on Facebook will be able to select one of four celiac organizations (Celiac Disease Foundation, Celiac Sprue Association, Gluten Intolerance Group and National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) to receive a $1 donation from Rudi’s Gluten-Free and will then be able to download a $1 off coupon for any Rudi’s Gluten-Free product. It’s as simple as, “Get a Dollar. Give a Dollar.”  It’s a win/win!  I almost always have a loaf of Rudi’s Multi Grain Bread in my freezer.

For more info, you’ll want to check out Gluten Free and Fit 101, where I’ve compiled posts that I think would be most helpful to those starting on a gluten free diet, or those who have been eating gluten free, but are ready to kick up their nutritional know how and health status to the next level.

If you’re tired of searching around for information and want a step by step system for living a healthier gluten free life, then check out my “7 Quick Start Tips for Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life.”

So there you go.  Happy Celiac Awareness Month!  Go spread some knowledge bombs and spread the bread as well.