START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Beyond Bread: Gluten-Free Foods

Many of today’s big names in alternative-grain goodies are (or began as) small, independent companies whose owners often had personal reasons for launching their product lines. “When I went to parties with tables full of cheeses and dips, there wasn’t a cracker or bread stick I could eat,” writes Mary Waldner, co-founder of the company Mary’s Gone Crackers. Another manufacturer, Gluten-Free Pantry, was founded in 1993 by celiac sufferer Beth Hillson, who was dissatisfied with the gluten-free baked goods on the market.

Carol Fenster, a cookbook author whose titles include the forthcoming 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes and Gluten Free, Quick and Easy, says she used to know all the company founders “on a first-name basis,” but that’s changing. Gluten-Free Pantry, for instance, was recently bought by the Canadian company Glutino, one of the world’s largest gluten-free food manufacturers.

Whether suffering from celiac disease or not, the gluten-free community feels very strongly about its cause. Many people report feeling more energetic and alert when they don’t eat gluten–perhaps in part because eliminating wheat and related grains means cutting out many high-glycemic foods, such as packaged snacks and fast foods.

Danna Korn, the author of Living Gluten-Free for Dummies, argues that everyone could benefit from giving up wheat and its relatives. “My son has celiac disease, but I’m not gluten-intolerant; still, I wouldn’t touch gluten if you paid me–not after the research I’ve done,” she says. “Our systems were not designed to handle gluten.” That may be an extreme view, but it seems to be catching on. “There are a lot of people who avoid wheat simply because of the health benefits,” says Joseph Pace, the chef and owner of Risotteria in New York City, a celiac-friendly restaurant that also sells a line of prepared gluten-free foods.

Despite the rising popularity of the gluten-free diet, most doctors say it isn’t for everyone. For one thing, it can be hard to obtain adequate amounts of certain nutrients–like fiber and B vitamins-without wheat and its cousins (in their whole-grain form, at least). Moreover, it’s hard to truly stick to the diet, and it’s expensive to buy gluten-free items, which often fetch a premium of more than 300 percent.

And let’s face it: Eating processed foods–be they gluten-free cookies or vegan ice-cream sandwiches–isn’t as healthy as sticking to whole, unrefined fare. So while gluten-free goodies won’t solve the nation’s obesity or diabetes problems, they may be a crucial step toward better health for many people–maybe even you.

Plenty is an environmental media company dedicated to exploring and giving voice to the green revolution that will define the 21st Century. Click here to subscribe to Plenty.

Read more: Health, Diet & Nutrition, , , ,

By Christy Harrison, Plenty magazine

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

19 comments

+ add your own
9:25PM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

I've been gluten intolerant for years thanks to too much antibiotics as a kid and now it's easier to find foods we can eat. Some places are still hard though.

3:05PM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

Just found out I have celiac. Have notified family as there is a strong family genetic trace. I was tested 10 years ago, they lost the testing and decided I was fine. Life became unbearable, I looked up the symptoms and there I am. Life started improving within 24 hours. Will attend a celiac support group for a while to get some ideas. Problem is I hate cooking.

I eat Quaker oats and they do not appear to be an issue. Will see what happens.

They definitely need better labeling and better choices.

10:53AM PST on Dec 22, 2010

I just found out that I'm gluten intolerant - and am just now learning - from this site - about celiac disease. I am already diagnosed with ulcerative colitis - now I'm wondering if I have celiac disease as well. They have similar symptoms.

8:53AM PST on Dec 22, 2010

Oats in and of themselves are gluten free. HOWEVER!!!, the cross contamination rate is excessively high and can cause problems with many. Bob's Red Mill sells GF oats and are very good.

I find if I eat oats that are not certified, I get that darn rash and a belly ache.

So for what it is worth, that is my 2 cents worth! :)

8:45AM PST on Dec 22, 2010

I haven't been able to tolerate bread since they started adding non-fat dry milk or sodium caseinate to it, and the label-reading involved in processed foods is so complex, I accidentally eliminated most gluten from my diet. Except at the holidays. I bake a couple of loaves of bread then, doesn't seem to bother me, but when I totally cut the dairy and bread a few years ago I certainly felt much better. And peanut butter on homemade bread is pretty good for a special treat.

Oats aren't mentioned - as having or not having gluten. Does anyone know?

8:11AM PDT on Apr 2, 2010

I have stopped all gluten in my diet - no reason other than I feel better without it. Funny- I still love the smell of fresh croissants or pastry- breads- but I do not have it... Very cool markets in my area that carry gluten free everything!!!
I tried a few things, and will stay without...
Fresh is best!

Happy Easter... don;t forget to click to donate...
together we do obtain amazing results... I know we think, they won't miss my click... but sadly- yes- it is missed...

just do it!! ( woohoo Nike! )... it feels so good!

c

9:46AM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

Good, brief article on celiac. There are more and more foods that are gluten free on the market, but more is needed so the pricing can be reduced for one! The UK is so much farther ahead in that arena... even though i am celiac and living gluten free for about 3 yrs now, it IS not easy to do... and it's true, minute amounts are such a problem, which many people just find hard to believe.

6:03PM PST on Nov 20, 2009

Because my nutritionist suspects I am gluten intolerant and my internist agreed it was a distinct possibility, I began doing a lot of research on the issue and was surprised to hear how many celiac/gluten intolerant are asymptomatic and thus undiagnosed...and it surprised me how damaging it can be...so now I've been tested and I'm just waiting for the results...yes, at Thanksgiving....I have decided that either way, I'm not going to make radical changes to my diet until after the holidays...my symptoms aren't extreme luckily, but honestly, I admit I dread going gluten-free, it's clearly a lot harder than most would think....I am just glad to know there are so many out there who do so successfully and satisfactorily (from a food standpoint)

3:45AM PDT on Jun 15, 2009

thanks...
Kabin
Konteyner

2:19PM PST on Jan 15, 2009

My sister and I both have CD (celiac disease). I have found that avoiding anything processed and eating foods that pretty much look like they were harvested has saved me! My sister was Dx'd because of anemia. I was Dx'd because of her, but had the "outward" symptoms! I also suffered from rashes and "blisters" for years and years that are all gone, unless something sneaks in and less than an hour, I am itchy and have a rash!
It isn't as hard as some may think but dining out can be tricky. If anyone needs info or help they can contact me or even look at the magazine called "Living Without", it has been a great help!

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Turned away five years ago ... never looked back ... never been happier. Still have all my (real)…

Wow! That's new info about iron problems.

Yes,am quite sure thats true -tho so far too weak willed to axe mine

CONTACT THE EDITORS



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.