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glutenfreeforgood

Gluten free, it's not a bad thing

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Gluten-Free is not the new black!

There are a lot of food trends around at the moment, raw foods, whole foods, organic food, the paleo diet, sugar free, wheat free etc etc. For whatever reason, it seems you can’t go out anywhere these days without someone having specific food issues.

So what is now so commonplace is of course the subject of backlash. Those who have specific dietary needs are all lumped together. They are artichoke dip making hipsters or mung bean eating hippies or fitness freak yuppies who spend $11 on a bottle of coconut water, all choosing to follow a trend because Gwyneth does it or the woman from that reality show lost tons of weight or it’s all women’s magazines seem to write about.

Gluten-Free eating is not a choice for a lot of people. It keeps us healthy, it stops us from feeling sick and unbelievably tired and it prevents the body from attacking itself.   For many of us it has been a long, painful and frustrating journey to figure out that the simple act of removing gluten could change your life.

So before you roll your eyes at people that eat gluten free, stop and think, be kind – maybe it’s not a choice.

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Happy Birthday to me!

It’s just over a year since I started this blog and I have to tell you I’m quite proud of how it’s going. Initially I started it to store some of my own recipe experimentations for later reference and to share recipes with friends and family that requested them. I also wanted to write a gluten-free blog that didn’t focus on the complaining, woe is me attitude that some blogs thrive on.

I’ve found contributing to this blog enjoyable and not a chore. I love cooking and trying new recipes and fortunately I also love eating. I never considered myself a creative writer and certainly (as you can no doubt tell) a particularly talented or enthusiastic photographer, but I think I’ve found myself a creative outlet.

Sure I could’ve baked a gluten-free cake for the occasion and posted some blurry pictures of it, but I didn’t – and actually after the two donut gloriousness that was last weekend, foregoing the cake might be wise.

So thank you all that drop by here. I get quite excited visiting my site stats and knowing my blog is steadily growing. Thanks to those that follow, subscribe and comment. Thanks to those that request recipes to be added to my blog. Thanks to those who know a cousin/friend/colleague who needs to eat gluten-free and refer them here. Thanks to those of you that stumbled on my page after various searches on food related topics. I hope you’ve all found something useful here and drop by again.

Can I eat 1422?

Perhaps we should’ve stopped at the Neolithic Revolution…a simple move from hunting and gathering to settlement and agriculture should have been enough food advancement for our kind; just keep a few head of cattle, store some grain away for the winter and grow some crops in orderly rows. Nowadays however, it seems you need a working knowledge of chemistry and some basic research skills to really know what you are eating.

Take my recent urge for baked beans, there’s nothing like a good hearty serving of baked beans on toast to get you through to lunch. Of course as we know, I am a label reader, I need to know what is in my food – I can’t eat gluten.  There lurking on the label of two different brands of Baked Beans was the annoyingly ambiguous ingredient listed as ‘thickener (1422)’. Urgh… back on the shelf it went, I couldn’t take the risk of the thickener being wheat or barley based.

So after some confusing research, the question to ask is not ‘Can I eat 1422?’ but ‘Should I eat 1422?’.  In brief, with a very limited knowledge of chemistry and some quick internet research: 1422 is one of the numbers that appears on the International Numbering System for Food Additives (INS).  Wikipedia offers a detailed list and it makes for some interesting reading. My favourites being #173 – aluminium and #220 – sulfur dioxide, yummy! Actually numbers 200-220 are worth a look – all words that look like they’re made up from the left over tiles in scrabble game. Australia and New Zealand uses the INS as does Europe with ‘E’ being placed before each number. As for what happens in the US, I’m just not sure. There are additives that are approved in Europe but aren’t approved in Australia/NZ and vise-versa. Many additives previously on the market are now banned, some are not recommended in large quantities and many are banned in foods but not pharmaceuticals.  In fact there are plenty of websites out there dedicated to explaining these additives in more detail.

So what was 1422 you ask?  Hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate – obviously!

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It turns out I can eat it, items that are derived from wheat or barley must be clearly labelled e.g. thickener (from wheat).  Am I going to eat it?…No.

 

Hi I’m Lyndal…I can’t eat gluten.

Having dietary needs is tricky.  I never want to be THAT person. You know the type, the person who lets everyone know they don’t eat wheat (dairy, meat, sugar, peanuts, – whatever). The person who make a fuss at BBQs, birthdays, dinner parties and office events and generally makes everyone else feel uncomfortable or roll their eyes in boredom.  I don’t want to be a pain, I don’t want to be a diva and I don’t want it to control my life. 

I prepare well. I pack my own lunch, I always take snacks, I plan ahead and I research unfamiliar restaurants or venues. Those who know me well cater to my needs and work with me. I just get on with things with not too much fuss – I hope.

However, I’ve recently found myself in a new workplace.  I’ve been politely refusing birthday cake and eating the gluten-free options at “bring-a plate” events.  At what point does one announce, “I am Celiac, I can’t eat gluten”? An office-memo or meeting announcement would be just plain weird. I suppose I’m waiting until the situation comes up.  I haven’t thought about this for a while, It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a new situation where people don’t already know about my gluten-free needs.

I’d be interested to hear how other people approach this type of situation.

Gluten-Free Pit-Crew

One of the good things about being Gluten Free (yes, there are good things) is the network of family and friends who help support me.  Without even asking I have friends and family from all over the place who send me links, articles, advice and information about what is new, good and unusual in the GF world.

Finding out I had to go entirely GF whilst living overseas was a bit of a mission.  I had to find a lot of information out myself and research using the good old interwebs. I relied heavily on information from places such as  Celiac Australia and on blogs (some listed in the ‘blogs I follow’ section). Actually, the inspiration for starting this blog came from that time – hopefully I can help someone else out there and also be a Gluten Free blog that focuses on the positive.

Anyhow, having friends and family who not only accommodate for my needs but also recommend products, eat gluten-free dishes with me so I don’t feel left out and even make special dishes and buy GF products to cater for me is amazing.  I really do feel like I have a pit-crew, reconnaissance team and cheer-leading squad behind me.  So, thanks guys.

So…What do you eat?

“You don’t eat wheat (rye,barley), really? What do you eat?”

I don’t know how many people have asked me this and looked at me with a slight look of pity. Not eating gluten is not a bad thing. In fact it has forced me to look at what I eat more closely and make smarter choices; not just about gluten content, but the weird additives you find in food these days. Sure, I mentally break down every menu item to a list of basic ingredients, but I actually think we could all benefit from doing this.  I have picked up items in the supermarket started to read the list of ingredients realised there is no gluten, but also realised what garbage I would be eating and put it back on the shelf.

I consider being gluten free just a part of my life.  It doesn’t control me, this blog is not my tale of woe.  This is about embracing the good that can come from being gluten free…for good.

Some other things NOT to say to those going gluten free:

 

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