Monday, February 9, 2009

A spiel about celiac disease, gluten free food and Vanilla Spoons.

Some of you have asked me for the low-down on celiac disease and gluten. As the owner of a gift basket shop that sells exclusively gluten free foods, I assume everybody has heard about the gluten free diet. I sometimes forget that before my son was diagnosed with celiac disease ten years ago, I didn't know what gluten was either.

In a nutshell, celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten--the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is literally the "glue" that holds together baked goods and pasta. Although gluten is found mainly in foods, it may also be in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins and lip balms. Now given that I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV, I'm going to send you here to read more about it.

Since there is no cure for celiac disease, a strict adherence to a gluten free diet needs to be followed. This is the tricky part. It involves reading labels, phone calls to food manufacturers, reading labels and re-reading labels. The cool thing is when you focus on all the naturally gluten free foods. Like fresh fruit and veggies; fresh meat, chicken, fish and eggs; potatoes, rice and quinoa; cultured plain yogurt; and aged block cheeses and many varieties of real cheese (assuming dairy is not a problem for you). It almost sounds like the caveman diet, remember that one?

Certainly there are the obvious forbidden foods (bread, pizza, bagels, muffins, donuts, crackers, cookies, cake, brownies, cereal, fried food). BUT the gluten free versions of all these foods do exist. Buying them or making them is just a little less convenient. But since when is convenience usually the healthier option anyway?

I started Vanilla Spoons because it was something I was already doing. (Albeit without pay.) I call myself the Expert Label Reader. I'm constantly searching for new, delicious gluten free food products that are not always found in the mainstream marketplace. Vanilla Spoons represents my view on living a gluten free life. All the food and fun that can be enjoyed. Vanilla Spoons is an experience that combines creativity and deliciousness.

Thanks for taking the time to read this (if you've made it thus far). It's an unusually long post for Absolutely Not Martha.

(Image from here)


GFE--gluten free easily said...

Great write-up! Kudos on pointing out that one can eat gluten free easily by eating real food and just skipping the gluten-containing bread, pasta, etc. It is pretty easy to make one's own baked goods (many desserts and treats are naturally GF anyway) for an occasional treat. And, there are also some companies that make good products for an occasional indulgence (like those you share through your company). It's a different mindset to eat GF, but it quickly becomes "old hat." The transition is much easier by focusing on all the foods one already loves that are GF. :-)

I'd only note that even though celiac is a digestive disease, many have symptoms that are seemingly unrelated and about 40% of folks have no symptoms. I know you wisely linked to more comprehensive info, but just wanted to add that in case someone is dealing with unresolved medical issues that could be caused by celiac. I am not a medical professional either ... just a volunteer knowing my own and others' experiences from leading a celiac/gluten intolerance support group. ;-)


Miss Aimee said...

great site!

i have a great GF soup on my blog today. every tuesday I post awesome GF recipes my entire family LOVES! i just love your blog!

becomingkate said...

Sounds like it requires a lot of commitment! We have several stores nearby that cater to gluten-free, thank goodness.

ba said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog - and letting me know about yours!

vintage simple said...

I'm new here at your blog - and I'm so glad to have found you..! In the throes of you moving to a new town, and LA, no less! Anyway... I enjoyed reading this because it told me a little bit more about you... I can't wait to read more - whether lengthy or not.

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