We were at a gluten-free event recently and were surrounded by vendors with gluten-free food. It was evident that more and more people are looking for gluten-free food based on the large crowd enjoying the samples at each booth. However, just because a product is labeled gluten-free, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. This was made clear to me at an event we attended last fall where I had ordered a gluten-free box lunch. When I opened the lunch, I was hit with mixed emotions to see the contents (and lack of nutritional value) of the three items – a sandwich, chips and dessert. I was frustrated because it was late in the day and I was tired and hungry, mad because I had paid quite a bit of money for it and sad when I thought about all the other people who were in the same situation with really no alternative but to eat the box lunch.
There were no labels on the sandwich but I know that most gluten-free bread contains xanthan gum (a hidden source of GMO’s) and sugar in its ingredient listing. Since the sandwich was sealed in a cellophane wrap, the deli meat was probably preserved with nitrates and the cheese processed for a longer shelf life. If there was any nutritional value in the sandwich, it came from the small piece of lettuce and thin slice of tomato.
Reading the label on the bag of chips, it confirmed it was gluten-free, but was processed with sunflower, corn or canola oil.
These oils can be hidden sources of GMO’s unless the USDA Certified Organic green seal is on the package (which it was not). Heating these oils at high temperatures during processing changes the molecular structure and causes them to be a harmful carcinogenic. The potatoes may have been genetically modified as well. The very last line on the package stated: Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.
The final item in my meal was a “dessert” package of apple slices with caramel.
The ingredient listing included high fructose corn syrup, sugar, xanthan gum, artificial flavors, etc. Near the bottom of this package was the line: PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING.
Back to the recent gluten-free event. We picked up a copy of the Gluten Free & More magazine at one of the booths and read an article written by Dr. Weil that confirms our message we’ve been sharing this past year. In the article, he stated, “Stop eating refined, processed and manufactured foods. In particular, reduce your consumption of products made of flour and sugar. This is the most important step,” Weil says. “[Processed foods] contain pro-inflammatory fats like refined soybean oil. They also provide the wrong kind of carbohydrates. You want to try to keep your blood sugar steady. Products made with refined flour and sugar cause spikes in blood sugar, which promote inflammation.” He talked about the importance of eating an abundance (9 cups a day) and variety of vegetables, fruit and cooked mushrooms. “Especially vegetables,” says Weil. “And try to eat across the color spectrum every day, so you’re consuming red foods, orange foods, green foods and so forth.” We, Joyce and I, at Farm Girl Fresh believe health starts at the ground up – with healthy soil producing nutrient-rich, whole food – food that is alive, not dead from processing. Your body needs fresh, whole food for optimal health.
It really hit me at this last event just how many people are struggling with trying to eat gluten-free. Believe me, I know how hard it is to try and keep up with cooking; and when you are out and about, it’s even harder to find pure food that aligns with the lifestyle you are trying to achieve. I may not always like the choices I have to pick from in every situation, but I also know we have to do the best we can and not feel guilty if we eat something that’s set before us that we normally wouldn’t eat at home.
So what’s the solution? Gluten-free… naturally! Wash and prepare vegetables and fruit (carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, peppers, apples, berries, bananas, etc.) so they are handy to “grab and go” for snacks. Ranch dip (page 125) is a good staple to make often to eat with your veggies.
If you can set aside some time each week to prep vegetables for a stir-fry or casserole, you will find you can have a stir-fry on the table in 20 to 30 minutes. Seek out others who are on a similar journey of eating as pure as possible. You might want to plan a day of cooking together occasionally. Having community to do life together is important so you can share your experiences, hold each other accountable and encourage one another.
Whether you are a celiac or going grain free, we encourage you to read the labels on the food you consume and try to eat as much “Gluten-Free Naturally” as possible.