Life is Still Nummy

I am a terrible blogger. I promised a second post last week, but then life got it in the way, like it does. I will try and do 2 posts this week. I only have a 2 day work week this week, so I should have time.

My husband likes to say that the point in time that he understood that I was doing okay with living gluten free was the day that I turned to him and said, “Life is still nummy.” It kind of holds a lot of things. There’s hope in the statement. There’s also throwing off the stigma of gluten free food. You don’t need to go any further than the late John Pinette’s routine to see exactly what those are. There’s also a sense of normalcy to it, like a turning point of sorts.

Before my diagnosis, I thought that John Pinette bit was hilarious. I hadn’t really tried gluten free bread. We would laugh in the store at all of these things that we thought should be gluten free, because why would you have gluten in corn chips (I’m looking at you Doritos)? And cosmetics, because why would there be gluten in hand soap or lotion or shampoo (really why is it there?) It seemed like these were all stupid things, but little did I know that I would need to understand it before too long.

So, “Life is still nummy” it just my phrase that encompasses all of that. It’s my little gift of hope. A slight reprieve from speaking about all of the hidden gluten in things.

Nummy 2 What you might not be able to see on whatever tiny screen we’re using, is that within those words is a list of everything that I could think of that is gluten free, naturally gluten free. Like cars are naturally gluten free, if there is gluten in the car, someone put it there. Here is the text of that list, if you are interested:

Rice, Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff, Sorguhm, Almonds, Coconut, Tapicoa, Hemp, Corn, Buckwheat, Arrowroot, Oats, Apples, Apricots, Asparagus, Artichoke , Avocado, Bananas, Beans, Berries, Broccoli, Brussels  Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cherries, Collard Greens, Cucumber, Dates, Eggplant, Endive, Escarole, Fennel, Figs, Garlic, Gooseberries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Green Beans, Green Onions, Greens, Guava, Hominy, Jicama, Kale, Kiwi, Kumquat, Leeks, Lemons, Lettuce, Limes, Lychee, Mandarin Oranges, Mangoes, Mulberries, Mushrooms, Nectarines, Okra, Onions, Oranges, Papayas, Parsnips, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Pears, Peas, Peppers, Persimmons, Pineapples, Plantains, Plums, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Prunes, Pumpkin, Quince, Radicchio, Radishes, Raisins, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Rutabaga, Shallots, Snow Peas, Spinach, Sprouts, Squash, String Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Tangelos, Tangerines, Tomatillo, Tomato, Turnip, Watermelon, Zucchini, Dancing, Birdwatching, Board Games, Coloring, Netflix and Chill, Yarn, Cheese, Quilting, Macramé, Ice Skating, Going to Museums, LEGOS!, Comic books, Magic, Metalworking, Music, Origami, Painting, Pottery, Jigsaw Puzzles, Leather Working, Books, Sewing, Scrapbooking, Singing, Playing an Instrument, Drawing, Video Games, Table Tennis, The Internet, Wood Carving, Yoga, Yoyos, Writing, Ham Radio Operating, Archery, The Aquarium, Astrology, Astronomy, Backgammon, Baseball,  Going to the beach, Beading, Beatboxing, Basketball, Base jumping, Bicycling, Going to the gym, Calligraphy, Canoeing, Chess, Cloud watching, Coin collecting, Darts, Dominoes, Falconry, Football, Fishing, Geocaching, Go Karting, Clothes shopping, Ghost Hunting, Cosplay, Gymnastics, Juggling, Flying a kite, Lacrosse, Martial Arts, Meditation, Paintball, Paper Mache, Parkour, Pole Dancing, Puppetry, Rafting, Going for a run, Skateboarding, Skydiving, Snorkeling, Long conversations, Spelunking, Stamp collecting, Ultimate Frisbee, Zumba ,Blanket forts, Lazy Sundays, Long drives, Flowers, Art, Going to concerts, Afternoon naps, Cats, Dogs, Birds, Snakes, Gerbils, Guinea Pigs, Hedgehogs, Horses, Goldfish, Cows, Pigs, Old Movies, Going to a play, Grumpy Cat, The Muppets, Comedians, Bubble Baths, Cellphone Games, Fencing, Warm socks, Coffee shops, Soda pop, Wine, Rum, Good vodka, Hard Cider, Disney Princesses, Internet memes, Anime, Hiking, Horseback riding, Cross stich, Parkour, Model trains, Christmas trees, Stargazing, Lazy Sunday mornings, Freshly washed sheets, Magic, Summer vacations, Intertubing, Sunbathing, Getting a massage, Concerts, Photography, Thrift Shopping, Antiquing, Trainspotting, People watching, Ice Cream, Snow Cones, Facebook, Twitter, Seflies, Watching the Sunset, Water skiing, Making a snowman, Nature walks, Mushrooming, Bugs, The Funny Pages, Magazines, Bears, Sheep Herding,  Rodeos, Gardening, Long baths, Role Playing, LARPing, Cleaning house, Taking a class, Scuba Diving, Coffee, Tea, Hot cocoa with marshmallows, Roller skating, Ice Skating, Skateboarding, Sleeping in, Volunteering, Tacos, New care smell, Summer breezes, Scented candles, Petrichor, Sidewalk chalk, Finger Painting, Looking at family pictures, Jigsaw puzzles, Camp fires,  Popcorn…

That’s pretty much all I could think of, if there is something on the list that I missed, put it in the comment section. I’ll take everything that we put there an make another image in the near future, of our entire list. Personally, I look at everything in that list, and while I don’t like all of it, it does make me feel good that there are that many things in the world that are naturally gluten free. It’s so much larger than the list gluten list.

 

 

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Do you ever notice that it seems like all we ever talk about is gluten. It’s kind of understandable why people are soo annoyed with the GF community. And yet this simple protein is such a big part of our lives. We can’t seem to stop talking about it, being concerned about it, can’t obsessing with it. And to everyone else, it’s just part of their everyday lives. Not even a big part of it. Gluten is the smallest part of their lives, they don’t even think about it. They don’t watch people’s hands or wipe off tables or have to explain their whole medical history at a restaurant.

Yeah, we’re a little obsessed, but it’s because we have to be.

I am not certain where I’m going with this, but I only had 4 hours of sleep last night. I promise a much better post later this week. Something actually from the list. But now, enjoy this slate article that inspired me.

Liar, liar intestines on fire

Okay, today we’re going to take on the really boring topic of FDA regulations. It’s something that you all should know before we go much further, so I’m going to try and make it as not boring as possible. Yup.

If you do not know, as of August 5th, 2014 the FDA put in guidelines for what can and cannot bear the label gluten free.Here is a summary of the new rule from the FDA’s own webstie:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is issuing a final rule to define the term “gluten-free” for voluntary use in the labeling of foods. The final rule defines the term “gluten-free” to mean that the food bearing the claim does not contain an ingredient that is a gluten-containing grain (e.g., spelt wheat); an ingredient that is derived from a gluten-containing grain and that has not been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat flour); or an ingredient that is derived from a gluten-containing grain and that has been processed to remove gluten (e.g., wheat starch), if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food (i.e., 20 milligrams (mg) or more gluten per kilogram (kg) of food); or inherently does not contain gluten; and that any unavoidable presence of gluten in the food is below 20 ppm gluten (i.e., below 20 mg gluten per kg of food). A food that bears the claim “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten” in its labeling and fails to meet the requirements for a “gluten-free” claim will be deemed to be misbranded. In addition, a food whose labeling includes the term “wheat” in the ingredient list or in a separate “Contains wheat” statement as required by a section of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) and also bears the claim “gluten-free” will be deemed to be misbranded unless its labeling also bears additional language clarifying that the wheat has been processed to allow the food to meet FDA requirements for a “gluten-free” claim. Establishing a definition of the term “gluten-free” and uniform conditions for its use in food labeling will help ensure that individuals with celiac disease are not misled and are provided with truthful and accurate information with respect to foods so labeled. We are issuing the final rule under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA).

Yeah, I know TRDR right? What’s the cliff notes version? Well the FDA says that anyone that puts gluten free (or any variation of that phrase) on their package must have 20ppm (meaning 20 mg per kg) or less of something with gluten in it. Also if a anything has gluten, wheat, or a wheat directive (i.e. wheat starch) need to have a label stating that is has wheat in it. This was all done for people with celiac disease. It feels pretty good to have a new law for you right? But what does it really mean?

Packages for processed foods are like like 99% safe, which is abouBatmant as good as we can get. Everyone and their mother knows about the Cheerios disaster. If you didn’t hear anything about it, well Cheerios went to great lengths to source gluten free oat flour to allow celiacs to eat Cheerios again. Great right, and then contaminated oats flour gets delivered to their dedicated gluten free facility. It was ALL over the news. Now, when General Mills found out what happened they went public, pulled boxes off the shelf, and shut down the facility to clean it. That is the absolute correct response, and Cheerios are safe again. But it’s a lesson that we need to learn. Just because the package says it’s safe doesn’t mean that it is 100% safe.

So, how does the FDA protect you? Well there’s facility inspections, labeling reviews, consumer complaints, and when needed testing. They, in fact, rely on the facilities to do their own testing. Yeah, you see what I’m seeing here aren’t you. But, for the most part, it’s safe. Like 99% of the time, safe. You can trust a label. And then there’s this…

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I got caught by something like this. I bought sweet potato chips. The package even said on it “Gluten Free, 100% Sweet Potatoes” but the 100% Sweet Potatoes in a circle around the Gluten Free. It basically read “100% Gluten Free Sweet Potatoes.” My husband and I were joking about how sweet potatoes could contain gluten. Of course, I didn’t really look at the package. And guess what? I was feeling it the next day, so I looked at the package it was processed in a facility…

So why is this so bad? Well wheat can be airborne, so there’s that, but this is a more interesting processed food fact. You know those mystery flavor Dum Dum lollipops? They’re the combination of one two flavors when they’re switching between the flavors. Yup, it’s not an actual flavor, it’s just multiple flavors mixing together. That’s a p
retty extreme example, but it’s not an unusual for multiple similar products the same equipment. It just takes one person not being careful when they’re cleaning the equipment and your white blood cells are re-enacting the Avengers in your intestines.avengers

Now that we discussed all of the dangers of not reading packages or and what the FDA is doing for you, it’s time to discuss what you can do for the FDA. Remember back a couple of paragraphs where I mentioned that the FDA only knows what to investigate through consumer reports…guess what you are? You are a consumer, and better yet, you’re a consumer that really needs to be gluten free. You are the exact consumers that they wrote these rules for. Remember, you are your own best advocate, and you can help others too. How did the FDA know to investigate Cheerios? Well because consumers reported that they were getting sick, and because of that they figured out what happened. The FDA makes it pretty easy to report. I mean it’s not an online form, but it’s close enough.

Contact FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Adverse Event Reporting System called “CAERS” by phone, 240-402-2405 or email, CAERS@cfsan.fda.gov

There’s everything almost everything that you need to understand the FDA guidelines for gluten free package labeling. If you would like more information you can check our the FDAs own website. There’s a lot of good information there.

Do Celiacs dream of McDonald’s French Fries?

No matter how well you ate before you diagnosis there is something that you are missing. It might be fresh baked rolls brought to your table with hot melty butter. It might be cake, literally any cake. It could be red vines, yeah I’m still super bummed about that one. For me though, it was McDonald’s French Fries. It’s one of those things that you can’t get away from. You drive down the road, you WILL smell a McDonalds. And that smell will make you think about those crisp, salty, fries.

For some reason, I intellectually know that you don’t often get those perfect McDonald’s French fries. The ones that are perfectly golden, rigid on the outside, melty on the inside and doused in salt. Most of the time you get something soggy and limp and kind of lackluster. Still, when I smell a McDonalds, my mouth starts to water with the thought of those perfect fries. It’s kind of a Palovian reaction.

And the worst part, there really no reasonable substitute for McDonadl’s french fries. You can try and make your own, but they don’t every quite match up. There’s always something missing. It might be the gluten that floats over from Chicken McNuggets or Fillet-o-Fish, but really, it doesn’t matter, because you can’t really duplicate it at home.

Of course, we all know that we want what we can’t have. I don’t know if we’re conditioned for it or not, but it always seems that we want a nap while we’re at work. Or a snowy day in the middle of summer. It stands to reason that the second we can’t eat gluten anymore, we want pizza, all of the time.

Before my diagnosis, I was only okay with pizza. It wasn’t my favorite or my least favorite, it was just kind of foodish shaped stuff that was there. Now, I want pizza. I honestly really want pizza with a fervor that I never had before, mostly because I can’t have it anymore. Sure, I can go to the store and get a gluten free pizza from the freezer section. Or make a crust at home, but there’s nothing like having someone bring you pizza a Chinese food when you’re just feeling lazy. Or a beer. I wasn’t a big beer drinker before my diagnosis, but the second I couldn’t have it anymore, I wanted it all of the time.

Yes, I could make most of this myself, but here’s the other part of this whole rant. When I make it myself, I feel accomplished. I feel like I did good. I made something, but what I don’t feel is spoiled. When we go to a restaurant and order, even a McDonald’s, someone else is doing all of this for us. It makes us feel lazy, but also a little spoiled. Sure I could fry my own fries. Or bake my own cake, but there’s nothing quite like someone else doing it for you to make you feel a little special.

Dinner at home, it is normal, common, no matter how good the food is, but dining out has always been an experience. When I was younger, we ate out infrequently. Usually it was only on a special occasion, like payday. Going out to a restaurant was a ritual, and we treated it with reverence. We generally only ate out twice a month, on payday, and we would go to this one particular Mexican restaurant and be served by this one particular waitress. On these nights, my sister and I would get Shirley Temples and we had to make sure that one drink lasted our entire dinner. The food wasn’t special, it was good but noting extraordinary, but for us it was special and that is what matterd.

I still have a little bit of that engrained in me. Eating outside of the house is a treat. It’s something that savor and experience. Sure, as I got older, we ate out more. And when I started to live on my own, well it was as often as I wanted. Still, if I go to a place with silverware and they bring me a glasses of water, that still feels special to me. Heck, even going and sitting inside at a McDonalds can feel special.

I used to work with adults and children with disabilities. I did this for about 8 years while I was going through college and some afterwards. Until you take someone with a disability to a McDonald’s or a Starbucks and see how special it makes them feel, you can’t really understand. While I was still in college, my best friend and I spent an evening taking 2 of our high school student clients to the prom.  I don’t remember a whole lot about the dance itself, but before the dance we took them to McDonalds to eat. It was like it was the biggest treat they’d ever gotten. Just to get a Big Mac or a Happy Meal and to eat it dressed up like a princess, that was the highlight of their month. I think that’s when I learned about how important those little things really were.

Celiac’s has made me struggle for control of my food. I have to control everything about food from how it’s prepared to what’s in it, and yet I still want to feel special. I want those little moment again. And I will say, the first time you go to a restaurant and they have a gluten free menu. Or the facility is dedicated gluten free, and you have a million choices spread in front of you. That’s a moment where you can just breath again. Where you can just feel special and relaxed and normal. And every time I go out to eat and get to order french fries and someone brings me a plate with steaming hot french fries, well I feel a little special again. Not quite like someone on TV, but a tiny bit more normal. And somehow normal has become even more special than anything else.

Cat food is not gluten free.

THIS IS A CAUTIONARY TALE! I DO NOT CONDONE THE EATING OF CAT FOOD, ESPECIALLY FOR CELIACS.

That being said, I didn’t eat cat food. Not really. I mean, I always suspected that cat food had gluten in it. Wheat is one of the cheapest binders that we have these days. Pet food is put together from all of the parts that even McDonald’s wouldn’t put in their food. And that’s saying something.

So, how did I wind up eating cat food? Well that’s a simpler story that you would think.

It all started because my husband didn’t run the dishwasher. He’s the cook, for the most part, therefore the kitchen is his domain. That means that, when we were divvying up regular chores, he got the dishes. I’m also going to add that we’re not GREAT housekeepers. We’re pretty good at keeping the house clean. Well, if I’m honest, we’re okay at it. Well, if I’m really honest we aren’t hoarders. We wash dishes and clothes and pick up after ourselves, mostly. We just don’t always get the clothes put away after we’re done washing them and the dishes almost never make it into the cupboard. We mostly pull the dishes out of the dishwasher and go.

Also, we have some spoiled cats. Years ago, upon the suggestion of our vet, we started feeding them twice a day with a mixture of wet and dry food mixed with water, and it’s my job to feed the cats. So I use a fork to mix the wet food with water…and you’re starting to see all of the pieces fall into place now right?

So, one morning I grabbed a fork from the dishwasher and got going on my breakfast. It looked clean, so I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until I started to feel sick that my husband asked me where I got the offending piece of silverware from, and I said, “the dishwasher” because that’s where the clean dishes live in our house.

He looked aghast and said, “I didn’t run the dishwasher last night.”

All you can really say to that is “well shit” and try and figure out how to deal with the symptoms, because the damage was done.

The best part, was when people asked me how I got glutened, I got to say “cat food,” which lead my co-workers to tease me about not eating cat food for days.

And, I’m sure I know what you’re thinking; why don’t you just use grain free cat food?

See, that’s an even more interesting story. We have 2 cats on special diets. One has crystals in his urine. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds, he doesn’t pee diamonds. I mean, if he did, that would be great, but no, these are the kinds of crystals that can block in urinary tract and kill him. So he gets special food and medicine to keep his urine’s pH balanced. So, he has to eat what he has to eat. End of story.

The other cat, well our awesome 17 year old cat was diagnosed with diabetes the same week that I went in for my endoscopy. We tried, really hard to regulate it with diet. We fed him the special diabetes food that the vet sells. He didn’t like it. We fed him super low glycemic food that was both gluten and grain free (literally it was just protein) he wouldn’t eat it. And when I say wouldn’t eat it, I mean nearly starved himself to death wouldn’t eat it.  You know what he would eat? Friskies? We by him food that is $2.00 a can, and he only wants to eat the cheap crap. We bought him duck and chicken livers and he wants to eat “Mariner’s Catch.” So even if I wanted to, we can’t make our cats go gluten free.

So, now we make sure we wash our dishes and counters and my hands and everything that might have touched cat food ever in its entire existence. See, I’m washable, so is my house. My cats, they’re little shits, and whiney as all get out. But they’re the best napping buddies and the best cuddlers (next to my husband) and if I have to take a little risk to make sure that they’re fed and healthy, I’ll take a little risk.

But, you better believe I’m not going to be eating anything that they eat for a very long while.