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Why I Don’t Like Gluten-Free

admin February 4, 2011

 

These days, it’s become practically mainstream to go gluten-free.  More and more people are becoming aware of gluten allergies, and that we could all do with a little less of it (very true).  Even people who don’t specifically have a gluten allergy are choosing gluten-free products now.  But, you know what?  I don’t like gluten-free.  I think, generally, it misses the point.

People are always looking for the easiest way to do something.  Sometimes it’s because they don’t know what else to do; sometimes it’s because they are overwhelmed; and sometimes it’s because they like the easy way out because, well…it’s easy.  Gluten-free, especially as it has become much more recognized (did you know many restaurants now offer gluten-free options or entire menus?), has become an “easy way out.”

The problem in our American diets is not really gluten.  Yes, too much gluten is bad for us.  Yes, a lot of people are sensitive to it.  Yes, we do have many people who are diagnosed with celiac, and avoiding gluten is crucial to their health.

But the real problem is that we just eat too many grain-based foods.  Going gluten-free, especially when people do it because it’s “popular” rather than out of a real health need, is just a way to eat the same amount of grains — just different ones.  Instead of switching out wheat-based foods for naturally gluten-free foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy, we simply replace our breads, snacks, and treats with gluten-free versions, and think we are much healthier.

But many gluten-free products are highly processed and not particularly healthy.  They contain xanthan gum, guar gum, lots of starch, sugar, polyunsaturated oils (which, when heated, are as bad as trans fats), and so on.  A lot of gluten-free flours couldn’t be created in your own kitchen.  I can buy wheat berries and grind my own wheat.  I can’t make my own potato starch, and I’m not sure about bean flours….

“If they’re gluten-free they’re safe!  And we like pretzels!”  But do you really need to eat that much cornstarch?  And if they’re not organic, they’re probably GMO, too.  Most corn is, and a lot of rice is now, too, so unless you always buy organic (even plain corn and rice), you are probably consuming GMOs.

We are destroying our guts and our health anyway by consuming these overly processed food items and heavy amounts of starch and sugar, which still spike our blood sugar.  If you are on a gluten-free diet in order to try to help a particular health condition (like autism), please know it is the overload of starch that is hard on the gut, and that going gluten-free doesn’t change that.  Those products are still quite high in starch and will not allow the gut to heal.  Processed gluten-free products are fooling people into thinking they are taking a step towards becoming healthier, when really they’re not.  It’s kind of like all those artificial sweeteners….  (Please tell me you know those are bad!)

Which do you think is healthier for most people — naturally fermented sourdough, made with whole, non-GMO grains; or processed gluten-free bread with bleached flours, thickeners and gums?

Overall, the solution is just to reduce our overall consumption of grains.  We need to stop thinking “If it’s gluten-free, it’s okay!” and then indulging in junk food.  It’s just like the fat-free cookies that people buy (which are loaded with sugar).  We’re tricked into thinking these products are healthy but it is just mass marketing!  Read the label on a gluten-free product sometime and tell me how many ingredients you can pronounce, and how many you could create in your own kitchen.  I’m betting you’ll find several on there that you can’t.

We need focus, instead, on naturally gluten-free products, like fruits and vegetables, meats, and raw dairy, rather than just replacing our old favorites with possibly-less-bad substitutes.  It’s like buying soda made with real cane sugar from the health food store: yeah, it’s better, but it’s certainly not healthy!  It’s not going to improve your wellbeing in any way.

Is that to say that we should never have any treats?  No.  A rare gluten-free treat is better than a conventional one, to be sure.  But we shouldn’t have a steady diet of gluten-free bread, crackers, pretzels, and cookies, just because “they’re gluten free!”

Should we never eat any grains?  For many people that’s not realistic.  They like to eat corn and rice from time to time.  Hey, we do too, although we’re currently choosing not to.  But instead of serving some form of grains with every meal, or even as the meal, we should be mindful of our food choices and attempt to eat more naturally gluten-free foods.

What do you think of gluten-free?  Are you gluten-free?

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77 Comments

  1. We do some gluten-free baking. I definitely prefer the ease of muffins and bars as on-the-go snacks for my toddler, and I feel like a GF muffin *is* better than Goldfish crackers, so that's what we do. Sometimes we use GF flour mixes, other times we use almond flour. Meals are always meat/veggies/fruit (occasionally dairy)…and if Cam wants something else after he has his eggs and fruit in the morning, he gets a muffin or bar. I'm waiting on a new almond flour cookbook, I imagine a lot of those recipes will replace our favorite GF ones, because I do think almond flour is a healthier ingredient to cook with, over all. Of course, I also bought our GF flour in bulk (cheap!), so I still have to use it up eventually, too. 😉

    I know for our family, our main goal is to eat fewer grains in general. My husband only eats rice and corn, while my son and I have our GF baked treats. BUT none of us eat the insane amount of breakfast cereal, pasta, bread (sandwiches, toast, rolls, etc etc) that we used to eat on a daily basis. For us, GF HAS helped us eat fewer grains, because cutting them out completely is just NOT an option for us at this time. Or maybe we are just being lazy and taking the easy option, but I'm comfortable with that, too.

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  2. Lindsey,

    Not everyone thinks like you. 🙂 A lot of people do simply replace their usual snacks and foods with gluten-free versions with no intention of reducing their grain consumption (or even awareness that they should). If gluten-free flours help you towards being healthier because you're using it as a stepping stone towards a lower-grain lifestyle, great! But they shouldn't just be a replacement for all the usual stuff. You already know that, but not everyone does!

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  3. I COMPLETELY AGREE!!!!!!!! My 5 children are all celiac-so gluten, any gluten, causes sever issues. I do NOT substitute with corn or rice flour-it is just as bad or worse! With gling GF we have also gone fruit and veggie oriented and hardly eat grains. My kids are so much happier and healthier and they appreciate a snack when it is given instead of whining for more. SO coming from a diagnosed mom of celiacs, I completely agree the gluten free is wayyyyy overboard. (and it is not a miracle weight loss diet either!) I love your blog! Thanks!

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  4. If what you're saying is that people who don't have a gluten allergy shouldn't bother with gluten-free, then I agree with you entirely. But for the hundreds of thousands of people who are properly diagnosed gluten-free (that is, by a qualified doctor, and verified by a blood test or biopsy) it isn't a matter of "liking" or "disliking" gluten-free. If you have coeliac disease, gluten makes you very ill indeed. It's painful in the short term and can have serious health consequences in the long term.

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  5. I see this differently. With a family full of celiac children and my own gluten-sensitivity (I have never been tested – but I am likely the genetic link here), I am SO thankful that the American people are on a gluten-free kick. We eat most…ly home-cooked meals with very little pre-packaged anything. I even mix my own g-free grains to bake bread or muffins a couple of times a week. HOWEVER…. imagine a life where you can NEVER have a boxed cookie. Whenever we eat with other families or at church potlucks, it sure is nice that other people can pick up some of these convenience foods (junk food) to give our kids a treat. We have options at birthday parties. We can actually eat out at a few restaurants. Food is such a social thing and for many years celiac people (but esp think about children here) have had to just sit and do without. WOW! I am just NOT going to feel guilty one bit for feeding my kids the occasional gluten-free "junk food". Having to cook gluten-free for a family of 9 (on a budget) is hard enough, thank you. Just my $0.02 worth…..

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  6. Greetings!
    I agree with you that we need to see a shift in what we consume…..more fresh fruits and veggies please!!!
    However, I am not sure you fully understand gluten intolerance in general. For those who suffer with this, it is not just a fad. Nor is it something that comes with a quick fix. It is a genetic disorder. Left unaddressed, it can cause on-going low grade systemic inflammation which can result in a myriad of other diagnoses such as autoimmune diseases and cancers. For a better understanding of this subject, I recommend reading "Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous to Your Health."

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  7. I'll be honest with you – you are such a prolific blogger, I can't keep up with all your content, but this title really grabbed me, and your article was awesome. I'll be tweeting it and sharing it with specific friends. Thanks.

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  8. Oh Amen!!! I have gone gluten free twice hoping to correct all my problems. It did help, BUT I gained a LOT of weight. A lightbulb went off one day, and I asked myself if grains in general are the problem. Did a little research and found grain free diets. It knocked my socks off. Now, I am not all the way there yet. ( I love baking bread!) It certainly is a goal. One only has to look at grain fed animals. They are huge, dull, and quickly led to slaughter. No thanks. Not for this kid! I told a friend once that dough and rolls, leads to dough and rolls. She just laughed at me.

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  9. This post really echos my own thoughts. Going gluten free almost a year ago has really relieved me of some major symptoms, for which I am so thankful. I almost never baked for the first eight months, becuase life was just too crazy with a move to try to start baking gluten free, but around the holidays the kids and I started baking more. I've been appalled at the types of ingredients, just as you describe them in your post. Makes me long for the "good old days" of grinding my wheat. It does really make me want to do two things: learn to make really good sourdough and learn to lean less heavily on grains, altogether.

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  10. I was recently tested and found out I have a wheat allergy, which cuts out a lot of foods basically resorting to a gluten-free diet. I have to agree with you that gluten-free is not the healthiest of choices all the time. When I first found out I felt so deprived and therefore would eat anything that said gluten-free. So not healthy. In fact, I probably ate better and more organic foods before I found out. Now I read the labels, make sure to eat more whole, organic foods and have cut back significantly on the processed gluten-free choices. I am happy, however, that it has grown in popularity…it makes it easier for me to eat out.

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  11. I am with you 100% on xathum gum and other weirdnesses in commercial gluten free products. We do rice and white corn masa/tortillas in limited amounts, but that's it. I wasn't aware than rice had been added to the list of GMO grains…probably an ignorance is bliss thing.

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  12. I find that to be true as well. You're not necessarily improving your health by going gluten free. The same mass produced cereals in the grocery store can sport that "gluten-free" label, but that product is not really different than before gluten-free became the buzz word. I think if you are gluten sensitive, on the other hand, that paying attention to those labels is a good thing (obviously) and if you aren't going to cut back on grains in general, at least that's a step in the right direction.

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  13. Our family has gone mostly gluten-free but more specifically wheat free. First of all, we are all Type Os and wheat is the #1 no-no for Os. Second, my youngest (of 7) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and is ADD big time… his DR suggested we at least try gluten-free and we DO notice a difference when we are diligent. Even his teacher notices it when he gets a little gluten slipped into his diet! My 14yo daughter notices that she gets itchy when she gets some wheat.
    I agree that a lot of pre-made gluten-free products are just another source of empty calories (from grains and sugars). I was shocked at how many rely almost solely on corn! Since we are also trying to avoid corn and potatoes that eliminates many of the worst offenders.
    We DO grind most of our flours at home and yes, you can grind your own bean flours… we just don't rparticularly like them! We stick with tapioca and arrowroot for our starches and, brown rice, amaranth, millet and quinoa for our flours. Almond and coconut meal/flour too.
    We have cut way back on grains in general but really enjoy a batch of brown rice pasta or waffles a couple times a week. Waffles make a nice replacement for sliced bread or burger buns, especially if you make them savory with a little herb, garlic, onion, sun-dried tomato ,etc… As far as the gums go, we use xanthan over guar simply because of our blood type but really, I wouldn't be too concerned about either because we use so very little.
    We are on vacation right now and yesterday went out for breakfast to a place known for their fabulous guava pancakes. I knew I had to try them! Three hours later my stomach was so bloated it was hard as a rock. Ick… but because it was the exception rather than the rule in my diet, recovery time was quick and the brain fog usually accompanying such foods was minimal. I WILL be recreating those pancakes in a gluten-free version for special occasions at home!
    I have to say that I have cooked from scratch and ground our own grain and soaked, soured and sprouted for years and gluten-free is still better for our family. We just FEEL better.

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  14. Commenters:

    I feel like a few of you missed the point. I'm NOT saying being gluten-free is bad; right at the beginning I state we could all do with a little less of it! I'm also not saying we should not have gluten-free products available, nor that we should never indulge in a gluten-free treat.

    The point is, there are too many people (like some of the commenters) who are diagnosed with celiac or intolerance and simply buy processed GF versions of their usual foods. This is not going to make you healthier. Whether you consume a steady diet of regular processed food or GF processed food, it is not "better." It is good to have treats now and then. It is good to have options at restaurants and at birthday parties and other special occasions. It is not good to rely heavily or entirely on processed GF snacks. Too many people think "Hey, if I can have GF cereal bars, I can eat as many as I want because they won't make me sick, they're GF!" Doesn't quite work that way….

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  15. I think it's far easier to be grain-free than merely gluten-free — financially, logistically, and psychologically.

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  16. I agree with the author. We are also gluten free and occassionally have convenience foods. I however try to make virtually everything we heat over here from scratch. I try to limit our grain load as much as possible and hope some day to be able to reduce it further. If people could see how easy and not really that time consuming it is to make foods from scratch they might be a bit more open to the idea.

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  17. I appreciate this because I too avoid GF foods ONLY for the fact that they appear to be more processed and have more "bad ingredients" in them than their counterparts. I am lucky that I do not have a gluten-intolerance, but even if I did these store-bought GF foods would be low on my list and real foods would be high. Thanks for getting people to think about GF foods in a new light.

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  18. I saw an add today for Chex cereal that stated all Chex cereals are gluten free. I was surprised by this add. It made me think that gluten free products are the next fad. I would hope that this is not the case, but it made me think that. There must be a lot of people out there that are gluten intolerant who are otherwise not concerened about nutritional content, or there are a lot of people who think GF foods are healthy regardless of what they are – a processed food. That's unfortunate. They are uninformed. Just like the low fat craze. If I was gluten intolerant, I would not buy Chex cereal. I don't believe there is any nutritional value in Chex cereals or any other extruded cereal for that matter.

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  19. Read The China Study. Meat and dairy cause far more health problems than grains. People should be eating fruits and vegetables and LEGUMES and NUTS and SEEDS.

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    • I have heard a little about that study, but from what I heard, it really wasn’t done well. Besides which, now that I cut out grains and eat more meat (I am even a type A) I feel so much better and have more energy. I don’t have those huge dips that I did. I think ultimately, every person is going to need something a little different. Grains are new in the human diet, and they have to be processed properly in order to break them down.

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    • I totally agree with the reply from Julie. That study has been shown to have a lot of problems scientifically with the way the data was used, etc. Quality, pastured meat, dairy and eggs are the mainstay of our diet and it has helped us get healthier than ever. We are Gluten Free but it is due to allergy (probably celiac but because my son was taken off gluten for another issue and it cleared up a lot of his health issues and he is so sensitive to Gluten…can’t touch anything with gluten or breathe flour, or eat anything gluten, we can’t put him back on gluten to get the test for Celiac). We at lots of vegetables and we do eat Gluten Free Grains, but I try to not make them the mainstay of our diet. We eat legumes, seeds, lots of fruit and vegetables. We just try to not eat much refined sugar and we don’t eat out much. We try to avoid processed foods. We do have a few things for treats, etc. I try to buy all organic (mostly organic) and make things from scratch.

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  20. I agree with you. I have two boys and I work with kids and have for 25 years. It is all the grains that everyone is eating on a daily basis that is causing the autoimmune responses to gluten. NOt only are all the grains that one consumes a culprit but I have found through experimentation that if you stay off of anything that may be an irritant to the intestinal tract then you will function beautifully. We refrain from all of the top ten allergens, we eat wild salmon, and no legumes (except lentils) and chocolate. It's amazing the way your body will feel. This also includes eating a diet of low grains but especially wheat free. Try it and you will see. Kids allergies will disappear, athma will disappear etc… The top ten allergens are wheat, corn, dairy, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg whites, and the rest are fishes, I forget what but eat salmon only.

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  21. Susie Lee,

    The China Study has been heavily discredited. It was poorly done, the data was cherry-picked. I could find you some links, but several people have written critiques of it. The author went into it intending to prove that a mainly plant-based diet was the best — and surprise, surprise, he found exactly what he was looking for! Meat, dairy, etc. are actually very healthy for you, assuming they're from high-quality sources. Grains spike blood sugar, cause tooth decay, and just have a number of problems. Legumes, nuts, and seeds, have similar issues. All need to be properly prepared (soaked, sprouted, or soured) before consumption. I know this both from my research and my family's experience. Do a little more research, check out http://www.westonaprice.org.

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  22. I agree completely. being "gluten free" has become so mainstream, that people assume this is what I mean when I say we are grain free. In the end, it all comes down to eating healthy, whole foods in their unprocessed forms. As for the China study, here is one link explaining all its problems http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/08/03/the-china-study-a-formal-analysis-and-response/

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  23. The author of The China Study has responded to the criticisms: http://www.vegsource.com/articles2/campbell_china_response.htm#storyContinued I'm of the belief that you can "prove" anything and I do what is logical…eating a whole foods plant based diet. The Weston A Price Foundation gives a lot of dangerous nutritional advice based on the research of a dentist from the 30s. No thanks.

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  24. I totally agree with you. I have celiacs and went gluten free about 18 months ago. I never lost any weight in that time because all I did was subsitute the gluten crap with gluten-free crap.
    Since Christmas I have significantly reduced my grain intake, cut out sugar, upped my fruit and veges, discovered I am also egg and dairy intolerant and Im now losing weight and feeling SOOO much better.

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  25. Susie Lee,

    To each his own. We don't all require the exact same type of diet. However, there is PLENTY of research to support Weston A. Price Foundation's teachings, and many, many people who do wonderfully on this type of diet. In my own family, we've been following it for about a year and a half, maybe a bit longer. My husband lost 60 lbs. and I lost 15 lbs. or so. We've easily maintained that without specific exercise programs. My husband's cholesterol is quite low. My resting pulse is around 60. After every physical we're told, "You are in excellent health, keep doing what you're doing!" — by mainstream doctors. Our children are strong and healthy and have never been overweight (and have CRAZY amounts of energy all the time!). Our story is not unique, either. If it were truly "dangerous," this could not be the case.

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  26. You're healthy because you avoid processed foods, not because you avoid grains. I guarantee that if you eat proper amounts of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, your health will not suffer and your teeth will not rot.

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  27. Susie Lee,

    We spent a year doing exactly that. My children had diarrhea when they ate these things on a regular basis, not to mention eczema and behavior issues. It is not so simple as you make it — that a plant-based diet low in meat and dairy is the "best" diet for everyone. Certainly processed food is bad, we all agree there. But we WEREN'T eating it and we still did not do as well as we do now off grains. The same is true of many others. While SOME may do better on a diet heavier in plants (and largely fruits/vegetables, NOT grains), others need much more dairy and meat. And certainly no one should be afraid of it, the lipid hypothesis is tenuous at best….

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  28. I totally agree! I had a baby recently and my mom offered to go shopping for me. Although we usually make our own sourdough I asked her to pick up some bread and she accidentally brought home a GF option full of tapioca pudding, guar gum and LOTS of ingredients I couldn't pronounce. Yuck!

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  29. Totally agree! that dang un balance food pyramid is the tip of the probelm iceberg. We've found so many great grain altrenatives going GF…and I think we are healthier than ever as a result. (not withstanding the most strep throat ever in 12 years!)Blessings!

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  30. I guess I was lucky in a way. When we were trying the SCD for my sons autism and severe gi issues was when I realized I had gluten and bakers yeast issues. Learing the SCD was difficult at first and I was working 50 hours a week, so I didn't have time to fool with all the gluten-free flours, so I ate SCD goodies and felt great. When I finally had time to purchase and try out gf things, I noticed my energy levels dropped. I do best on a grain-free whole foods diet. I will eat a gf item here and there, usualy when we're out, but I have to keep my diet mostly grain-free and refined sugar-free. So being on the SCD first allowed me to see how much better it was for me.

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  31. I did gluten-free for 10 whole days as part of a (truncated) candida cleanse. It was the first time in my life I have ever consciously tried to cut anything so fundamental completely out of my diet, and it was really hard. I think you are right in what you say – but my reasons for avoiding gluten-free products are pettier than that – I just think they taste like junk. There's no pleasure in eating bread/crackers/whatever like that, and for me, pleasure is an important part of eating.

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  32. Regarding the back and forth here about that miserable and embarrassingly bad China Study, i have a wonderful quote here for dear demented ol Doc Campbell and his ilk: (from a salt study journalism piece done by the excellent Gary Taubes and i offer it here specifically about Doc's sad methodology) "University of Glasgow clinician Graham Watt calls it the "Bing Crosby approach to epidemiological reasoning"–in other words, "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative." Bing Crosby epidemiology allows researchers to find the effect they're looking for in a swamp of contradictory data but does little to establish whether it is real."
    The China Study debunked beautifully here: http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/08/06/final-china-study-response-html/

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  33. Living without gluten years ago was a real pain, especially since the health food stores were so far away.
    And I am still annoyed that so many gluten free products use GMO corn & soy beans, instead of organic.
    But if we ever want to eat any cookies or baked goods at all, we must have some source of “gumminess”
    (such as guar gum) to hold our goodies together, since we can’t have gluten to do that. This I can live with.
    Of course, I eat as many organic fruits, vegetables, and pasture raised meats as possible.
    But I always have a few cookies stashed away…and replace them with fresh about twice a week!
    Thanks for your posts.

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    • Hi Jean Marie, it is actually possible to bake without any guar or xanthan gum when doing gluten-free baking. You don’t need that ‘gumminess’ at all. I have baked this way extensively, and have several recipes on here if you are interested.

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  34. Yep, I’m gluten-free. After a lifetime of headaches, a few years of chronic body aches, pains, numbness, not to mention chronic stomach issues (!), I finally found out that I have Celiac disease. No jokes. It’s not an easy lifestyle. But, after four years of tests, labs, poking and prodding, doctors injecting steroid shots into my aching hip joints, I am so blessed to now know what was wrong with me!
    Worst part, I thought I was dying, or had Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis for years…it took a kind, patient rheumatologist to listen to me crying to find the answer. She ordered many vials of blood work to be done, labs came back with the answer.
    My life has changed drastically – for the better. I am “g free” and have to be. That’s how it is.

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    • Heather, you missed the point of the post. 🙂 A lot of people go gluten-free because it’s “cool” right now, not because they actually are celiac or have a particular need. Also, they simply replace normal processed foods with gluten-free versions of it, and believe they are so much healthier just because it’s gluten-free. That’s not true. There is NOTHING wrong with being gluten-free, some people need to be. But processed food is processed food, and none of it’s healthy.

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      • Heather! I know how you feel the doctors told me THE EXACT SAME THING. They thought I had lupus and/or RA….I thought I was dying too 🙁 It was so so scary! The worst part was that my doctors (including my rheumatologist) couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me! They told me to take tylenol and exercise, they labelled my sickness as “fibromyalgia” – which is a name given to unexplained pain and has over 250 symptoms (a scape-goat for not finding the real problem)…even though I was on crutches because I had such bad joint pain!!!!! >:( Anyway, even though I had hives on my stomach for 6 months they didn’t BOTHER giving me an allergy test because they said it was probably unrelated and they wouldn’t be able to figure it out. …So thousands of dollars later (tests and appointments)… they still couldn’t figure out anything and I thought I was going to die young (20 at the time). I felt 80 years-old, my hair was falling out, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t function, my joint pain was horrendous and smelling any gluten food made me feel like I was going to vomit (not that I knew that was the cause).

        One day for almost no reason, I decided (with divine intervention from JESUS! :))) that I would get rid of all my conventional processed crap food and buy all organic. With out realizing, I inadvertently ate gluten-free for 2 days and MY LIFE WAS CHANGED…I felt 20 again!!!…. I always had digestive issues growing up, even involuntary regurgitation (probably a combination of pre-celiac and diet soda)…No my parents didn’t eat healthy ever, diet soda was “healthy” :'( I marched back to the doctor for my next appt and told them I figured out the problem (no thanks to them) and never went back.

        Needless-to-say, I thought I was the only case that was first labeled lupus/ RA and It’s interesting to know someone else had a similar case! Going GF changed my life but I do agree that I need to cut out sugar and relying on grains…Sometimes I eat processed food too. :/ It’s been a huge challenge for me to eat fruits/veggies…Luckily ModernAMama gave me some advice on how to start up and I’m hoping to ditch my old habits for better ones. Even though I buy all organic, I can still do better.

        Also, I saw someone post about the almond flour cookbook…I didn’t like almost any of the food I’ve made from it so far…but I guess I’ll keep trying…The texture is kind of weird for me, kind of gritty. Plus, I don’t know where to get bulk almond flour…the small packages I buy are like 11 dollars ! :O

        Anyway, less processed foods, less / almost no sugar, and less grains seems to me the consensus for better health! …I think we can all agree with that! 🙂

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        • I haven’t tried almond flour yet, I am going to try, but my mom was telling me you could make it yourself in the blender. I suppose you’d have to have a good blender, or a food processor, but worth a try?

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          • Maybe. A few friends and I tried it, and didn’t think it was. We just look for good sales and buy in bulk. Not much more expensive (sometimes cheaper!) and much easier. I bought most recently from http://www.honeyville.com.

          • Almond flour is very easy to make and so much easier on your wallet if made at home

          • Where do you get your almonds? I have found that buying almond flour in bulk is cheapest, even cheaper than buying whole almonds. Plus I can get it blanched, which would be crazy hard to do at home. I haven’t found it worth it to me to make my own almond flour.

  35. Agree.. some people do not understand this concept! I was told about a lady who fed her kids gluten-free jam for a snack because it was gluten-free=must be healthy! NOT. no way, that is certainly not the case.
    thanks!

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  36. I initially lost weight on a gluten-free regime because I could not eat any cookies, cakes or breaded snacks. So it was more of a grain-free diet by default. But now I have gained a lot of weight because of all the snacks that have become available. So I am transitioning my family to a grain-free, sugar-free diet.

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  37. I agree with the point you are making, although we DO have to be gluten free in my house of 6 due to being sensitive (and I have Hashimotos, my daughter with 2 autoimmune diseases) ….I have found other grains are just as bad. I personally can’t even tolerate them anymore…finding this out after becoming more in tune with my body trying to recover from autoimmune disease and other issues. A small amount of rice is okay, but in reality changing the way I ate …more REAL foods is what helped. Proteins, veg, fruits, etc….and no or less grains. For my kids, we had already been phasing out all the junk food for years and yes, I do occasionally get chips, but there are better versions, non -GMO, etc. It’s nice restaurants are catering more to the GF community, but I still end up eating protein & veg when going out. I am a stickler for label reading and not knowing what is in my food really bugs me.

    Often when speaking to others about going gluten free the first thing I mention is do NOT replace your current boxed crap with gluten free boxed crap….it’s still crap! Still NOT good for your overall health! Learn to love REAL food, to cook, bake, etc again. (or for the first time!) All those “foods” are convenient and at times okay in a real pinch (but we bring food with us for snacks usually or I know what to grab quick – my kids LOVE fruits & veg) but to eat them everyday…just as bad off as you were before. Often people who say they feel nothing going GF it’s due to what you are mentioning…replacing them with other grains and/or processed GF food.

    I will say for sure eating grain free has helped me beyond words…first thing I noticed – my moods….lifelong mental struggles diminished. I probably always had this issue and never knew. I wish I had know earlier, maybe I would not have gotten so sick! Also, as I said it helped to change the way I thought about food…reading about real food, how to prepare, get back to the basics!!! I don’t walk down the boxed aisles anymore!

    Interesting post. 🙂

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  38. I’m gluten free, and have been for 2 years – first with a self-diagnosis after a blood test came back high but a biopsy was negative, then a different doctor confirmed both a wheat and corn allergy. The corn allergy keeps me from most prepackaged gluten free foods, and I have certainly diminished my overall grain consumption, but I do think there is room for balance. There are some grain options that are healthy to have – certain types of rice and gluten free oats among them, also amaranth, buckwheat, teff, quiona and a handful of other “gluten free” grains that people outside of the health food/food allergy movement have never heard of. And I don’t see an occasional treat that uses a higher percentage of starch or processed flours as a problem – food allergies are hard enough to deal with without denying yourself the occasional treat. I do agree that the best diet shifts away from being grain focused to more veggie and protein focused, but I don’t think eliminating a whole food group carte blanche is healthy either, unless your body isn’t capable of digesting the grains at all. Grains have been part of a traditional diet even in Bible times, and while we don’t have access to the grains they did (due to cross breeding and genetic modification) I see a point in continuing to consume them unless my body indicates otherwise. If I had a high powered enough blender/food processor, I could make most of my gluten free flours at home, and look forward to the day I can since it’s cheaper. Until then, I’ll continue to buy my unbleached flours, use flax and chia as thickeners and binders, skip the gums, and enjoy my gluten free baking when I choose to do it. You can be gluten free, have grains, and be healthy about it.

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  39. I think sometimes we eat or use products that cause reactions, and we think it’s a gluten problem even when it’s not (I’m referring to people who have a gluten sensitivity rather than diagnosed celiac disease). For example, I was finding that after brushing my teeth and my daughter’s teeth in the morning, I was feeling bloated and headachy by mid-morning, and she was getting a lot of canker sores in her mouth all the time. The doctor didn’t (of course) know anything, and I finally mentioned it to the dentist, who said that maybe it was the toothpaste we were using, which had gluten, fluoride and SLS, all of which could have been irritating our systems. He suggested we try a natural toothpaste (he recommended Dr. Nate’s Naturals, though I think there are others out there) and I feel like it’s made a big difference. I don’t have mid-morning headaches any more and my daughter doesn’t get sores in her mouth. Was it the gluten, or the fluoride, or the SLS? I don’t know – I just know we won’t be using ‘regular’ toothpaste any more.

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  40. Although I agree with you that many people are “missing the point” of the gluten free lifestyle and just consuming GF processed food out there just because it says “gluten free” thinking they are consuming a healthier diet, I disagree that the “movement” is not a good one. You see, for those of us, me included, that get desperately ill if I accidentally consume gluten, it is EVERYTHING for these companies to label their products gluten free (those who are honestly gluten free that is). If it weren’t for the laws in labeling these products, those of us with severe gluten allergies would not be able to even think about consuming them even if there were NO gluten ingredients listed. It would be nice to just eat naturally gluten free foods, but we don’t have the luxury to make “best guesses” like those who do not have a serious allergy to gluten. So, it is essential that not only processed foods are marked gluten free, but also foods as unprocessed as rice, beans, etc. that are packaged in a facility that also processes gluten. I find it more necessary to have these products than not. But I agree that it is up to the consumer to understand that processed foods, and even processed gluten free foods are just as bad for you when it comes to overall health if you over consume them. Thank you for the post. It’s worth having this discussion because many people don’t understand the significance of gluten free labeling and why it is important. Think of it as similar to a peanut allergy – it’s necessary for the safety of allergic individuals.

    Reply

  41. You could also write about “Why I Don’t like Sugar-Free” or “Why I don’t like Organic” (to an extent). Example: I know MANY people who will fill their shopping carts with “sugar free” cake mixes, cookies, candies, ice cream, etc… all processed junk filled with splenda, aspartame, sweet n low or whatever else they use to artificially sweeten things these days! Same for “organic” junk food. Some people think that just because it says “organic” then it’s OK (my own mother is one of them)! Organic sugar, wheat flour, pasta, cereals all will spike your blood sugar as much as non-organic. And while it has less toxins and chemicals, it is not nourishing to you or your babies’ bodies!

    Reply

  42. I have been gluten free for over 7 years for CFIDS/fibromyalgia and it has really helped (also, dairy free, fructose free, nightshade family vegetable free, etc). I however can’t tolerate any gluten free things, EXCEPT QUINOA!!! If I eat rice, I fall asleep almost immediately…not helpful for fatigue. Corn makes me very achey and worsens the fibro. pain. I just don’t tolerate any bready things even homemade. But quinoa is my staple. I think I do so well with it because it is not a grain. It is actually a seed related to spinach. So anyways I highly recommend quinoa- and it is so healthy and very high in protein (a complete protein actually) and it is also used in the traditional culture for nursing moms (to help increase milk supply, just like oatmeal can do).

    Reply

  43. I’ve actually just started going low grain in preparation for trying gluten free (based on symptoms I’ve been having — they say the top two are gluten and dairy and I don’t think I can give up dairy!) and have already noticed that some of my problems (particularly digestive) have lessened. My problem is that I’m a huuuugely picky eater! I’m doing okay upping my milk and butter and eggs, and even fruit, but veggies have always been the problem. Luckily my husband has requested daily salads so I’m assured of at least a few.

    My question would be – how many grains would you think are enough? I know that everyone needs to take into account their individual body, but still.. In my case, the USDA recommends 6-11 servings of grain; I’m making an effort to have only about 3 a day. (Although I’ve occasionally gone over that already to like 4-4.5 – mostly at the end of the day when I’ve been really good about it all day lol)

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  44. I agree. I think it is an important first step to figuring out if you are sensitive, but ultimately, trading grains for GF versions of the same foods is not going to get many people the healing they need. We started gluten, dairy and soy free, and moved onto primal eating, which is where we feel healthiest. Whole recognizable foods made from scratch, high on healthy fats and low on starches and fruits. It’s a goal to get healed to the point that we can eat a full GAPS or full Primal diet, but as of right now, we have to be really strict. Incidentally, I think this is why the GFCF diet misses its mark in many kids with ASD. That is why we started down this path, to help my oldest son, and GFCF would never have been enough of a change for him. He was just as bloated and sleepless eating a gluten free waffle as he was eating a whole wheat one.

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  45. Um, I’m a Celiac. “A little less” of gluten would still leave me incredibly sick.

    I also can’t eat dairy or soy, which cuts out 99.9% of processed foods anyway. While I try to eat healthily, I am also breastfeeding and occasionally am out and about with no access to food other than something that I brought with me – and I get very hungry! In an ideal world, we would have stores on every corner offering some healthy snack or meal, but we don’t so I have to bring something portable and non-perishable in the summer.

    Not to mention the social aspect of eating. There are times it is more important to have good fellowship than be an absolute stickler to perfect healthy eating. Of course I have to never eat gluten again in my life, but I am willing to eat a meal or two in my life that isn’t perfect to be a good friend.

    It is certainly not the basis of how I eat, but I am very grateful for some gluten free options to tide me over every now and again.

    Reply

    • As I stated in other places, I’m not talking about celiacs. I’m talking about people who have no particular need to avoid gluten, but believe they will be healthier if they do it anyway (and then still go buy processed gluten-free foods). It’s good that gluten-free options are there for occasional use, especially for people who really NEED them. But people with no health issues are fooling themselves if they think gluten-free processed foods are magically healthy.

      Reply

  46. Wow, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these posts! I read something on Dr. Mercola’s website about benefits of going gluten free, so I have tried it these last 2 weeks. I was warned though to read the lable before I bought a gluten free product, not to pickup anything that said “modified” and look for ones with no starch products. I didn’t buy a lot of snacky gluten free, but broths, and i bought a corn flake ceredal that only had 3 ingredients in it. I also was looking for a gluten free substitue to flour, so I ventured for the first time to a organic supermarket, which Im sure can also hook you if you dont know what to look for. So I picked up corn flour, it was the cheapest to try and i thought wouldnt taste the most normal to start, but now I’m reading a lot of posts that say to stay away from corn? How come? And which flour would you recommend for things like bread or doughs?
    And side note, when picking out vegetables, I’m hearing that organic is best, although my heart sank when i saw that organic red peppers were $8.5/lb! Then someone said you can just wash the pesticides off the fruit/veg, that it isn’t absorbed? Anyone know about this?

    Reply

    • Hi Kimberley,

      The issue with corn is that if it’s not organic, it might be genetically modified. Even if it’s not, corn is very high in phytic acid, and it’s hard to reduce that through normal soaking. I don’t use corn at this time, but am trying to figure out a way to soak or sprout it so I can use it occasionally. I like to use sprouted wheat, soaked wheat, or almond flour to bake with, most of the time — depending on whether I want the grains or not. Brown rice flour is not bad and I buy brown rice pasta sometimes (although my daughter now won’t eat it — loves spaghetti squash, though!).

      If crops are sprayed, the pesticides get into the soil and grow into the plants, and can’t be washed off. Peppers are a pretty highly-sprayed plant. That said, $8.50/lb. is ridiculously expensive, so I’d look for a local farmer or another place to buy, or skip them most of the time. Sometimes you might find “lightly sprayed” local produce for much cheaper. That is largely what we have done on things like that, that are expensive.

      Reply

      • I have heard a little about sprouting grains, do you have any links to more reading on it? Why do it, benefits, how to do it etc…?

        Reply

  47. Regarding bean flour:
    I would imagine that it is probably not all that difficult to grind your own flour from dried beans (say garbanzo beans). The hard part would be learning how to work with it versus wheat flour since it would probably absorb liquids differently, etc. I have used recipes before (baking for someone with Celiac’s) that use pureed cooked beans instead of flour (and a portion of liquid that would otherwise be needed). It worked out really well – was delicious and had added protein! Definitely worth considering for occasional use at least.

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  48. Just found out 2 weeks ago; gluten sensitive, candida overload, lactose intolerant. I love food, HATE to cook. Most meals are “convenience” food. I have been diagnosed; depressed, fibromyalgia, CFS, hypothyroid, IBS, GERD, hiatal hernia for yrs. Quit taking the anti depressants a month ago due to the side effects. When I found out about the gluten etc. issues, we were on vacation for 2 weeks. I’m so overwhelmed! I cry every night! My family is supportive, but my husband delivers bread for a living. He brings glutened items home all the time and my 14 yo daughter is a junk food junkie. I feel sabotaged from the start. I have tried to be gf for the 2 weeks but am so sick of salads and I feel more bloated and “weepy” than ever. Haven’t even begun to think about the yeast problem. We live in a small town without a nice health food store. I don’t even know where to turn or how to begin.

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  49. Kim – Start simple!! Fresh fruit, fresh veggies with hummus, sauteed chicken, aged cheddar cheeses, quinoa salad with balsamic and veggies, smoothies with almond milk and flax seed and fruit……

    I have your same problem – I am a pastry chef!! I am surrounded by gluten products all day, and am required to taste and try them regularly. Kinda frustrating. But, I know how much better I feel when I avoid it as much as possible, so my goal is to stay simple and away from grain.

    Can you and your daughter work together? Challenge each other to a 30-day grain-free diet, and set out a reward such as a movie night, camping trip, spa day, whatever is your favorite activity. If there is no goal, it’s so much harder.

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  50. I agree whole-heartedly. We live in a society that is so fucused on packaged and processed food and of course they all contain grains (gluten free or not) that the health of our society is plummeting. Everyone who consumes grains could most like use a reduction in their diets. If you fink buying packaged or processed food is healthy because it gluten free, you are wrong. But they are great as a treat if you or someone you know are going to be in a food centered social event or traveling. We typically bring our own food and snacks to avoid consuming foods out of our diet and to keep the kids emotionally stable as their moods change dramatically when consuming many chemically based foods.

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  51. I have gone gluten free due to migraines. Since doing so I have dropped 15 pounds and have lost the most of my “wheat belly”. But taking out the gluten has also regulated my sugars. I wasn’t eating a ton of breads, etc and making my own but my body has a sensitivity to it.

    Now since doing so I occasionally treat myself in gluten free ginger snaps but that is a rare occasion. I don’t buy gluten free bread very often and have maybe 1 slice a week. When I cut out the gluten I had NO desire to replace it with premade products. And since doing so have felt SO much better.

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  52. I just have to say that we grow our own wheat with no chemicals and grind it and bake our bread….how can this be wrong??? We eat toast for breakfast and that is abot it for the day..
    Cindy in MN

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    • I’m curious about this too. We grind wheat to make fresh bread. I’ve thought about going GF, but I can’t justify it for the money I’ve spent on my bread machine and mill. I understand that store-bought bread is unhealthy and processed, but I dont understand what’s so awful about grinding wheat to make bread that has all the nutrients God intended because we use the whole wheat berry. Please enlighten me!

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  53. I totally agree. If you don’t need to be GF there is no health benefit to buying GF “replacement” products.

    My biggest irritation is when clearly, naturally GF, gets the GF label… I’ve seen it on water, potatoes, rice, corn and meat, veggies and fruit. If we weren’t so naive to what goes into our food this probably wouldn’t be a problem

    (and there are really few foods that naturally contain gluten (cross-contamination aside) Wheat, Barley, Rye, and Malts… (oats, technically aren’t but growing practices may lead to cross-contamination…)

    Reply

    • I think it’s also a case of foods having so many additives that something that seems as simple as a frozen turkey or rotisserie chicken actually COULD have gluten in it. I read the labels on everything because I have been surprised more than once.

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  54. I have been gluten free for about 3 now (with a few slips that I have paid for) and I am also trying to be aware of the GMOs and unhealthy processing of foods. One thing I would like to add here for your readers is a note on the gums, xanthan and guar. I have done a little reasearch into these and have to say if you use these in your GF cooking, you are not doing yourself any favors. I have however found a wonderful substitute…Chia seeds. I use ground chia seeds exclusively to replace xanthan and guar gums in my recipes and it works wonderfully. No weird textures or tastes, just good food and good for you. I have also heard that ground flax seeds work well, but have not tried this yet.

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    • Can you please explain to me why these are bad? (xanthan and guar gums, I mean) I’m brand-new to this gluten-free thing, having recently been diagnosed with allergies in me and my kids. Dairy too, but that’s another matter. I’m trying to baby-step my way into this new lifestyle, as it has been hard on my kids trying to go cold-turkey off of all their favorites, like our home-ground/home-baked wheat bread, blueberry muffins, pancakes, etc. (not to mention all yogurt, cheese, kefir…) I understand the intent of this post, and agree in principle, but need some grace to get there. Anyway, I’ve been learning all about baking with alternative flours, and the gums are often called for in the recipes I’m seeing for flour blends. This is the first I’ve seen that they might not be good for us. Can you point me to some resources?

      Reply

  55. You can actually make your own potato starch and bean flour, but I absolutely agree with you. People make GF eating so complicated because they can’t fathom just not having a bread product with a meal.

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  56. Hi Kate, I agree that no one is going to improve their health by consuming gluten free processed food. Processed food is bad for health with or without the g-free label. However, I wish you could’ve simply made that fabulous argument without your rant about how gluten-free diets are so “mainstream” and that it’s an “easy way out”. Really? because most people I know would rather lose an eye then give up their ubiquitous, super convenient and delicious glutinous pizzas, croissants, bagels, cupcakes, triple layer cakes, etc. Have you ever met anyone who decided to give up gluten just for fun? or just bc their best friend did? Have you tried g-free products? bc they do not taste anywhere as delish as their more popular counterparts. in fact, most people suppress a gag when I share my buckwheat crackers with them.

    Here is why you are seeing more restaurants with g-free items on the menu: More and more people are being diagnosed now with gluten intolerance bc the science to support it came out not too long ago. And so more and more health practitioners are finally able to give their long-suffering patients an answer to their chronic fatigue, insomnia, bloating, migraines, unexplained inflammatory conditions, etc etc. It may seem like an easy way out and a fad to you but to those who’ve had many of their above symptoms diminish or disappear after doing the very challenging task of going g-free, a fad it is not.

    But yes: most people with such conditions will never experience true optimal health if they simply replace regular processed goods with g-free ones. Usually what happens (from what I’ve experienced in myself and seen on countless online forums) is that once a person gives up gluten, cravings for sugar and other processed foods diminish and a path towards eating whole nourishing foods usually begins. Haven’t you noticed this with your g-free friends as well? But! eating more healthily on a regular basis doesn’t preclude an occasional g-free goodie or meal in a resto with friends.

    If I sound a bit peeved it’s because almost every “…….” time I tell someone that I’m now g-free, they roll their eyes and I have to explain to them that since i’ve given up gluten, my insomnia and other symptoms have disappeared and my auto-immune condition has almost reversed, etc etc.

    I have dozens and dozens of friends and family … and guess what? Not one other person has decided to join me in my g-free easy fun. The few times a year that I go to a resto with g-free options — guess again? Not once has any of my undiagnosed mates chosen the g-free item on the menu.

    Best health to you,

    Chris

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    • Yes, I have been gluten and grain-free. I know how hard it is to eat out while “free” of anything as most people don’t understand. And still I see people picking up gluten-free products, making the mistake that they are healthier — in real life, on TV shows, etc. Some are just hoping that by replacing a few products with non-gluten varieties they’ll be healthier. Others actually try to go gluten-free. They’re not strict, obviously. But they do have the perception that “no/low gluten is healthier.”

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      • I have continued to say the exact same thing!!! I do not like being gluten free. it is a pain. Yesterday I tried to eat a hamburger with a “gluten free” bun and it killed my stomach. I also tried to eat a sandwich with gluten free bread. I rarely eat starches besides rice noodles, rice and quinoa, so my system doesn’t like all the other junk. Can you expound on a “naturally fermented sourdough” recipe? Are there any sourdough breads out there to purchase you think fit the bill? I really hate baking. I really want sourdough. It is a conundrum. :/

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  57. I actually think gluten is the healthiest part of bread. Take that out and it is just empty carbohydrates. Ever had a vegetarian burger or hot dog? Chances are it was made of GLUTEN. Did you get sick like a dog afterward? I certainly don’t. I think there are a certain (small percentage) of people who really are allergic to gluten – just like there are a certain small percentage of people who are allergic to strawberries. I’m not one of them and most of you aren’t either. I’m not going to cut out strawberries from my diet because it makes some other people sick. I’d gladly add pure gluten to my diet if it was accessible or even double or triple up on it and make my own bread that would be moist and delicious as compared to the nasty gluten free variety. I started consuming whey protein every day and love it. I don’t see the difference. Unless you are allergic, protein is protein.

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  58. We are gluten-free. I agree that it is a rather disturbing fad, and a lot of the GF products are so terrible for you. But, we are gluten free because both my daughters have reactions to them. My older one breaks out in raw spots and/or is up crying most of the night for 1-2 nights and the baby has solid bloody stools [she is exclusively breastfed] and cries for three days straight when I eat wheat (we just added it back in a bit to see if she could tolerated it… and I am about to go nuts).

    I want to go back on GAPS at some point, but being dairy, egg, and many nut free the thought is so overwhelming. So we are sticking to homemade gluten free foods for now (it is a blessing in a way that my older daughter can also not have corn and soy, that rules out 90% of the processed stuff.)

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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