The Dirty Little Secret about Gluten Free

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According to a study from the National Institutes of Health 5-10% of Americans may have gluten sensitivity. But where I live in Marin County it seems like being gluten free is almost as popular as Jennifer Lawrence.  What I keep wondering is why all of a sudden are so many people having trouble with wheat and gluten? How can the staff of life, our daily bread, and the food that has sustained much of western culture for 10,000 years suddenly cause so much trouble? However, simply avoiding wheat and gluten has its problems as well.

Here's a repost from: The Healthy Home Economist

The Dirty Little Secret about Gluten Free by Sarah

Many people eat out a lot during the Holidays and my family was no exception. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we ate at a restaurant probably more times than we did during the entire rest of the year!

Getting a decent restaurant meal that won’t give you a headache or make you feel sluggish the next day is challenging enough, but for those who are gluten free, it can be nearly impossible.

While I personally do not eat gluten free all the time, I make an effort to avoid conventionally prepared wheat in restaurants.  I have observed over the years that while the organic wheat I grind fresh and carefully prepare traditionally at home by either sprouting, soaking or sour leavening causes me no trouble, restaurant pasta, bread, croutons and other processed wheat items make me feel extremely tired and sometimes achy for a day or two.

So, when I discovered that a family gathering was scheduled to go to dinner at The Olive Garden a few weeks ago, you can imagine that I was not all that excited at the prospect.

The Olive Garden could aptly be called the “Pasta Capitol of America”.  The dishes are embarrassingly huge with pasta and bread flowing nonstop from the moment you sit down until you roll out the door a couple hours later. Even if you order a nonpasta dish, you get an obligatory side of spaghetti that could feed two people by itself.

While the food at The Olive Garden tastes ok, how it makes you feel is quite another matter. My husband and I like to joke that those who eat at The Olive Garden likely collapse on the couch in front of the TV for 3 hours straight after getting home. Either that or an emergency stop at the 7-Eleven for a Big Gulp coffee would be necessary to stay awake!

I ended up arriving at the Olive Garden before the rest of my family, so I had the opportunity to chat with the hostess for a few minutes before getting seated. I was surprised to discover during our conversation that The Olive Garden has a gluten-free menu, complete with Penne Rigate and salad without croutons. Non-pasta dishes were served with a gluten free penne pasta.

After looking at the menu for a few minutes, I asked about the ingredients of the gluten free pasta.  I was thinking it was probably a rice or quinoa pasta, which would have been fine with me.  I use rice or quinoa pasta myself at home occasionally, and a pasta meal once in awhile is not going to be problematic within the context of a nutrient dense diet the majority of the time.

I really wanted to order pasta as ordering steak or fish at a pasta restaurant is not usually a good idea. Ordering the restaurant specialty is the way to go if you want to get a decent tasting meal.

Unfortunately, the news from the waitress was disappointing to say the least. She told me the gluten free pasta was made primarily from corn and not organic corn either.

While I don’t have an issue with corn, I definitely have an issue with genetically modified (GMO) corn which has been linked with all manner of serious health problems and was found to induce huge tumors in rats (this study was quietly retracted during Thanksgiving due to the messy public relations it was causing the biotech industry, not because of bad science).

to read the rest of this post…The Dirty Little Secret about Gluten Free

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist