I was delighted to learn that Gluten-Free Globetrotter was included as a gluten-free travel resource on this infographic about eating gluten-free around the world. The visuals are helpful, especially for the brand names in different countries. Once I am familiar with a foreign gluten-free brand, I tend to stick to that brand when I am traveling. Seeing familiar logos for gluten-free brands, like from Orgran and Schar, is reassuring in a non-English speaking country. I also always encourage people to get familiar with some key phrases that help you communicate your need to eat gluten-free.
That’s my goal. Total healing. I think it can be done too, but the only problem I have is that I don’t know if I’m celiac or not, which would be a whole other story. If it is ‘just’ gluten intolerance though, it seems like it should be something one could get over, with the proper nutrition specific to those with weaker digestive tracts and supplements to support rebuilding the digestive process. It seems like all the people who have problems digesting wheat, and there are many, probably have a variety of reasons for their gluten issues other than today’s gluten being notoriously harder to digest than it used to be. Here are two reasons that I can think of, though I’m quite certain there are many more:
1. Digestive process being hurt by antibiotics in both food and use in medical treatment. Why? Because antibiotics kill the good bugs as well as the bad bugs, meaning the probiotics in our guts are killed off when we take antibiotics, which is why (some) doctors encourage eating yogurt a few hours after taking antibiotics. Once the micro-system of one’s gut is out of balance, the whole digestive system gets wonky. One reason is that bad gut bacteria flourishes on sugars and partially digested food, and guess what we eat way more of than ever before~ sugar. So the chances of taking antibiotics and messing up the little micro-environment down there is very high, and it tends to have a snowball effect.
2. Our diets are largely sub-optimal for digestive bliss. Fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that break down food but our diets mostly do not contain a large percentage of fruits and vegetables. Even vegans and vegetarians usually eat more beans and processed carbs (which are very hard to digest) than fresh produce. If you are familiar with the low-FODMAP diet, then you will know that even many fruits and veggies are on the ‘gassy’ list because they are harder to digest and therefore tend to sit in the gut too long. If your digestive system is ‘off’ I suggest looking at low FODMAP information to see if this rings true for you. If you are eating foods that are causing any kind of digestive distress, you are weakening your system which again, has a snowball effect. People of course can have different foods set them off other than the high-FODMAP ones so it is important to be aware of your body and it’s reactions to any food, but looking at the FODMAP information might be a good place to start for many. Another place to start might be an IgG food panel test that your doctor or more likely, a naturopath, can administer.
2.5 This is related to the above but needed its own space. There is a book, website, and subsequent subculture and devotees to the idea that even severe digestive disorders such as crohn’s disease, IBS, and Celiac can indeed be cured with a specific diet. I read the book a couple of years ago and was intrigued but my lifestyle right now doesn’t lend itself to following a strict diet like the one they tout which is, as you might suspect, very light on carbs and liberal with meat, though vegetarians are given options. If you are interested, check out the website and if you try it please let me know how it goes because I really want to hear all about it.
So if there are causes to gluten intolerance, it seems to me there must also be ways to correct the issue, such as looking at the micro-biome of the gut and working toward long-term probiotic health by taking supplements, being mindful of antibiotic use, and when antibiotics cannot be helped eating more fermented foods, taking higher dosage probiotics and eating less sugar. Then looking at other supplements that support the digestive system as well as taking an honest look at one’s diet and focusing on (personal) gut-friendly foods as much as possible.
So far, my action plan is the following: I always take high potency probiotics and change the brand each time I buy to get the biggest variety of strains into my system. Other supplements I take in support of my digestive system are apple cider vinegar before meals mixed with water and aloe juice. Enzymes before meals if eating anything at all questionably hard to digest. Turmeric on a daily basis for inflammation throughout the whole body including the digestive tract. And most recently I’ve added in Vital Nutrients GI Repair Nutrients.
There are other herbs that I am considering adding in but I take a lot right now so I’m going to hold off and see how a couple of bottles of the GI Repair work for me. I have no idea when I’ll feel comfortable testing this out but I am guessing it will be a while~ probably when I feel like no foods are troubling my system then I’ll give wheat a try to see what happens. Incidentally, I just read a brief article on Schar’s fb page that said if you are already eating gluten-free and want to get tested for celiac, you need to eat wheat for at least a month at a rate of 4 servings per day before getting tested. That’s a lot of wheat! But so good to have the specific amount in mind for future testing. I might do that at some point, but for now I am just going to focus on healing what I can.
Halloween is a mixed-emotion day for anyone with food allergies or intolerances. It’s hard to be a kid and go from the excitement of having a bag full of candy to the disappointment of setting aside all the forbidden ones. Luckily Halloween has always been more about the dressing up than the candy for my kids , but it’s still always a big let-down when they sort their goodies. I try to have extra gluten-free, dairy-free candy here that the can trade for the stuff in their bags, including some of their favorite chocolates that they are certainly not going to find trick-or-treating. It helps. And it also gives them some character really, to have to show some judgment, understand consequences, give up some things that are hard to give up because it’s the healthier choice for them. They get to learn it isn’t the end of the world to part with some candy and that is a lesson in emotional maturity that I can be thankful for. They handle it, and so do I. Let’s enjoy this day everyone! Be safe and have fun.
This bread surprised us for two reasons. The first being that the second ingredient listed is sour dough, made with rice flour and water. When I bought the bread I had only looked at the area that says “contains: soy” to see if it contained dairy and or eggs, so I happily bought it when I saw that it didn’t. I had no idea I was buying a sourdough bread! But as soon as I tasted it I could taste the sour dough and was so excited~ a dairy free, egg free gluten-free, sourdough sandwich bread is something we haven’t had since….well, ever, actually. We are eating a lot of sandwiches these days.
The second reason this loaf surprised me was because it isn’t in the normal spot where I shop for bread at the Whole Foods I frequent. I imagine this is one of those things probably debated among store employees, vendors, brokers, and merchandisers. At the Whole Foods I go to there is a dedicated gluten-free aisle, but there are also gluten-free items throughout the store. Normally when I buy bread, I go to where all the bread is and pick up a loaf or a bag of bagels or rolls. Schar bread is not there. It is only in the aisle dedicated to gluten-free items and by the time I hit that aisle my cart is usually already filled with bread products I got from the bread area. Hm. I know it is difficult to set up a store, I’ve worked in several myself, so I’m curious what people think…Do you like your store to have the gluten-free items mixed in with the other food, or do like it all in one specified space? Or mixed, with a dedicated gluten-free area but with other gluten-free items mixed with the other food in all the other aisles?
Aren’t these flowers just the prettiest? I got them at the Redmond Farmers Market last Saturday and they are still going strong in our front windows. These aren’t what I went to the Redmond Market intending to buy, but I couldn’t help myself, especially since they had such an inviting price ($5). The Redmond Market, located right next to the Redmond Town Center, is a Saturday tradition from May-October and the gluten-free options there are abundant. If you are hungry you can order a gluten-free crepe (made where the other crepes are so do be careful)at Anita’s crepes or enjoy a tamale just down the way at Hermosa Mexican Foods’ booth which is my son’s favorite thing about the market by far. Wildflour Gluten Free bakery has a booth there and when I get there early enough I buy two of their baguettes, but they sell out fast! Many of their items are dairy free but not all, and most have eggs in them, but all are gluten-free and there is a nice variety at her booth. It is delicious fun to buy a pint of fresh berries and sit down with a baguette and snack while watching some live music that rotates through there all summer. Another gluten-free bakery that has a booth there is Fancy Free bakery which touts a much longer list of ‘free-of’ ingredients~ no peanuts, eggs, dairy, etc, so pretty much anyone could find a treat there, and they will not be disappointed. I bought sourdough bread there and it is truly sour-ly awesome. I heard two other vendors discussing with near rapture the lemon bars they bought there but when I went to check them out myself I was too late…definitely getting to the market earlier next Saturday. There are of course plenty of produce farmers, jewelry makers, planted pots venders, much more there, but I personally adore the fact that there are so many gluten-free finds. I just wish it lasted all year-long, but I guess that just makes it all the more special. Now if only I could wake up and get going on Saturdays earlier to fully take advantage of it…Hm, maybe by August I’ll get that part down. At least I managed to get flowers last week. They are lovely.
This is the worst part when I accidentally ingest gluten and absolutely the hardest thing to explain to people who don’t have a gluten issue~ the ‘brain fog’. This article adds to growing research into an often cited but hard to study complaint of brain fog in celiacs and those gluten intolerant. They liken the brain fog to a .05 blood alcohol level, which is an interesting attempt to try to wrap some definition around something as hard to grasp as ‘fog’ but I would classify it as that feeling when you are getting sick and feverish and your brain just feels like it needs a nap before computing, but maybe that’s because gluten makes me tired, oh so tired, and so all I think about are naps. Probably everyone experiences it a bit differently, but it certainly points to early detection being more and more important if we want our children to have the best experience as possible in school. The article notes that they are still not sure why that happens since one theory was a lack of micronutrients making it to the brain when the digestive system is impaired, but that did not in fact seem to be the case. Another theory has to do with the gut bacteria, always super important when talking about brain health, but it could also be the gluten itself. Whatever it is, I’m just glad enough people have cited the issued that it’s being studied.
Part of the reason I haven’t written much lately has to do with a trip to see my family in Louisville, KY, which turned out to be a very easy place to visit with multiple food intolerances in our crew. The other reason is the sheer craziness of summer with two high-energy boys~ it takes some time to adjust from school year days to summer days and honestly, I’m still adjusting. But, here’s what you will find in Louisville if you head that way (maybe in May…?) It is the Derby City after all.
Annie May’s Sweet Café is a gluten and nut free place that also has a large selection of vegan items. We went there for lunch and immediately regretted having not gone earlier in the trip. My son thought their vegan cream of broccoli soup was ‘epic’ and three of us got sandwiches we very much enjoyed and I was the only one of the three who is even gluten intolerant. The desserts we ate were delicious~ mostly cookies with cream in the middle, some vegan and some not depending on the person. My sons and I had the vegan kind which were dipped in chocolate too and probably the most decadent thing I’ve had in years. I don’t know what the vegan cream was in the middle but it definitely tasted like the real thing and I did not ask because if I knew how to make those things I might never leave my kitchen again.
Just down the road is Bluegrass Burgers which advertises on its sign outside, “Gluten free buns and beers” but it isn’t just buns and beers actually because I asked about the veggie patty and the black bean patty (they have both!) and those were also gluten-free and vegan. They were nice and patient about my questions, something that can be hard to find at restaurants where the going trend is to hate on people with food intolerances. They were extremely friendly and their food was great but there is one warning, their fries are way too good. Seriously, if you don’t want to eat a ton of them, just say no because once you start it’s all over~ they are seasoned to perfection and more addictive than chocolate covered cashews. Highly recommend this place. (And chocolate covered cashews for that matter.)
And of course there’s pizza. There are several places that have gluten-free options, but we chose Blaze Pizza because they have vegan cheese, all the pizza pies are individual size, and they cook them quickly in a wood fire so there (theoretically) isn’t much wait time. I was impressed that when I ordered the gluten-free crusts and vegan cheeses that they asked me if they needed to change gloves when handling those pizzas. They knew what they were doing when it came to allergies and I felt quite safe feeding their food to my kids and eating it myself. We liked the taste but it kind of reminded me of Chuck E. Cheese pizza, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, something about it was just similar…the thinner crust, snappier cheese, slightly sweet tomato sauce. But if that isn’t to your taste, there are plenty of other pizza places that have gluten-free crust options, such as Mellow Mushroom,Impellizzeris, Puccini’s, Uncle Maddio’s, and Cottage Inn Pizza, so basically wherever you are in Louisville you are never far from gluten-free crust.
Something else you are never far from in Louisville are natural foods stores, so in a pinch you can always find allergy free food at Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market, or shop local and visit Rainbow Blossom at one of their five locations.
A surprising amount of allergy-friendly food can be found at the most unusual place of all, and I say that mostly because the town’s name is Santa Claus but also because the amusement park there, Holiday World, is, well, an amusement park (and water park) which generally aren’t hubs of allergy free dining.
This place is about 70 miles from Louisville and well worth the trip if you are traveling with kids or just like rides, water parks, and Christmas music in July. Just check out this list of allergy-free foods that you can get there and you’ll be adding Santa Claus, Indiana to your must-do list. The only thing I caution is to have the list handy with you before you go in to order because the people behind the counter weren’t always up-to-date on the offerings. There seemed to be one person in charge who handled the allergic folks and the rest of them waved her down to deal with us. That was fine with me, as long as there was one person dedicated to keeping us safe I was thoroughly impressed. We also had to wait extra time for the allergy free food so another caution is to go before your four-year old is in low-sugar-sunburnt-over-tired-and-hungry-tantrum-mode, but really it wasn’t too long of a wait, 15 minutes maybe. Of course 15 minutes with a hungry child is a lot longer than 15 minutes with just yourself to worry about, so you’ve been forewarned. But both my sons said the place was better than Disney Land, so check it out.
I’m sure there are plenty of other restaurants that accommodate gluten intolerant people but I just want to highlight one more because their menu is very clear with calling out gluten-free items, along with vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and whatever other kind of ~ian you want to call yourself, they’ve heard it all before. Ramsi’s Café will fill your worldly cravings when you’ve tried all the gluten-free pizza (impossible!) and eaten all the burgers on gluten-free buns that you can handle. Kids are welcome but if you are going to leave them behind for an evening out with your significant other, this is the place to go. When you are finished with dinner be sure to walk up and down Bardstown Road for some fun shopping and people watching, or grab a movie at the nearby Baxter Avenue Theaters. Enjoy!