Tag Archives: gluten-free choices

Gluten Free Musings

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Set up at The Gluten Free Garage

This past weekend I attended the Gluten Free Garage in Toronto organized by Ronnilyn Pustil.  This dynamic lady sure knows how to do an event right and for the right reasons.  It was a fantastic event to showcase local companies from around Toronto. It was also a nice intimate venue that enabled not only the attendees but the vendors to get around and visit all the booths.  As I made my way around to each vendor I was so happy to see the number of companies that were there because they had a personal story about the effects of gluten and they were also providing a much healthier product.

There were also a few companies that had products that were naturally gluten free.  All of these naturally GF products were actually very healthy.  There was a tea company called The Honest Leaf, that had a line of tea blends that specifically support various systems in the body.  A vegan raw line of very healthy salad dressings (yes some salad dressings do have gluten) called Raw FoodzKe-Wa-Za a line of raw, all natural snacks that gives you energy.  The Mad Mexican with gourmet Mexican food from premium, fresh and local ingredients with the bold flavours of Mexico.

Those were just a few of the fabulous products I found.  For more check out The Gluten Free Garage 

Now why am I musing about this.  Way back when I went Gluten Free there were not a lot of choices.  The last 5 years there have been more and more companies jumping on the GF food train.  On one hand I think it is great for us GF Foodies. We have more choices but really how healthy are these choices?  Yes you can buy GF Betty Crocker mixes but they are full of crap I just don’t want to put in my body.  If you do that is cool, we all make choices that meet our needs.

Here is the problem.  If we are healthy individuals with nothing wrong (thinking of my junk food eating teenagers here) you can get away with eating the crappy food without much immediate impact.  If you are Celiac or like me Non-Celiac gluten intolerant then the effects of the crappy food can be felt fairly quickly.  This is not always GI related.  Low energy, achy joints, headaches, skin problems, depression, muscle pain, insomnia etc. can be felt because of a crappy diet.  So many times I hear Celiacs tell me, “I stopped eating gluten but I still feel like crap”.  The old saying “you are what you eat” isn’t just a cute, catchy phrase.

Trust me I am not perfect when it comes to my diet.  I get into ruts when I just don’t care (there is a therapy session in that statement) but I also know how I am going to feel because of it, the one thing I am not is oblivious or in denial about how my diet correlates to how I am feeling.

As a group who eats gluten free because of a medical need NOT a fashionable, trendy way to eat we need to start paying attention to what we eat and the companies providing us with these foods.  The small companies I discovered at the show this past weekend are concerned with your health and have put their blood, sweat and tears into their business because they are concerned.  Trust me creating a healthy product, throwing your life savings into it and working harder than you could ever imagine is not easy.  But like me the owners of these companies had a vision of changing the way we eat and providing a healthy option to the mass produced chemical laden food on the market.

Will Betty Crocker ever go under?  Probably not but every day small mom and pop companies that bring us healthier options go under because they just can’t compete with the big guys.  Think Walmart vs the small family run stores that have gone out of business once Walmart moves in.

So what am I trying to say?  When you can, support these smaller companies whose ingredient list you can pronounce and get through without a chemical engineering degree.  Recognize that the reason their products are more expensive than the mass produced stuff is not because they are greedy and just want to make money.  It is because the natural healthy food ingredients are more expensive.  It  is because they can’t order large quantities of  packaging  and get a price break. It is because they manufacture on a small scale and pay a premium price  because if it. But what they offer is a product that is healthy and convenient for you, that was created with you in mind. It was created to solve a problem they recognized in the food market and then bring that solution to you. I thank these small companies everyday because they provide me with amazing products.

Every purchase I made from these companies this past weekend made me happy because I knew I was buying from an entrepreneur that had the same vision I did 4 years ago. 


Canada’a Gluten-Free Market: So Many Choices!

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 6.48.42 AM 15 years ago I went gluten free. I had been feeling very bloated after eating, my stomach was distended, my joints ached and I had never ending diarrhea.  A naturopath I worked with suggested I stop eating gluten.  I had no idea what gluten was but I would have tried just about anything.  Within a week I was feeling good, no more bloating, stomach had flattened out, after a month, the joint pain was gone and no more diarrhea.  Over the years it has been suggested I be tested for Celiac disease but the problem is you have to eat gluten for 6 weeks to 3 month (depending on which doctor you talk to).  I am not willing to subject myself to that kind of pain so I will continue being ‘gluten intolerant’.

So I am feeling good but what the heck was there to eat?  I basically cut out most carbs from my diet and ate rice cakes if I wanted a sandwich.  Rice cakes DO NOT substitute bread.  15 years ago there was no such thing as the ‘gluten free’ aisle at the grocery store.  Rice cakes came everywhere with me; back then I travelled a lot for work so they became my go to snack.  Fast forward 15 years and I cannot even stand the smell of rice cakes!

To even dream of a trade show that was all about everything gluten free was not even in the realm of possibilities.  This past weekend we did the Canadian Celiac Association Gluten Free market place trade show.  The turnout was incredible!  It seems each show gets bigger and bigger.  Last fall we did the first ever Gluten Free Expo in Toronto; wall to wall people from opening to close, it was crazy busy all day.  January was the GF Expo in Vancouver which saw people standing in line for over 3 hours to get in.  It opened at 10am and by 5pm when it closed I had realised did not even have time to go to the bathroom all day!  This weekend was pretty much the same thing.  By 11am I had run out of samples and was off to the kitchen to bake some more.  I returned at 12:30 with 400 more samples and they were gone by 4pm.  I was so exhausted when I got home but it made me smile because for those newly diagnosed they really have a tremendous selection of products they can choose from.  You could try a new thing every day and never have to eat a rice cake!

I always smile when talking to newly diagnosed folks, “I have no idea what I am going to eat!” is generally one of the first things they talk about.  Hmmm try going gluten free 15 years ago!  Today it is more like “it is completely overwhelming the choices I have!”.  Part of me is glad, part of me is sad.  Glad because of the choices we have, sad because a lot of the choices are very unhealthy and sad because something very wrong is going on with our food chain.

When my grandpa was a boy, wheat was a staple of his diet.  My grandparents were poor, bread could be made cheap and last over a few days. No one heard of gluten issues.  Today it is rare if you don’t know someone with a problem with gluten.  So one hand we  can rejoice in all the choices but on the other hand we should all be terribly alarmed as to why so many of us can’t eat gluten…that my friends is another blog!