Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Another not GLUTEN FREE enough for me tale ...

So it has been another frustrating week for me on navigating the ability to manage my dietary restrictions while striving for 'better health and wellness' and still getting gluten into my diet! 

So Health Canada came along in 2014 with their new 'food labeling laws' that are suppose to PROTECT those of us with food allergies from being exposed by hidden ingredients in processed foods and so forth. They have increased their rules to require any 'hidden' ingredients as part of a processing to not be any of the 'allergen concerning' ones so if something says 'spices' and it has a nut/wheat/egg/dairy/etc in the spice mix they now have to disclose that. These new standards should make Canadians feel safer about managing their food allergies - right?  Things should be getting better for eating out and making safe choices in products sold to me in the stores?

HOWEVER, at least in my own experience, I am finding this to be anything but true! It feels harder TODAY than it did 10 years ago when I was first diagnosed!

Everywhere I look more and more foods are being labelled and marketed to us as 'gluten free' and stupidly I trust this term cause the government has 'laws' to protect the consumer!  However the more I investigate these laws as well as the companies ingredients and manufacturing practices the more I realize that while they might pass FDA and Health Canada requirements they are still NOT gluten free ENOUGH for me, who as a Celiac is one of those few who by experience has to have NO gluten in my diet, not just 'limited to less than 20 parts gluten', in order to experience what it is like to have any semblance of HEALTH in my life!  

So I cannot trust the government but surely I can trust the Celiac community to provide me with SAFE labeling and information?

Well turns out the Celiac community has 3 different organizations that will offer companies 'certified gluten free' status but when you look into what that MEANS you find out that ALL of them still allow SOME gluten to be in the product and still get this 'certified gluten free label' so depending on your own sensitivity we cannot even trust this 'certified gluten free' labels!

For those with actual 'gluten allergies / sensitivities' the challenge lies in the way 'gluten free' is DEFINED in Canada, United States and many other countries. Because unlike the 'nut free' claims where a product cannot have even come in contact or been grown NEAR nuts or looked like a nut and so forth to be 'banned' anywhere a person with a nut allergy might come in contact with it the definition of 'gluten free' in many countries actually allows for foods that contain gluten, are grown and processed with gluten and so forth to stil BE labelled gluten free as long as random testing shows it is 'less than 20 parts per million! This just boggles my mind how this is being promoted by government officials to be SAFE! But than again these are the same government officials who allow drugs to be approved to give your a longer erection or more energy and what that have serious side effects listed including 'death' as a warning with them but lord forbid someone claims that soaking their foot in 'lemon oil' helped to cure their athletes foot because that is not an approved claim!

So it is no surprise that the many in the Celiac community who actually SUFFER with Celiac verses just being 'researchers' of the disease are not impressed with this 'definition' because it actual contradicts other actual  research on the effects of 'any gluten' on a Celiac including the FDA's OWN risk assessment research paper? From what I have read it appears they've basically chosen a HIGHER amount of gluten being allowed to be present during manufacturing because it is the threshold that they can easily test for in a quick manner verses the amount that is SAFE for a Celiac, depending on the severity of their disease, to consume without adverse health reactions and therefore is not considered a 'risk'???

Which brings me to my most recent frustration is with the claims on that Wheat, Barley and Oat grasses are 'gluten free' and therefore safe for consumption in a gluten free Celiac diet ... and HIDING in many of our vitamins and other supplements because they are considered 'gluten free' and therefore do not need to be disclosed in their proprietary blend but still marketed as gluten free???? 

I have recently signed up to do a 30 Day Detox and one of the items required to help with the Detox were 'greens' that needed to be purchased 'online' so because reading labels on tiny little images online can be a challenge and I could not find the PDF with the ingredients (should have been my first clue) I called the manufacturer and asked 'Was trying to read the label online and having a hard time and just wanted to check are your Greens fully Gluten Free' and was told OF YES mame ALL of our health care products are gluten free. So I placed the order and waited for my item to arrive! Typical of our shipping here it takes a while and I have already started the rest of the detox protocol without the 'greens' so when it finally comes I am so excited to get going on this Detox I stupidly just toss it into my smoothie and go on about my morning. About an hour later I feel like CRAP ~ sorry for the TMI but literally I am feeling like CRAP! Having a total auto immune response including my skin is on fire and I want to crawl out of it!

So as always when that happens I look at 'what did I eat or touch today' so I can journal and compare to help me figure just what I am not coping with or combos of foods I am not coping with ... so first place I go is to have a look a closer look at my new 'gluten free greens' I had last and flip back the ingredient list and low and behold it says 'WHEAT / BARLEY / OAT GRASS" and I am sitting here having spent a lot of money on what I was promised on the phone, after having said I was a Celiac, was a gluten free item and thinking what the hell how can something with WHEAT, OAT AND BARELY in the name be marketed as 'gluten free'?

OK so for those who do not understand ~ t
he FDA and other governing bodies liken wheat grass to a vegetable instead of a grain because the plant has yet to produce a seed, which would then allow the plant to be considered a grain. Findings from USDA research notes, “Gluten is found only in the seed kernel (endosperm) and not in the stem and grass leaves.” Which is why it can contain the 'gluten free' label under USDA and Health Canada standards because it is the 'grass' being processed.

Sorry I am not a scientist or a researcher or even a really great 'gardener'. However I come from over 25 years of 'growing children' and I have a garden I do my best to tend and in my experience whether being a plant or a child they all MATURE differently even though they may be been planted all at the same time .... so how can you be 100% SURE that the some of the 'grass' in your product did not 'seed' before being plucked???

Answer from manufacturers "Oh well we cannot ~ but even if we missed some it would have less than the allowable amount so it is still safe' .... oh gee thanks for that diddy makes me feel REAL safe!

So my advice to those who SELL these types of products ~ be HONEST with your customers! Labeling or marketing your wares as 'gluten free' when they are NOT might get the 'non Celiac' who has been led to believe gluten is evil to buy your product but for those of us who ARE Celiac and our health relies on sourcing actual gluten free products all you are succeeding in doing is making us leave your market place entirely ... we are giving up gluten free as a trusted source of healing or treatment of our disease and opting for no grains at all, no processed foods at all, growing and making our own food, beauty and cleaning supplies ... and if the statistics are to be believed we represent ONE in THREE people so over a 30% of the market share!

My advice for those who are looking to avoid gluten because of a true allergen or intolerance that negatively affects your health .... get your VITAMINS and GREENS from clean natural sources! FRESH fruits and vegetables have just as many and in some cases MORE nutrients than these so called 'power greens' being marketed to us to give us better health and wellness! 

If you need help ensuring you are getting enough 'vitamins' in your diet journal your food with an app that actually tracks that! I am a lover of My Fitness Pal but there are lots of options on the market research which one will work for your lifestyle!

Have an amazing day!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much


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