I just wanted to very quickly mention that Allergic Girl’s book, Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies is out. When I was starting this blog, she was kind enough to give me a boost, and has always been an interesting read. You can check out her blog here.
We were notified that Dr. Oz was doing a segment on gluten free diets on his TV show today. Naturally, we had to tune in. Here’s the executive summary: If you’re sensitive to gluten, then you should probably stop eating it. 99% of the people who are gluten intolerant still don’t know it. However, the gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily healthy, and is not a good way to lose weight.
For the curious, you can watch the episode online here on the Dr. Oz website.
I wasn’t actually aware that anybody was touting the gluten-free diet as being great for weight loss. So that was news to me. On the show they did some product comparisons, and the basic gist of the matter was that gluten free versions of many popular foods are more caloric and contain less fiber. Of course, we ARE talking about a TV show here, so they might have just picked out the most egregious offenders, because that makes for good TV. At the same time, we’ve spent some words on this blog talking about gluten free products and health. Mostly it’s been me complaining about how most all gluten free breads are made of starch and rice flour.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure that I’ll say it again. If I could eat wheat, I would. First off, there are some items that you can’t get gluten free. Like a good brioche, a divine sourdough, or good bagels. Second, there is a reason wheat has been cultivated and eaten by mankind for all time: It’s good for you. Whole wheat is high in protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins. It’s an aid to digestion, and has countless culinary uses.
The segment on Dr. Oz struck me as having a dual personality. On one hand, Dr. Oz kept talking about how gluten does cause inflammatory problems in people who are sensitive to it. He even went so far as to recommend that people who have inflammatory symptoms try a two week elimination diet to see if they might have a sensitivity. But then he kept bashing the diet as being unhealthy and fattening.
It was interesting to hear the list of health problems associated with gluten sensitivity. Among the items I heard mentioned were fatigue, inflammation, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, and even heart disease and cancer. Also, they mentioned that the inflammation caused by gluten can increase the insulin in your body, which can lead to weight problems, among other things.
In the end, I did appreciate the show, although I thought that it sensationalized the subject matter in a way that may not have been very productive. It is a bit of a double-edged sword. I wouldn’t recommend a gluten-free diet to anybody who doesn’t need to be on it. BUT, for those of us who do, it’s truly life-changing. AND, just because something is gluten free, it doesn’t mean that it’s not junk food.
Reader Claudette wrote us with this situation (some details have been generalized – the editor):
I will be visiting Portland for the annual meeting of an organization I belong to. The meeting is being held at the Oregon State Convention Center (700NE block of MLK Drive) and I am trying to figure out how/where I am going to eat. I was just diagnosed with celiac not long ago, and this is my first travel experience since I was diagnosed. Furthermore I am responsible for planning a networking dinner for a group of about 30-40 people while there and I would like to be able to eat something with them. Would you or others who subscribe to your blog/online community have any suggestions for me? Nearly all of us will be staying somewhere between the LLoyd Center Mall and the Oregon State Conference Center, so it either needs to be in the area above mentioned, or easily accessible by MAX rail.
Here’s our answer.
Traveling is always tricky. I would suggest packing some cookies and/or bread. I did that during our trip to Italy and it came in handy. A person can also always go to a burger joint and ask for what I call “the Atkin’s Special,” which is a burger sans bun. There are a lot of places in Portland to get gluten-free food. Have you checked out our restaurant map? We also have a restaurant list.
For your dinner, I’m a bit stumped. For a group that size, you might try the Portland City Grill. The Portland City Grill isn’t on our restaurant list because they don’t have gluten-free items marked on the menu. So you’ll probably need to call ahead and also have a conversation with your server about what is safe and what isn’t. It’s been my experience that their staff is very helpful and knowledgeable about food allergies. I would also recommend contacting Abby’s Table. I don’t know if they do events like yours, but they’re in the neighborhood, have good food, and are gluten-free. Last, I would think either Deschutes Brewery or P.F. Chang’s might be a good choice. Good luck on your trip!
Does anybody have further suggestions? Let us know in the comments!!!