I have two stories for you today. Both relate to gluten free diets, but apply to anyone who has any kind of food sensitivity or chronic illness. Actually, this information applies to us all, especially to families with young children.
Here’s the first true story:
Last year, I attended a meeting of a celiac nonprofit group because I was considering starting a similar group in my area. This one has a lot of members. There were hundreds at this particular meeting, and there was a featured speaker.
I was sitting at a table with about 10 other people. At the time, I wasn’t certified as a health coach; but being immersed in gluten/grain free nutritional theories, and having helped my daughter to heal from Crohn’s disease, I had a lot of information that could help people. I was there for observational purposes only, though. So, I just sat back and took in all that was around me.
People at the table starting talking about their struggles. One said she didn’t feel any better than before she went gluten free. Another one asked if she should still have a hard stomach “lump.” I thought it was nice that they could bounce problems off of each other like this, but disturbing that they all thought all they had to do was to remove gluten from their diets to feel better.
They’d managed to find the gluten free snack table, but didn’t see it for what it was: a huge elephant in the room.
It wasn’t their fault: it’s probably what they’d been told by their doctors. Avoid gluten at all costs!!!! Focus so much on it that you don’t notice all of the other junk that’s on the food label!
It doesn’t matter what kind of food sensitivity you have, it’s a very common misconception that all you have to do is avoid the allergen in question. Our health care system loves to identify one missing piece of a patient’s health care puzzle and call it a day, without first sorting through the pieces and putting them all together.
It’s only a chosen few who decide to connect the dots on their own, by digging a little deeper for answers. Having a graduate degree in education, I’m guessing our school system has something to do with that.
As a parent of a teenager who has been living with a severe food allergy since before she was even a year old, and who developed a severe gluten intolerance years later (it took years to diagnose), I can tell you that any type of food sensitivity is a sign that your immune system has been compromised. Being that over 70% of it is actually located in your digestive tract, the fewer toxins you eat, the more of a chance you give your body to heal.
So, if you’re eating the gluten/food allergen free version of the same old processed foods, your body is never going to stop sending you warning signs that something is wrong.
There are many parallels between autoimmune diseases, like celiac, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, learning/behavioral disorders such as autism and ADHD, and food allergies and intolerances. Medical doctors often don’t see that food is the place where all of these chronic conditions intersect. The few who do can put you on the right track, if you’re lucky enough to find one who has the right nutritional knowledge, which is quite rare.
So, it’s best to take matters into your own hands. It’s your body. It’s your life.
It’s your wake up call, and your one true chance of working toward a healthier lifestyle. Will you answer it, or do what many others choose to do – roll over and go back to sleep? If you’re reading this right now, then you’ve heard the wake up call and are ready to take action. Or, perhaps you already have, but have somehow gotten stuck along the way. With so much misinformation out there, it can happen to any one of us. Years ago, it happened to me.
I just had to get that off my chest because the health care, food, and pharmaceutical industries are such a mess. As an accountant, I feel strongly that what these three industries are doing to our country is worse than the financial crisis (and contributing to it in a big way). The problem is, people just don’t see the elephant in the grocery store, hospital room, and pharmacy. Heck, it’s in each and every one of our homes, in the form of TV ads!
And still, so many aren’t willing or able to see it. Being that you do, does it frustrate you as much as it does me?
So, now for the treasure in the junk yard.
A couple of weeks ago I visited a specialty gluten free store that seemed to be gaining popularity. I was anxious to see what they were offering, and was really hoping the products were not just your typical, food additive and chemical laden, high glycemic junk.
I was looking for a treasure, but going through the aisles, all I found was junk! Junk, junk, JUNK!!! Most convenience foods that come in boxes, bags, and cans (even the ones in the freezer section) don’t resemble real food at all. These were no different, even though this particular store was catering to immune compromised people.
The owner was nice and very knowledgeable about his products, but I can tell that he didn’t have the slightest clue that what he was selling were foods that harm, not ones that heal.
He meant well, I know. Anyone who tries to make life a little easier for those with food restrictions has good intentions. Unfortunately, this person is a perfect example of someone who’s been led astray by the food and health care industries. Someday, he might realize that’s the case. I hope so.
All this was going through my head as I picked up products and read the food labels. The more I read, the more disgusted I became.
Then, in this gluten free junk yard, I found the treasure I was looking for!!!! A packaged food that had only 2 real ingredients: coconut meat and coconut water! Both organic. It was called a Paleo Wrap, and it was made by Julian Bakery. I’d never tried their products before, and can’t vouch for them, but when I tried this one, it tasted really good! And it’s great to be able to use something other than lettuce as a wrap.
I fill it with another treasure that I found at Whole Foods (yes, junk food can be found there too): Applegate organic, grass fed roast beef. Add some lettuce, and you have a quick, easy meal or snack.
So, here’s the lesson I learned: some of the best treasures can be found in the junk yard, but only if you take time out to look. I sent a message, loud and clear, to that store owner that the only product I found acceptable was the Paleo wrap I walked out with. Hopefully, he will take my hint and seek out other treasures to stock on his shelves in the future.
The Paleo wrap planted seeds of hope in my mind. There are farmers and manufacturers who really are going to great lengths to make a difference in the world and move it beyond the status quo. It’s up to us as consumers (and store owners!) to support them in any way we can.
I can’t control what other people buy, but I can – and have – made the healthiest choices possible for my own family. I do write this blog, and live the cleanest, greenest life I possibly can. I like to share my knowledge and experience with others, when they’re open to it, but I won’t be doing so through an affiliation with any not-for-profit organization that promotes unhealthy, “free from” foods (and many of them do).
I don’t buy many processed foods anymore, and my kitchen cabinets are quite empty. I’m going to need another refrigerator soon because the one I have is too full! I don’t feel deprived at all, because fresh food tastes better than any processed food ever will, if you awaken your taste buds to the possibilities.
Even still, I will never stop looking for treasures in the junk yard. The kind that are not just “free from” common food allergens, but free of food additives, preservatives, colorings, chemicals, pesticides, refined flours, and other toxins. If you want to know how to tell the difference within a few seconds of reading a food label, feel free to download my free report, Detox your Diet in 3 Simple Steps.
Your informed choice is your voice, and your best chance at living a healthy and happy lifestyle. May real food set your health free!
Please note that this post has been shared with the Natural Living Monday, Allergy Free Wednesdays, Gluten Free Wednesdays, Real Food Wednesdays, Party Wave Wednesday and Gluten Free Tuesdays blog carnivals.