October G-Free Newsletter

Halloween toys as treats
Halloween toy treats

Halloween candy lists are out for 2019. As many of you know, sometimes candies that are normally GF are not gluten-free when they are in holiday shapes. But those of you who have been reading for a while know my feelings on Halloween candy—skip it, and go for toys! It’s more inclusive, and you’re less likely to eat the leftovers.

HuffPo has a GF bread roundup. Is your favorite there? Maybe your new favorite will be.

ghost-shaped meringues
Spooky Meringues

Looking for a fun recipe? Spooky meringues are a staple around here. Meringues are a regular here because they’re simple…. And I appreciate that they are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, low FODMAP, gastroparesis friendly, GERD friendly…and delicious! The recipe is here for the bunnies, just draw a squiggle instead of a bunny. ?

Interesting research

Why get relatives screened for Celiac? Because they’re more likely to have it, even without symptoms. 44.4% had Celiac, 28% with no symptoms.

Isn’t this fascinating–> different probiotics may be able to suppress or even reverse food allergies. Granted, studies are currently only in mice, but it’s still a neat and encouraging concept.

Ah, the new cross-contamination study…I have so many thoughts. First, food anxiety is real. It’s a problem. I see it in clients, and I experience it, too. It’s no fun to get sick when eating out, or with friends. And study after study has shown that people with Celiac often have incomplete healing from intestinal damage. And then there’s a new study showing that it’s safe to be less concerned with casual contact and cross contamination at home. It’s a very small study, and that’s been a major concern. It addresses components (toasters, pasta water, etc.) when the real question is, what would the implication be for a real person over a typical day? The study contradicts all of the major Celiac orgs and what I’ve seen with clients over the years. I’m really curious to see if/when it’s repeated, and I have very mixed feelings. And, of course, if people are getting all the “allowed” contamination at home, what happens when they inevitably go out?

Bottom line:

  1. This is a very small study
  2. The test methods seem to be inadequate (my background isn’t in this arena)
  3. People with Celiac can only tolerate trace amounts of gluten. It’s often easier to control contamination at home than out.
  4. I absolutely agree with study authors in articles saying this study means that people should feel safe traveling without bringing their own pots and pans and utensils with them as they travel. I have rarely encountered clients who do that, and if this study provides peace of mind on that front, great.
  5. As summed up by Dr. Fasano from the Center for Celiac research: interesting, but it’s not enough to change any of the current guidelines at this point.

I look forward to more research on this as it comes out…and will keep you all posted.

And re: food fears, there’s a great post here from Kate Scarlata on food fears.

A new study on the AIP diet shows that it helps IBD (Crohn’s & UC). This is great news! The AIP is a very restrictive diet that removes grains, sugars, nuts, seeds, eggs, nightshade veggies, beans, and more. But…the rates of improvement were about the same as studies that were less restrictive, which is disappointing. It’s possible it helped people who had more severe damage. But the study doesn’t try to separate the effect of unlimited RD support, a health coach and a community focused on stress reduction better sleep, etc. and attributes all the positive changes in quality of life to diet change, which isn’t reasonable.

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive issues, food allergies, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

G-Free On the Go

Cheryl and blueberry plant

August is often a great time for road trips! I’ve been having conversations with clients about dining out gluten free more than usual lately, so I wanted to share some tips:

Cheryl and blueberry plant
Cheryl Harris with her blueberry plant in July 2019

Local NoVA gal Karen runs GlutenfreetravelSite.com, which is a great resource and has an app. Find  Me Gluten Free is also a wonderful resource that also has an app for restaurants. Of course, reviews are only a starting point, you need to ask good questions—unless you’ve gone somewhere that’s dedicated gluten-free. Here’s a list for places from DC to Maine, and another dedicated GF restaurants in the DMV. Of course, these places can only exist if our community supports them!

My favorite question is, how do you make sure that xyz stays gluten free? If the waitstaff has an answer like, oh, we have a process with separate fryers, separate workstations, or that they grill on foil, or use different utensils or a process of whatever kind, I feel somewhat comfortable. They’ve thought through the pitfalls and that’s a big plus.

If I get a blank stare, that tells me that either I need to educate them and talk through each step carefully, or I may want to reconsider eating at that place. It’s just not worth it to get sick.

I also like the dining cards from Triumph dining, which are on Amazon…unfortunately the only have disposable ones now, but they are still helpful tools when out to eat.

What to pack? I have my grab and go list of bars and etc. in addition to naturally GF staples.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Happy G-Free Holidays ’18

I hope you’re having a cozy December! For most of us, the holiday season is a time of a lot of food, and that can be pretty stressful on a gluten-free diet. I was sorry to see a column in the other day in the Washington Post on someone who was angered by the requests of a guest with Celiac. Of course, my first thought was that the guest was making her life and the host’s life much harder, too.  Some people are really motivated to help and others aren’t, but the simpler we can make requests, the safer it is for us, and the easier it is for the host to help out.

For most people, it’s a combination of asking ahead about food, seeing what things can be easily shifted without much difficulty, and bringing along dishes to fill in the gaps—and keeping a protein bar or nuts in your pocket just in case things go south and something doesn’t go as planned.

With all of that in mind, I’ve collected a list of NATURALLY gluten-free desserts—tried and true recipes that aren’t specialty cooking, but just happen to be marvelously, naturally gluten-free.

Remember, these foods are only GF if you use GF ingredients. And as always, check labels to avoid surprises. A surprising number of chocolates may contain traces of gluten, including Lindt, Ghiradelli, Godiva and many of the Trader Joe’s options. I’ve got lists of chocolates listed gluten-free here and here.

This list has a range of options, from allergy-friendly, grain-free, low sugar to completely decadent options. Your call! There are enough options to choose from that you can surely find something that works for your lifestyle/food restrictions that you and your family can enjoy together.

Low FODMAP? I’ve italicized recipes that are FODMAP friendly, and or easy to adapt and I have a longer list of low FODMAP holiday treats here. Remember, portions matter.

Italicized=low fodmap (watch portions) dairy free (DF), egg free (EF) and soy free (SF), NF (nut free) *=check labels

The Washington Post even has a  “Cookie Generator” with a gluten-free option. Of course, you need to make sure the ingredients are be mindful of cross contamination, etc. but this is an easy way to keep traditions without venturing into specialty flours and unfamiliar territory.

My personal favorites? My Bittersweet Chestnut Fudge and my Vegan Pralines.

And for my low FODMAP friends, more recipes here: a round-up of low FODMAP holiday desserts. Just watch the portion sizes.

Oh, right, and there’s holiday food, too. I’ve got a G-Free Turkey and Ham list.
And along those lines, I’ve got some of my  favorite tips for a balanced and delicious holiday season here.

More recipes from around the web:

Wishing you a peaceful & joyful season!

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, digestive issues, food allergies, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.