Gluten-free article in the NYT v. cooking out of the box

There’s an article in the NYT last night/this morning that’s called “Should We All Go Gluten-Free?”  For the most part, I don’t care for the fact that it ends up being a bit of a puff piece for General Mills (although at least they’re an American company? Yay?) and their efforts to make their food healthy for the GF market.  I could be cynical and say they’re just trying to capitalize on a segment that’s previously been used to buying products previously served only by smaller U.S. organic and natural foods producers (though I’m not sure if Bob’s Red Mill counts as “small” anymore, as much as I love them) and expensive foreign brands like Schar and the excellent Bionaturae, but I’ll resist the urge for the moment because I really like the way that Rice Chex are so easy to use, ground up, as a bread crumb substitute when I want to bake/coat/fry something.

One thing that did surprise me were the epidemiology stats.  1 in 122.  Wow.  That’s a lot of people sensitive to/allergic to gluten, overall.  But in the same week that the NYT printed an article about canned soups harboring high levels of BPA, an article touting Progresso soups as gluten-free saviors for those suffering from some level of Celiac or wheat sensitivity just seems … journalistically squicky as well as just informationally incomplete.

For me, and what the article doesn’t say even as they cite this athlete who eats GF but then don’t even talk about what the guy eats as the mainstays of his diet (I bet you $20.00 it’s not General Mills), the thing about eating gluten-free comes down to what Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan have been saying, though I discovered it before they came out with their mantra and before the gluten-free thing really took off.  (I walked uphill, both ways, barefoot, through snow, rah, kids on my lawn, etc.)  It’s not about substituting wheat with other starches in order to get healthy, lose weight, get control over your body again.  It’s about cutting carbs and sugar, cutting out processed foods, learning how to cook proteins, fats, dairy, fruits and vegetables from scratch, and learning how your body responds to all the different additives that are out there.  It’s not about Pillsbury cake mix.

In other words, Eat Real Food, Made (Mostly) From Scratch, Mostly Plants.  It’s the only real way to get control over and understand what your body is doing and how to get control over it again if you get sick.

I do bake gluten-free on occasion, and I eat sugar and honey and corn syrup and molasses and butter when I do those things.  Sometimes, I bake with wheat, too.  I do cheat and eat gluten-y things.  If I do that, I feel sick, and I gain weight or lose weight and feel like crap.  There is a result–but I understand why.  Eating packaged foods?  Yes, there are times when it’s needed, when you don’t have time, when the GF packaged option is a life saver.

But first?

Learn how to feed your beautiful, sensitive body. And that won’t come out of a box.


5 thoughts on “Gluten-free article in the NYT v. cooking out of the box

  1. She Curmudgeon

    Jenn– you are right, that it’s hard. And it’s especially hard if you were raised to learn to cook using canned/boxed mixes to start with, and so breaking things down into the component/scratch steps is even more work.

    I do use some packaged products regularly– but only after careful label reading. I used canned tomatoes, jarred pasta sauce, canned beans, rice (lots and lots and lots of rice) and then there’s Trader Joe’s, OH TRADER JOE’S, the land of Celiac Wonder, where half the packaged convenience foods are gluten-free to begin with and a gal can have a microwave dinner without worrying about additives. Whole Foods’ 365 line is not too pricey, either, but– for the most part, hydrolyzed wheat protein/starch still appears in so many things that it doesn’t need to, and really– it takes 5 minutes longer to season and make my own rice pilaf v. one out of a box on a day when I have a white starch instead of a salad for supper (or quinoa or wild rice or sweet potatoes or roasted beets or carrots or some other colorful veggie as a side to my animal protein, since I am trending more and more Paleo these days.)

    I can’t tell you how sad– and how sick– I was the last time I snarfed a whole tube of Sour Cream & Onion Pringles and three hours later– oh. The distress, because I didn’t read the label until much, much too late. Wheat protein to make the flavors stick? Really? On “potato chips?” Wow. I mean, I knew they were hyper-processed, but that took the (gluten-full) cake.

  2. CTJen

    I’ve been doing gluten free (and diary free) for about 2 years now. As hard as it is at the beginning, it really has gotten easier as time goes on. And I feel so much better, so it’s worth it to me to stick to it. My sister can tolerate small amounts of gluten and so will have some every now and then. What she finds though, is that indulging once in a while in the gluten-full foods makes it harder to stay off of them when she needs to.

  3. CTJen

    And now that I’ve read the article, I must say that I find it really surprising and weird, really, that the gluten-free people at the marketing meeting never thought to make a casserole with their own home made white sauce.


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