One of the things I’ve learned since removed grains from my diet in 2011 is that I am gluten intolerant. Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling people. Really what I have is called (self-diagnosed) Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). NCGS means that my blood tests negative for Celiac disease (CD), even though I experience symptoms similar to that of someone with CD when I eat foods that contain gluten. Two years ago I had no idea what NCGS was, all I knew was that when I ate anything that had gluten in it, I got sick. Within 15 minutes of finishing a meal containing gluten, my abdomen becomes very distended and bloated; I look about 3 months pregnant. I also get nauseous and generally don’t feel well. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to remove gluten (and all grains really) from my diet.
I complained to my doctor about my issues with gluten at my last physical. She decided to have me tested for CD even though she thought it would come back negative. If a person is completely gluten-free leading up to the test, the antibodies produced in response to gluten disappear, the intestinal damage heals, and the tests come out negative. (source) I was told that if I wanted to be tested again that I would have to eat gluten containing foods for approximately 6 weeks prior to being retested. This is called a gluten challenge test. So let me get this straight, I tell my doctor that when I have even the slightest bit of gluten that I get sick and she suggests that I voluntarily consume gluten so I can what, get a certificate that says “Congratulations! You have Celiac Disease!” Thanks, but no thanks I’ll pass. Considering that I can go to a restaurant tell them that I am ALLERGIC to gluten (you have to throw around the A word in restaurants if you want them to take you seriously) and still wind up sick, there is no way that I would ever willingly put that devil substance in my body. So I guess I am left with my self-diagnosis of NCGS.
One of the best things that happened to my family since adopting a
paleo whole foods diet is that the amount of processed food we eat has decreased substantially. Sure I buy gluten-free cookies for the kids from time to time and we do have a small collection of “top of the fridge” foods like organic tortilla chips, Pop Corners, and plantain chips. But these are mostly for the kids and they are not eaten every day. We had a leftover bag of Nature’s Promise Natural Vegetable Sticks
from going to my in-law’s house last weekend. I didn’t have enough for dinner one night and found the veggie sticks staring at me. I decided to “splurge” and have some. I probably had about 2 servings. Within 15 minutes I became very bloated and nauseous. I knew the bag wasn’t labeled gluten-free but I read the ingredients prior to eating them and thought they sounded okay. Potato flour (potato flakes, potato starch), sunflower and/or safflower oil, corn starch, tomato puree, spinach powder, salt, sugar, turmeric, beet powder; nothing jumped out at me and screamed gluten. I shrugged it off and just chalked it up to it being processed junk food making me sick. I decided to research the ingredients the next day to see if there was something I overlooked. I went to Stop & Shop’s website and found the product’s information. Here are the ingredients listed on their site: Whole Potato Flour, Expeller Pressed Sunflower, Safflower and/or Soybean Oil, Natural Wheat Starch, Rice Flour, Tomato Puree, Spinach Puree, Sea Salt. Does it jump out at you like it did to me when I read it? Yup, there it is…natural wheat starch. The bag of veggie sticks that I had in my hand said corn starch, not wheat starch. If it said wheat starch I wouldn’t have eaten any. Annoyed by this discrepancy, I decided to call Stop & Shop to tell them what happened. There is a big difference between corn starch and wheat starch as corn starch is extremely useful in gluten-free cooking. (source) I spoke to someone from customer service. She took down all the information on the package I had at my house and my name and phone number and told me that she would have someone call me back with an answer. I called on Thursday and today is Saturday and still no call. I don’t actually think someone will call me back. I’m not really one to trust labels or packaged food and this was my lesson to learn. It didn’t specifically say gluten-free on the package so I shouldn’t have eaten it. But I don’t think it’s right that the ingredients list is different from the real package to what it says online. Based on how quickly I got sick I can only assume that the ingredients list online is the correct one.
From here on out I am sticking to the products that I know don’t make me sick and if a package doesn’t specifically say gluten-free on it, I am not touching it.
Yours in Health,