Monday, August 15, 2011

A Few Cool Blogs and More to Gluten Free Diet Than Just Eliminating Gluten

This week I found a couple of cool new sites that motivated me mentally, nutritionally, and physically:

I learned about Mission Possible with Jenna Phillips on a podcast with Jimmy Moore of Livin' La Vida Low Carb.  Jenna has a wonderfully optimistic view of being lucky.  As a high school student she suffered a major accident that left her in a coma with head injuries and was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Read her biography here.  I think that reading stories of success, whether with RA or not, is exactly what I need to hear.

Also on a podcast of Livin' La Vida Low Carb, I learned about the blog of Cate's Nutrition Kitchen.  This gal is full of energy and fun.  Check out her blog for tons of nutrition advice.

What I liked most about each of these blogs is that these young women listened to and respected their bodies enough to make changes that helped them to not only survive, but to nourish their entire beings.  This is what probably most draws me to the paleo lifestyle in general.  Whole Foods are considered one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle but so are being environmentally conscious, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, allowing time in your life to play, spending time with family, relaxing, and finding your passions.  It is everything wrapped up into one beautiful complete package.

Now for a rant on gluten free diets. Early last week I woke up with a text message that said, "Nightline on TV now talking about safety of gluten free diets.  Long term loss of Vitamin B and calcium."  Immediately I was frustrated, not with the text sender, but with what I expected to find on the show's segment.  It was pretty much as I expected.

The show portrayed switching to a gluten free diet as a fad that is not necessarily helpful and might even be harmful.  They mentioned losing out on certain vitamins and minerals by switching to a gluten free diet because one was no longer receiving the benefits of fortified foods.  Hmmm.....why do I need fortified foods when there are tons of whole real foods that provide those for me?

What you will find in following a paleo lifesytle and the blogs of the above mentioned women is that to be truly healthy and environmentally conscious, we can't switch from a standard American diet of sugar and processed foods and assume a "gluten free" diet of sugar and processed foods is going to magically make us healthier.  In fact, this assumption makes me very frustrated as does all the easily accessible "gluten free" processed foods that are now available and thought of as "healthy".  When I eat an occasionally gluten free pizza from our local pizza place, I have no delusions that I am choosing to eat junk food that night. "Gluten free" doesn't make it healthy although hoosing a gluten free pizza over a regular gluten pizza does for me make the consequences of eating junk food less severe, but it is still junk food.

For many of us who have chosen to eliminate gluten from our diets, we have done so very consciously.  Removing gluten has only been a small part of the changes we have made.  We have removed gluten as well as all the processed foods that it is in and instead replaced it with real whole foods like tons of organic veggies,good fats, grassfed meat, and free range eggs.  We make almost all of our own meals so that we can ensure that our food is nourishing us rather than robbing us of energy and nutrients. There a quite a few of us out here who are not going to our local Whole Foods, as shown in the Nightline segments, and filling our basket with processed gluten free cookies, pasta, cereals, breads, and cakes.  Instead we are filling our grocery carts full of a variety of veggies (if they haven't been purchased from a CSA or a farmer's market), coconut oil, avocados, meats, teas, and other foods that nourish us and will make fantastic tasting meals.

There are of course many "gluten free" folks who have moved from one terrible diet to another terrible diet only "gluten free" style. That doesn't represent all of us who have gone "gluten free" and I felt frustrated that a gluten free diet was only presented as a junk food diet when a lot of us are spending quality and quantity time in our kitchens making meals and out meeting our local farmers to ensure that all of our nutritional needs are met through real foods rather than through fortification, vitamins or other processed means.  Seeing a "gluten free" diet portrayed as another fad diet that is basically a diet full of processed food is an insult to many of us who have overhauled our entire way of thinking about food.