Ingredients, Not ‘Food’

Checkerboard Egg CartonOnions

When I was in Chicago for my business trip, I was staying with my friend Rita. She was worried about how to feed me safely, since she isn’t gluten free herself, and since I am what many people have told me is “freakishly hypersensitive.” I told her what I’ve heard other people say, “Stick to whole foods.” But what is whole foods? What does that mean? It isn’t Whole Foods, the grocery chain, it means something different, although there is some overlap. You can say the other meme, “Shop the outside edge of the grocery store,” but that is lot riskier and more vague. I tried to explain, but I wasn’t doing such a good job. She figured it out, and when she did she said, “You know, this isn’t that hard!” No, it isn’t, but it is hard to explain.

Farmer's Market - Sept 6, 2008Making Preserved Lemons

After I came back from Chicago, there was a day I was riding back home from sword practice with my friend, Charles. He was telling me a story about when he was young and one of his friend’s came over to hang out and then got hungry. He told his friend to look in the fridge, and his friend complained loudly, “Where’s the food? You don’t have any FOOD in here, all you have is INGREDIENTS!” To which Charles replied, “Ah, but with ingredients, you can MAKE food.”

“AHA!,” I thought, “That is how to explain it!” The idea of “whole foods,” what is my primary foods, what I usually eat, is actually made up of things that many other people don’t even think of as food. That was a revelation and a hard idea to wrap my head around. Kind of like talking different languages.

Pic of the day - Not Cucumbers, Not SquashOkra

While in Chicago, I was fine as long as I was at Rita’s, but I got into trouble that last day of the trip, after I left Rita’s and was traveling home, eating so-called gluten-free food from restaurants. When I was so badly glutened in Chicago, for some odd reason, I just haven’t been able to shake it since I came back. I’ll feel better for a couple hours here or there, but then something else will set me back, and I’ll feel rotten again. It’ll be a month in two days, I’m very tired of this. I’ve been trying all kinds of things, some of which will turn into other blogposts, I hope.

The past few months I read both Grain Brain by Perlmutter and Gluten Freedom by Fasano. I’d hoped to do a quick review of each of them, but to avoid doing that here, let’s simply say I found Grain Brain frustrating and Gluten Freedom fabulous. One of the things mentioned by Dr. Fasano in his book was “The Fasano Diet” for people who are hypersensitive (like me) or seem to have gluten-induced symptoms no matter how careful they are (like me).

2013-07-06 at 10.12.45Farmer's Market - Sept 6, 2008

I was interested in trying it out, but I didn’t find the description in the book terribly helpful. I read a blogpost by someone who is a patient of Dr. Fasano’s and is on the diet to try to get some insight.

The Gluten Contamination Elimination Diet (Summary Of Dr. Fasano’s Recent Paper) http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/blog/1038/entry-1780-the-gluten-contamination-elimination-diet-summary-of-dr-fasanos-recent-paper/

Frankly, this wasn’t much help either, but it did give a citation to the article for the Fasano Diet.

Justin R Hollon, Pamela A Cureton, Margaret L Martin, Elaine L Leonard Puppa, and Alessio Fasano. Trace gluten contamination may play a role in mucosal and clinical recovery in a subgroup of diet-adherent non-responsive celiac disease patients. BMC Gastroenterology 2013, 13:40 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-230X/13/40

The guidelines for the diet are listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Products allowed/disallowed in the Gluten Contamination Elimination Diet (GCED), targeting the elimination of gluten cross-contamination

Grains:
Allowed: Plain, unflavored, brown and white rice
Not Allowed: Millet, sorghum, buckwheat or other inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, or flours

Fruits/Vegetables:
Allowed: All fresh fruits/vegetables
Not allowed: Frozen, canned or dried

Proteins:
Allowed: Fresh meats, Fresh fish, Eggs, Dried beans, Unseasoned nuts in the shell
Not Allowed: Lunch meats, Ham, bacon; Other processed, self-basted or cured meat products

Dairy:
Allowed: Butter, yogurt (unflavored), milk (unflavored), aged cheeses
Not Allowed: Seasoned or flavored dairy products, Processed cheeses

Condiments:
Oils, vinegar, honey, salt
Flavored and malt vinegars

Beverages:
Allowed: 100% fruit/vegetable
Gluten-free supplemental formulas
Gatorade, milk, water

Hollon et al. BMC Gastroenterology 2013 13:40 doi:10.1186/1471-230X-13-40

I printed off the article, read it, highlighted, read it again. I still feel like the description just doesn’t answer my questions. They say in the article what criteria they use before putting a patient on the diet, what sort of problems patients had trying to stay on the diet, and that before starting the diet it is really important to consult with a dietician.

2013-07-06 at 10.53.492009 - Montebello's Rainy Day

Well. That’s nice. If I had a “real” celiac diagnosis, had had a biopsy, had a clue of the condition of my villi, then I might be able to get help with the symptoms, the ongoing challenges. I might be able to get someone to give me a referral. As it is, I’m on my own for a lot of this. So I’m trying to figure it out on my own.

Here are some examples of the types of questions I’m answering for myself. Please note, I DO NOT KNOW IF THE ANSWERS ARE RIGHT!

Q: No frozen meat?
A: Don’t buy it pre-frozen. You can buy fresh meat and freeze it yourself.

Q: No flavoured vinegars?
A: If you buy plain apple cider vinegar and fresh fruit or garlic, then flavor the vinegar yourself by soaking the flavoring fruit or garlic in the vinegar, since all of it is made from allowed ingredients, the result will also be allowed.

Here’s another example of my twisted flawed logic for trying to stumble through self-guidance for the Fasano Diet. Alright, rice is allowed. But rice makes me feel sick and quinoa makes me feel good. So, me, I’m using quinoa. Fresh chicken is allowed. Fresh onions. Fresh mushrooms. I can use salt. I can use butter. I can sauté the mushroom in butter with salt. I can grate “aged cheese” and use that (but should NOT use pre-grated cheese bought at the store). So then, I can make this, right? And this would count as “whole food” because all the ingredients were bought fresh and whole and then assembled into something by yours truly. And now I have food.

"Whole Food" sort of

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