Gluten-Free Wednesday with Dr. Wangen

Hope y’all had a wonderful, relaxing, healthy Labor Day Weekend! Guess that officially means that the summer is over… Looking at the bright side of things – which we at Custom Choice Cereal always prefer – football season is back on. And that’s always a great thing ;-) But back to the “really” important things in life…

Today is once again the first Wednesday of of the month aka Dr. Wangen Wednesday! This means that our friend and advisor Dr. Stephen Wangen answers any question you might have about celiac disease, gluten intolerance and living gluten-free!

Suffering from celiac disease himself, Stephen understands the challenges of a gluten-free diet from both a personal and professional experience. Most importantly, he is very passionate about helping others like you. This passion was a call that he answered by co-founding The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, WA, blogging as The Gluten Free Doctor, and serving on the Board of Trustees for the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. We invite you to read more about Stephen and his books in our introduction to our advisors.

Dr. Wangen is going out of his way to provide this wonderful service, and we appreciate your understanding that out of respect for Dr. Wangen and his time we have to limit each session to 5 questions on a first-come, first-served basis. Please join us at Custom Choice Cereal in thanking Stephen for taking the time off his busy schedule to address your questions.

Asking what YOU want to know is easy and can be done in just 4 simple steps:

  1. Post your question as a comment to this blog entry
  2. We send all questions to Dr. Wangen
  3. Dr. Wangen answers and we publish what he says in reply to your comments
  4. Check back for the answer to your question a few days later or simply subscribe to our blog

Don’t be shy – there are no “dumb questions” except for those you don’t ask :-) Besides, we learn a whole lot from what you want to know every month and are curious to see your questions!

“Because It’s P-A-S-S-O-V-E-R!”

Despite (or because of?) it’s brevity, we at Custom Choice Cereal hope that you will particularly enjoy today’s blog post! It’s Passover, and by cleaning your house from all chametz you coincidentally have removed a whole lot of gluten as well. That made us wonder: do you celebrate Passover entirely gluten-free? What are your favorite dishes for this week? If you have a great recipe, please don’t be shy and share it with us and everyone else. Besides, sharing is sexy :-)

In this spirit – “Hot and flavorful, that’s how I like my matzo balls…” We hope you’ll enjoy this passover video as much as we did!

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/5qSXrnkSeKs?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0

Gluten-Free Dr. Wangen Wednesday

Dr. Stephen WangenIt’s another first Wednesday of the month, aka Dr. Wangen Wednesday! As always, Custom Choice Cereal’s friend and advisor Dr. Stephen Wangen will answer any question you might have about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, which, as latest research reveals, is distinctly different from celiac disease.

Suffering from celiac disease himself, Stephen understands the challenges of a gluten-free diet from both a personal and professional experience. Most importantly, he is very passionate about helping others like you. This passion was a call that he answered by co-founding The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, WA, blogging as The Gluten Free Doctor, and serving on the Board of Trustees for the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. We invite you to read more about Stephen and his books in our introduction to our advisors.

Dr. Wangen is going out of his way to provide this wonderful service, and we appreciate your understanding that out of respect for Dr. Wangen and his time we have to limit each session to 5 questions on a first-come, first-served basis. Please join us at Custom Choice Cereal in thanking Stephen for taking the time off his busy schedule to address your questions.

Asking what YOU want to know is easy and can be done in just 4 simple steps:

  1. Post your question as a comment to this blog entry
  2. We send all questions to Dr. Wangen
  3. Dr. Wangen answers and we publish what he says in reply to your comments
  4. Check back for the answer to your question a few days later or simply subscribe to our blog

Don’t be shy – there are no “dumb questions” except for those you don’t ask :-) Besides, we learn a whole lot from what you want to know every month and are curious to see your questions!

Celiac Sharing Her Story Of Going Gluten-Free

Happy Monday! I am still suffering a little bit from UNC’s loss against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. However, I must admit that I am very pleased with their overall performance. Who would have thought in December that the Tar Heels will make it to the Elite Eight this year?? In addition, this picture of a very special gluten-free cake that my good friend Jules created lifted my mood significantly (even though it didn’t help UNC to a victory).

Back to business… I came across this video from THV in Arkansas. As you know, it’s our mission at Custom Choice Cereal to share information and educate about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and I thought this video fit our mission. WIth a little caveat: while the commentator says that “gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and some oats” the truth is that most oats are cross-contaminated during harvesting and processing.

After a brief introduction that more and more people realize that they have gluten intolerance or celiac disease, a celiac who works at Whole Foods talks about how going helped her gradually transition to “less bloating and less tiredness and less achy joints and less headaches”. Does that sound familiar?? They also point out that “eliminating gluten is the only cure” – though I would have preferred the word “treatment”… It is indeed true that those of us on a gluten-free diet are much more aware of the food we put into our bodies – and the long-term consequences this has for our health and well-being!

Anne Luther, branch manager of the GIG of Central Arkansas, gives a vivid account on how far we’ve come since 2003 when she walked out of the grocery in tears and stresses the importance of avoiding cross-contamination. She also stresses that “Going partially gluten-free isn’t going to help you! You have to get it totally out.”

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

The Gluten Myth On The Dr. Oz Show

Dr. Oz Show
Just a quick heads-up: tonight’s Dr. Oz Show will focus on talk about “The Gluten Myth – Is It Really Making Us Fat?”

We at Custom Choice Cereal are really curious to watch and hear what Dr. Oz and his experts will have to say and to what extend they will talk about gluten, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Medical researchers now differentiate between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, and we are especially curious if Dr. Oz will make the same distinction.

Most of all, it sounds as if Dr. Oz actually will bust the “fad” that a gluten-free diet is a weight-loss diet. We hope however that over all this myth-busting he and his experts won’t forget to stress that there are a lot of people who absolutely need to follow a gluten-free diet! And by far not all gluten-free products available are junk food! Besides, there are plenty of other things that are “making us fat” – we quite honestly think it’s pretty ridiculous to blame the gluten-free diet….

We at Custom Choice Cereal will definitely tune into the Dr. Oz Show tonight, especially after this quick preview on what to expect:

UPDATE/RECAP
After initial skepticism we thought that yesterday’s Dr. Oz Show on “The Gluten Myth” was actually pretty good. While the title wasn’t very well-chosen, the show stressed that a gluten-free diet is not – we repeat: NOT – a weight-loss or low-carb diet! Dr. Oz stressed that many gluten-free substitute goods are high in fat and sugar. He also said that avoiding gluten may not help you lose weight UNLESS you are actually sensitive or intolerant to gluten.

That’s a statement that we at Custom Choice Cereal do not agree with! Dr. Oz unfortunately uses the term “gluten-free food” synonymously with gluten-free substitute foods. That is an important distinction that we sincerely wish he had made because it is more accurate! You can absolutely be healthy on a naturally gluten-free diet (and by the way also lose weight on it though that’s more of a placebo effect).

The main point Dr. Oz wanted to make is that there is NO reason to follow a gluten-free diet (again, we disagree and would have preferred the term “gluten-free substitute goods”) unless you have celiac disease or are intolerant to gluten. Well, at least he got that part right though it seems that many more people than initially thought have some form of gluten sensitivity – and thus benefit from going gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Bakery Product News

Canyon BakehouseWe at Custom Choice Cereal are always happy to see other gluten-free companies thrive and expand their offering. As a result, we had to share this video with Josh Skow, co-founder of Canyon Bakehouse, a gluten-free bakery that currently offers 6 products in over 44 States and is working on introducing 4-5 new goodies in 2011. Congratulations from one gluten-free entrepreneur to another!

A little warning before the video (because we know our own reaction and the sensitivity about this topic) – Josh describes celiac disease as a “disease but it’s like an allergy” and continues to say that “people who are allergic to gluten, which is mainly in wheat”, need to follow a gluten-free diet. Don’t forget that the protein gluten is also in rye and barley! In addition, most oats a cross-contaminated during harvesting and processing so you have to avoid them as well.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

We are sure that Canyon Bakehouse’s products will also be carried in the new gluten-free heaven – with 6,000 square feet of floor space, the nation’s largest entirely gluten-free store is set to open in Burbank, CA. As Debora Ceizler, marketing director for the Celiac Disease Foundation, rightly points out and we at Custom Choice Cereal have tackled (2.5 billion combinations of gluten-free cereal, anyone?): “Variety is difficult to find and variety is key”.

Have you tried the Canyon Bakehouse products?  Which one is your favorite?

Gluten Sensitivity Covered In The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal once again published an outstanding article including a video on a topic that concerns us all, this time focusing on non-celiac gluten sensitivity. And guess what? It was the most emailed article on the WSJ’s website yesterday! I think that’s pretty awesome and a great indicator how dear this topic is to many people.
Who Reacts to Gluten
A new study in the journal BMC Medicine shows that gluten can set off a distinct reaction in the intestines and the immune system, even in people who test negative for celiac disease. It concludes that the two gluten-associated disorders, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, are different clinical entities. As lead author Alessio Fasano from the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research says: “For the first time, we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease. Though the details remain unknown, it is now clear that gluten triggers a quite extreme immune response in some modern humans.

Since gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye and barley have been a staple of our diet for 10,000 years, it is not clear why both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are on such a sharp rise. I have shared Joseph A. Murray’s research before, and he says about celiac disease that “people aren’t born with this. Something triggers it and with this dramatic rise in all ages, it must be something pervasive in the environment”. One of the possible answers: agricultural changes to wheat and other gluten containing grains that have boosted their protein content.

Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, however is much less researched and thus much more vague. As our friend Cynthia Kupper, Executive Director at Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, rightly points out: “There’s a lot more that needs to be done for people with gluten sensitivity. But at least we now recognize that it’s real and that these people aren’t crazy.” As of now, a gluten-free diet is the only treatment recommended for both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

Have you or your child tested negative for celiac disease but seen significant improvements on a gluten-free diet? What tests did your doctor run on you to determine a gluten sensitivity?

College Athlete With Celiac Disease

Living with celiac disease is quite a challenge for anyone but it’s especially tough for athletes who need to maintain their weight – through grueling workouts and a high metabolism. Examples such as Cincinnati Bengals’ Running Back Cedric Benson, UFC’s Dennis Hallmann, LPG star Sarah Jane Smith and quite a few others show us every day that it is absolutely possible to be a top performer with celiac disease in various sports.
Utah's Diana Rolniak Has Celiac Disease
All these guys are full-time professional athletes though. I was therefore very impressed when I read how Utah’s women’s basketball player Diana Rolniak learned to cope with celiac disease as a college athlete. Diagnosed just before her senior year in high school in July 2008, Diana was trying to play basketball while dropping below 100 pounds – which is clearly not a healthy weight for the 6-foot-4 forward!

What I find most encouraging is the support she gets from the team. Interim head coach Anthony Levrets said that “On the road, we’ve figured out the restaurants that cater to gluten-free … that she’s comfortable with. And all of the hotels we stay in, we make sure they’re able to prepare gluten-free meals to go along with our pregame meals.” That’s pretty awesome! But Diana has also developed a few tricks that I think are worth sharing:

  • set up specific living arrangements in order to prevent cross-contamination and living by herself
  • preparing all of her meals and learning to cook
  • having two bowls of cereal, two yogurts, eggs and a homemade sandwich for breakfast

I have a great suggestion how Diana can add unrivaled variety to her daily gluten-free cereal bowl :-) But besides this, I was wondering if you know someone in college who has celiac disease or lives gluten-free? How do they manage? And do you have any advice to share from their experience?

Gluten-Free Dr. Wangen Wednesday

Dr. Stephen WangenIt’s Dr. Wangen Wednesday! As on every first Wednesday of the month, our friend, advisor and celiac disease expert Dr. Stephen Wangen will answer your questions about celiac disease, gluten intolerance, living without wheat, and whatever else want to know!

Stephen has celiac disease and has the exact same concerns that you might have. From both his personal and professional experience, he understands the challenges of a gluten-free diet, and is very passionate about helping you. Similar to us, his passion was a call that he answered by co-founding The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, WA, blogging as The Gluten Free Doctor, and serving on the Board of Trustees for the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. We invite you to read more about Stephen and his books in our introduction to our advisors.

Dr. Wangen is going out of his way to provide this wonderful service, and we appreciate your understanding that out of respect for Dr. Wangen and his time we have to limit each session to 5 questions on a first-come, first-served basis. Please join us at Custom Choice Cereal in thanking Stephen for taking the time off his busy schedule to address your concerns.

Asking your question is easy and can be done in just 4 simple steps:

  1. Post your question as a comment to this blog entry
  2. We send all questions to Dr. Wangen
  3. Dr. Wangen’s answers will be published in reply to your comments
  4. To check for the answer to your question you can either subscribe to our blog or simply check back in a few days

Wondering what tests you should have taken? What areas do you have difficulties with? What kind of (unusual) symptoms do you have? Any concerns about the constant “are oats gluten-free” debate? He can help so don’t be shy and ask away!

Gluten-free Dining Beginner's Guide

A couple of days ago I came across a few twitter comments on gluten-free dining. The subject of the discussion was a the allergy friendly menu of a national restaurant chain. And it made me think of my gluten-free dining experiences – which have been both good and bad…

In my humble opinion, it all boils down to how well the manager and staff of the respective restaurant are educated about what celiac disease and gluten intolerance are. While P.F. Chang’s does an outstanding job teaching all its kitchen employees and waiters about their allergy-friendly menu and even goes so far to use separate color codes and plate shapes to distinguish gluten-free from conventional dishes, this is by far not the norm. Our latest poll (see on the right and please take it if you haven’t already) reflects this challenge of going out gluten-free style.

Your Gluten Freedom!Getting mad at servers and managers or raving on blogs after a bad gluten-free dining experience does not help anyone. Instead, I pledge to educate the waiters and managers when corporate pushes down an allergy-friendly menu on them without telling them what it means or who needs it. And it certainly can get maddening when neither of these show the slightest interest. However, we’re on a mission here… So when I saw Amy Leger aka The Savvy Celiac blog about questions to ask when ordering a gluten-free pizza I thought I extrapolate this to gluten-free dining in general. Hopefully this will help you next time you dine out with friends or family!

  • Ask first. You’ll quickly find out if the staff truly understands their gluten-free menu!
  • Understand the “behind the scenes”. Are they using separate utensils, pots & pans for their gluten-free menu items?
  • Double-check. Sounds paranoid but see if special meals come on differently shaped or colored plates/trays!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for replacements. If there is an obvious mess-up (e.g. breadcrumbs on your salad) ask to have it replaced and do one of two things: (A) take Tiffany’s advice and hold on to your plate until the replacements arrives from the kitchen or (B) be evil, hide a toothpick or piece of your napkin under your salad and double-check when it comes back…
  • Be polite. Let’s be honest. You probably cause the waiter quite some extra work. Showing your appreciation makes it easier for everyone!

These and other tips are also available in Custom Choice Cereal’s section on gluten-free advice, tips & tricks.

Remember, a gluten-free dinner is also safe for people who have to eat wheat-free while wheat-free foods are not necessarily safe for people with celiac disease. Since I heard enough “horror stories” I’d be great to learn where you have made exceptionally good gluten-free dining experiences? Do you have any any advice to share? Do you ask the waiters or go straight to the manager?