Sunday, December 9, 2012

The label says Gluten Free (*But not, like, if you really can't have gluten)

This sort of thing really pisses me off. There's a local bagel place, Los Bagels, that subscribes to the Domino's Pizza vision of gluten free marketing. They say on their blog that their bagels are "a great victory for gluten intolerant people." They add: "Los Bagels boils and bakes them fresh daily, so people with gluten allergies can share in the experience of a fresh baked bagel any time they want." The owner adds, "I have friends in the community who don't come to Los Bagels, because one of their children or their spouse is allergic to gluten...For people with food allergies, it is a challenge to eat out and I'm happy some of these folks can come enjoy a Veggie Delight or a bagel with cream cheese and lox."

And then they add the disclaimer. They note that they are a traditional bakery and that wheat flour is "in the baking environment." They add, "We are educating our staff and our customers about exactly what we are offering, since some people do have an extreme allergic reaction to gluten. So far, it seems a large majority of our customers are only mildly allergic or not eating gluten for other health reasons." 

Gee... this sure is a "great victory" for those with "gluten intolerance" and allergies. Wouldn't you agree? 

They also offer these pre-packaged and they are sold in the freezer next to the Udi's and Glutino selection at the local market under a hard-to-miss "gluten free" sign. They do put a tiny disclaimer on the bottom of the label on the bag that the bagels are, like, gluten free but maybe not that gluten free. But how many unsuspecting suckers do you suppose have just seen the big friendly "gluten free" sign and missed the fine print?

I'm so sick of the gluten free fad diet thing. It used to be, back in the day, that if a company bothered to put "gluten free" on the label, you could usually trust that it was, indeed, gluten free. Now it's just another marketing slogan. Places like Los Bagels obviously don't have a clue how much harder they make the lives of people who medically can't eat gluten. When, oh when, will we finally have a law defining that gluten free has to--gasp!--meet an accepted legal standard defining gluten free.

For the record, Los Bagels is one of the only places around here I won't even get a coffee in. There are other bakery-type places here where I can meet friends and reasonably safely have a coffee while they munch on their cookies or whatnot. But not here. I got a cup of coffee at their Eureka branch a while back and wound up in gastro-purgatory, doubled over in agony for longer than I'd care to remember. My suspicion was that a server who'd just handled a bagel hadn't wiped the crumbs off her fingertips before gripping the edge of my mug. It had been busy, and she had touched the top of my mug. If I'd been thinking more clearly, I wouldn't have let that mug touch my lips.

At any rate, the thought of eating a "gluten free" (sort of, maybe, but only if you're only "mildly allergic") bagel from a place like that... ugh. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Still here... still struggling... plus some schadenfreude

This past Thanksgiving marked 11 years since my Celiac diagnosis, which came when I'd already been dealing with several food allergies. I wish I could say it's gotten easier. In some ways, it has. At least I know the ins and outs by now of what I can and can't eat. But it's still hard. I stepped away from this food-related blog for a long while because.... I'm burned out. I'm burned out on cooking. I'm burned out on having to think about food all the time. I'm burned out on having to sit in restaurants watching my friends eat while my stomach growls and I pretend not to be hungry. I'm burned out on not being able to grab a scone with my coffee when I'm out in the afternoon. I'm just plain burned out. I didn't want to spend more time writing about it.

But I'm opinionated. I have a blog for the artsy side of my life, but it isn't really the place for these sorts of things. I started missing the idea of having a place to gripe about doctors, the diet and uncaring omnivores who can still eat pizza and enjoy the offerings at the annual Christmas potluck. I started missing the Mad GF Cat. So, after a long hiatus I think I'm going to return once in a while.

Only I think the title might need some readjusting, at least in spirit. Since I last was here, I've added another diagnosis to my collection. It turns out I also have M.S., and have had it for at least 12 years, but was misdiagnosed by one specialist after another for 10 of them. I guess in spirit it's more the Mad GF-MS Cat. I've been feeling burned out on a lot of things lately.

I recently had a doctor's appointment. I actually like my doctor and don't wish him any unhappiness. But he, like so many, has never really seemed to understand my gluten diagnosis (which came from elsewhere), nor been particularly understanding about the practicalities of the diet. "What's so hard about it?" he once said some years ago. "Why would you have to cook more?"

During my appointment the other day, he let it slip that a member of his family has been found to have... a gluten intolerance. "It's horrible," he sighed. "It's so hard to find anything to eat! It's so hard to eat out!" And, he informed me dejectedly, "Gluten free bread is terrible."