Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Is celiac a disability?

Here's an interesting story from LegalNewsline.com about celiac disease and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Basically, it seems the law is very murky about where celiac falls in this, despite some legal decisions recently, and says celiac may not be classified as a disability in all cases.

You can read the story here:


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A big anniversary approaches

Tomorrow marks my fifth anniversary of my celiac diagnosis, which threw me for a loop just before Christmas weekend in 2010.

And I just got an email reminding me of how maddening that weekend was. It was a general message from Mellow Mushroom reminding customers that its restaurants will close at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

I spent Dec. 24, 2010, frantically visiting every grocery store in the area before they closed for the holiday, looking for anything with this mysterious "gluten-free" label to make sure I would have at least have something to eat over the weekend.

Meanwhile, I had learned on the Internet that at least one restaurant in the area, Mellow Mushroom, had gluten-free pizza. So I figured I could at least keep my tradition of Christmas Eve pizza alive.

Assuming that the restaurant would likely be closing early, I headed to Mellow Mushroom in Jacksonville Beach shortly before 5 p.m. planning to order a pizza to take home. Of course, I arrived to find the parking lot empty and the doors locked. I was crushed -- the perfect ending to a perfect 24 hours.

Five years later, I'm much more knowledgeable and there are a lot more options available, so I'm well prepared for Christmas without gluten. And while I resolve to not whine too much about our gluten-free diet, I can't help but reflect about how difficult and frustrating it can be at times.

Hopefully things will continue to get better for those of us stuck on the diet.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Beware of eggs at IHOP

Not that I had any intention of visiting the International House of Pancakes anytime soon, but I just read this fascinating nugget in a story about surprising fast food facts posted on the CBS News website:

"IHOP adds a bit of its signature pancake batter to both its omelets and its scrambled eggs. So, contrary to popular belief, customers who are trying to eat gluten free or watch their diets should beware the egg section of the menu."


Of course, if you went to a place like IHOP and ordered something you thought was safe, like eggs, you would probably have major concerns about cross contamination. But pancake batter in the eggs?

So there's now no chance that I'll ever visit an IHOP again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

NFCA becomes 'Beyond Celiac'

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness today announced it has changed its name to Beyond Celiac.

The foundation said the name change reflects its evolution from an organization focusing on awareness to a broader role in advocating for care and research, including a goal of finding a cure for celiac by 2025.

“As we listened to the community, it was clear their unmet needs extend far beyond raising awareness. By changing our name to Beyond Celiac, we’re emphasizing the evolution of our programs, services and mission to ensure that celiac disease is known as a serious, genetic autoimmune disease needing an early diagnosis and better treatment options,” said Beyond Celiac Founder and President Alice Bast.

The foundation also changed its website URL from celiaccentral.org to www.beyondceliac.org.

Since being diagnosed five years ago, the NFCA -- and now Beyond Celiac -- has been my go-to organization for information about celiac, although there are other advocacy organizations that also do good work. But I've always enjoyed talking to Alice and support her efforts to make life better for celiacs. If they are committed to finding a cure, I feel good that they will achieve that goal.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gluten-free perceptions are getting worse. Sigh.

Well, the more we talk about the gluten-free diet, the more people just don't get it.

Despite our attempts to educate the public that gluten-free foods are not always healthy but are absolutely necessary for those of us with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, a new survey by Mintel shows that a large number of people don't take it seriously.

Mintel reported that "nearly half (47 percent) of consumers agree that gluten-free diets are a fad, compared to 31 percent in 2013."

All I can do is sigh.

There are some other interesting nuggets in the report, such as the distrust of gluten-free claims and the fact that 28 percent of celiacs "are less strict" about their gluten-free diet when they eat out. I'm wondering what that means: do people eat foods that they know are dangerous or are they more willing to take risks with cross-contamination when they eat out (I admit to being in the latter category)?

You can read Mintel's full press release on the survey here:


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No difference in gluten-free latkes

Check out these two plates of potato latkes in the photo. One is gluten free and one isn't. Can you tell the difference?

Neither could I, if I didn't know (for the record, it's the plate on the left).

My mother made latkes last night for a Hanukkah dinner and, for my benefit, she made one batch of gluten-free latkes.

It wasn't complicated at all -- well, that's easy for me to say because I didn't cook them. It actually does take some effort to make potato latkes from scratch. But the point is, to make them gluten free, all she did was substitute gluten-free Bisquick for the regular flour in the recipe. Everything else was the same.

They tasted great. I can't imagine the other batch tasted any different than the gluten-free batch.

That's the good thing about the holidays. I don't think there's anything about a holiday meal that can't be made gluten free. Of course, it helps a lot of if you have understanding family and friends who will accommodate you at big gatherings. But hopefully, you'll have happy gluten-free holidays.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Disappointed by bb's menu

I visited bb's restaurant and bar in San Marco for lunch this week and I was disappointed. I was expecting more from its gluten-free menu.

About a year ago, I visited and wrote about Biscottis in Avondale's gluten-free menu, which included terrific gluten-free sandwiches. Since bb's has common ownership with Biscottis, I was hoping for the same.

However, I was disappointed to find bb's doesn't have gluten-free bread. It does have gluten-free pizzas and many of its other dishes can be made gluten free, but I was hoping for a sandwich.

The gluten-free menu lists sandwiches and says you can substitute field greens for bread, which I guess means you get meat and field greens. I actually call that a salad.

I did order a salad -- from the actual salad menu -- and it was very good. I could tell when I ordered that the waitress understood my need for a gluten-free meal (meaning no croutons, among other things), so there are positive things to say about bb's.

But I wish bb's did have the same, or a least similar, gluten-free sandwiches as Biscottis.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New gluten sensor looks interesting, but pricey

I saw something interesting in Time Magazine's roundup of the "25 best innovations of 2015" - a new sensor product called the Nima that will allow us to test food for the presence of gluten in just two minutes.

As you probably know, there are a lot of products out there that would allow you to test your food, but they take a while to produce a result and by the time you know for sure that your food is safe, it's gone cold. A test time of two minutes is a big improvement.

The Nima is relatively small (3.5 by 3.1 inches) and its maker, 6SensorLabs, says it's easy to use. It will give you a little smiley face or a frown to let you know the results.

The downside is the price, which will probably prevent most of us from using it. A Nima starter kit, which includes the sensor and three disposable test capsules, is $249, although the company is offering it at a pre-order price of $199. The company isn't shipping the products until mid-2016.

Additional 12-packs of test capsules are $47.95 during the pre-sale.

I actually thought the most promising news from the company is that it will also offer a smartphone app that will let users see test results from other users, so they can learn about restaurants that are safe or unsafe for celiacs and others with gluten intolerance. The company did not say if you have to buy the Nima to get the app.

Anyway, despite the price, this is an interesting step forward for gluten testing. We'll have to see how well this product does once it actually does hit the market.

You can get more information at nimasensor.com