Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fiber Tips

Don't Overestimate Fruit, Advises Expert

What are the most effective sources of dietary fiber for those who are on gluten-free and lactose-free diets?

That's the question fiber expert Joanne Slavin answers in a recent U.S. News and World Report blog entry by senior writer Katherine Hobson.

The answer? "Beans and legumes would probably be the most effective. You might also consider cooked or stewed vegetables, which are easier to consume. Generally, fruits are low in fiber and relatively high in calories and sugar, so they're not a great fiber source."

Many thanks for this guidance!

Also: Did you know that beans (and many other gluten-free foods) can be frozen? Thanks to Allergic Girl for the lead!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Human Being

GF Cake for Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View

Today, for Elisabeth Hasselbeck's birthday, the View host received a Beatlesesque birthday serenade from her brother Ken Filarski plus a gluten-free birthday cake and some empathy from a Daily Kos diarist who wrote:
Although I almost exclusively disagree with the opinions she voices on that program, and frankly find all kinds of entertainment punditry to be damaging to the public discourse, I wish to extend birthday wishes to Mrs. Hasselbeck. Becomes sometimes it takes the appearance of a gluten-free birthday cake on a day-time talk show to remind me of the humanity of those who espouse views opposite my own....

[W]hen her brother came out and sang "Happy Birthday" and the women of "The View" gathered around a gluten-free cake to celebrate Elisabeth's birthday, the sap oozed out of me and I was reminded that Mrs. Hasselbeck isn't merely a talking head but a woman who ages and has genuine health issues....

Her occupation may be sensationalist, her statements on the wrong side of history, but from one human being to another I wish Elisabeth Hasselbeck a happy birthday.

Source (4:52)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

L. Lodico Walk Next Sunday

The third annual L. Lodico Walk for Celiac Disease takes place next Sunday, May 31, 2009, at Little Bay Park in Queens.

It's a little different from last year's walk, so be sure to check out the forms in advance.

Here's television coverage tied into another upcoming fundraising walk, upstate in Rochester.

Source (2:50)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Uno Chicago Grill to Support the ACDA

From May 25 through May 31, 20% of Uno Chicago Grill purchases made with this voucher will benefit the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA), which advocates in Washington, DC.

If you want to be part of this fundraising effort, contact your destination Uno Chicago Grill to confirm that it is a participating restaurant. And don't forget that voucher!

Here's a gluten-free pizza coupon— and here are the gluten-free offerings at Uno Chicago Grill.

And here's a CNBC item about Uno Chicago Grill's gluten-free pizza. What do you think about the pizza? Is it delicious, or is it cardboard??

Source (1:21)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

GF Jocks: Sarah Jane Smith

Not very long ago, LPGA golfer Sarah Jane Smith received a diagnosis of celiac disease, went on a gluten-free diet, and saw her game improve. From the LPGA website:
Fortunately, the dietary change has contributed to her success on the course, which has included two runner-up finishes on the 2008 Duramed FUTURES Tour. She now serves as an ambassador for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)....

"I changed my diet because Celiac disease runs in my family. Earlier this spring, I stopped eating wheat or gluten. I cut out bread and pasta and it's really helped. I feel better on the course and the new diet has given me more energy. It requires a lot of planning, though. You can't just grab a sandwich when you go out on the course. Now, I eat a lot of gluten-free energy bars, fruits and nuts, and rice cakes with wheat-free peanut butter."
Here is a PSA from Sarah and the NFCA, where she is one of the Athletes for Awareness.

Source (00:29)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Hasselbeck Bump?

Book to Debut on New York Times Best-Seller List

This post isn't about Elisabeth Hasselbeck's little baby bulge.

It's about the impact that the gluten-free View co-host (shown at right at recent Borders book event) might have in boosting awareness of celiac disease.

Consider the results for "celiac" and "gluten" on Google Trends. In both cases you can see spikes representing searches for those words in early 2007 and now. The older spike probably represents Hasselbeck's January 2007 "coming out" as being gluten-free on The View as well as the rollout of Anheuser-Busch's Redbridge beer and, ultimately, the very hot news story about melamine in gluten in pet food.

But how about the current spike, which coincides with the release of Hasselbeck's book The G-Free Diet? Granted, May is also a Celiac Disease Awareness Month, but I have a feeling Hasselbeck's book, currently number two on The New York Times Hardcover Advice best-seller list, has a lot to do with people searching for "celiac" and "gluten."

A week ago, I attended Hasselbeck's reading at the Borders at Park Avenue and 57th Street. Coffee was served...

...and there were samples a-plenty of the new Starbucks Valencia Orange Cakes!

Here she is speaking...

...and here she is signing books.

So how was the event? It reminded me of the old New York City CSA support group meetings, which have not been held for several years. About 60 people attended, filling the area of the bookstore set aside for the event. After Hasselbeck told her story and invited questions, the question-askers (one had just gotten diagnosed—and another had gotten a diagnosis after his autism spectrum disorder child tested positive for celiac disease!) sought guidance on subjects ranging from getting diagnoses to finding friendly restaurants. Hasselbeck fielded the questions reasonably well but the answers were not as comprehensive as they might've been had the gathering involved a panel of people sharing the wisdom of their pooled experiences. Yes, this was a book-signing, not a support group meeting—but this was a book event that attracted people looking for support and validation that is not as available in New York City as it is elsewhere in the greater metropolitan area.

I also note that Hasselbeck continued to offer useful and accurate information mixed in with remarks that weren't as useful and accurate. When asked about restaurant options in the Big Apple, she reeled off a bunch of options but never mentioned the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP)'s website (let alone the GFNYC restaurant listings) as as an up-to-date resource for that kind of information. When it came to vinegar, she basically warned against it despite the research by Gluten-Free Living that showed that, with the exception of malt vinegar, all simple vinegars are gluten-free. "Vinegar Contains Gluten" is actually one of persistent myths identified in Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, co-written by Rory Jones and Dr. Peter Green, Hasselbeck's own doctor (and mine):
Any vinegar that is distilled is gluten-free. Malt vinegar is not distilled and contains gluten. It is important to read labels to see what other ingredients may be in a product that contains vinegar. But the distilled vinegar itself is not an offending ingredient.
Spikes in interest about celiac disease and gluten-free dieting provide gluten-free support networks with opportunities to provide reliable answers to the public and find the many people who remain undiagnosed. Hasselbeck and The G-Free Diet represents one of those opportunities—but no single book or individual should be expected to provide all of those answers, which in some (or many) cases may evolve over time. Those seeking support in New York City might benefit from the resources listed here and here. I hope to see the resources grow as word spreads in the times ahead.

BONUS For more evidence of a Hasselbeck bump, check out this segment from Sacramento TV station KCRA.

Source (3:42)

Photos: David Marc Fischer

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Early Show Boosts Awareness

Yesterday on The Early Show, Harry Smith and nutritionist/TV host Emma Buckley discussed celiac disease and its treatment—a gluten-free diet. Here's the segment. (I removed the embedded video due to technical difficulties.) It's good coverage, though Buckley (who recently interviewed NFCA spokesperson Heidi Collins of CNN) overrates the efficacy of FDA oversight. Also, the accompanying PDF probably should have omitted mentions of stamp and envelope adhesives due to lack of evidence that the gum includes gluten. (I also question the warning about distilled alcohol—as the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) put it, "Distilled alcoholic beverages such as gin, vodka, scotch whisky and rye whiskey are made from the fermentation of wheat, barley or rye. Since they are distilled, they do not contain prolamins and are allowed unless otherwise contraindicated.")

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dietitian Shelley Case Cautions Readers of The G-Free Diet

Today Yesterday, registered dietitian Shelley Case issued a press release advising people who might consider adopting a gluten-free diet following the publication of Elisabeth Hasselbeck's The G-Free Diet.

"It's a myth that everyone should be on a gluten-free diet," says Case. "Just because alternative health practitioners, personal trainers and celebrities are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon, doesn't mean it is right for everyone." Case worries that too many people will look to the diet to solve a multitude of problems such as arthritis, ADHD, elevating energy levels and even weight loss. "Contrary to popular buzz, the GF diet is not a panacea diet" says Case....

Case refutes the common myth that a trial gluten-free diet is the best way to determine if you have celiac disease. "Unfortunately a growing number of people are attempting to self-diagnose their own gluten sensitivity without proper medical assessment and nutrition counseling," says Case. "It's absolutely imperative to see a physician BEFORE adopting a gluten-free diet."

Celiac disease is diagnosed by a specific blood test and small intestinal biopsy. Gluten must be present in the diet in order for these tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Without an official diagnosis, people may not be motivated to strictly follow the diet for the rest of their lives or receive further follow up care to monitor for potential complications of the disease that can include osteoporosis and gastrointestinal cancer. Furthermore, their relatives may not get screened for celiac disease if the family member does not have a confirmed biopsy proven diagnosis.

Case worries that many people will try this diet as the latest "fad" because of a celebrity status associated with it. As result, "those with celiac disease may not be taken as seriously in restaurants because everyone thinks it's just a lifestyle choice or trendy obsession." Even small amounts of gluten can damage the intestinal tract. Because celiac disease is a serious lifelong disorder, it should be accorded the respect it deserves.
Other responses to The G-Free Diet can be found here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gluten-Free Coverage at

Includes Input from Dr. Peter Green and Two Regional Bakers (which covers the Lower Hudson Valley) recently ran two Linda Lombroso articles having to with celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.

The longer article, "Eating gluten-free" (May 11, 2009) features two area bakers: Three Dogs Gluten-Free Bakery founder Karen Miller (current head of GFRAP in the greater metroplitan area) and Good Day Sunshine founder Pam Goldberg as well as Dr. Peter GreenElisabeth Hasselbeck's celiac specialist and mine, too. Lombroso mentions a study co-authored by Green that documented the greater cost of a gluten-free diet and writes
Outside the United States, some patients diagnosed with celiac disease get a prescription for gluten-free foods, says Green. "In areas of Europe, like in Italy, the government encourages diagnosis, and all around the world, there are many countries in which gluten-free food is part of the national health care and the food is provided free."
Keep that possibility in mind when you're thinking health care reform!

The other article, "Celiac disease: a hidden epidemic?" (May 8, 2009), revolves around Dr. Green's book of the same title (sans question mark). Green encourages people who suspect that they have celiac disease to consult with their physicians about getting tested regardless of their symptoms.
"I see patients who say they asked their doctor to have the blood test, and they say: 'He said I couldn't have it because I was too fat or too tall or I didn't have diarrhea or I wasn't Irish or I wasn't Italian or I was Jewish,' because there are a lot of misconceptions about what celiac disease is like. Most people don't have classic symptoms," he says.

"If a doctor says he won't test for it, you should find a new doctor, because that just means he doesn't know the tremendous variability in the ways it can present."
Here's information about diagnosing celiac disease.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Everybody Loves Chris's Favorite Pasta!

It's true: Tinkyada makes outstanding gluten-free pasta—especially in terms of consistency and cost!

Source (2:13)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hasselbeck on Rachael Ray and Larry King Live

Plus Reviews and Reactions

Here's a summary of Elisabeth's appearance on the Rachael Ray Show, where Rachael gushed about BabyCakes cupcakes. And here she is on Larry King Live. As you can see from the Larry King transcript, the interview covered a range of subjects over more than 17 minutes, with the diet coming up around the mid-point.

In related news, the very respectable Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) expressed concern about inaccuracies in Elisabeth's book and appearances. It's true that Elisabeth has repeatedly called celiac disease an allergy (even though people often call it an allergy, it is technically an autoimmune disease), but when Larry King asked her about that she replied, "It is an autoimmune disease."

It's becoming clear, I think, that Elisabeth's book campaign includes risks as well as benefits. She's raising awareness about celiac disease but her language isn't entirely precise and some of her information is spotty or out-of-date. As has been the case in the past, it is up to organizations such as the CDF and the rest of the gluten-free community to try to separate the wheat from the chaff (er, the gluten from the diet?) and do our best to clarify what needs to be clarified.

Here are reviews of The G-Free Diet from Nancy Lapid, Sure Foods Living, and At Home With Books.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The G-Free Diet on The View

Starbucks aside, this is turning out to be Elisabeth Hasselbeck week at Gluten-Free NYC. I hope you don't mind—it's just that she does have her book out, and it's getting attention, and it's interesting to see the messages that she's getting across. It just shouldn't be ignored: The G-Free Diet has even made it into Amazon's Top 10 Bestsellers in Books, right up there with the Twilight series.

So here (below) is footage from Monday's The View, where Elisabeth shined a spotlight on her dietitian, Ashley Koff, and talked about her diet with co-host Sherri Shepherd while co-host Whoopi Goldberg scarfed some samples. It reminded me of the olden days of January 2007, when Elisabeth and Rosie introduced much of the world to Anheuser-Busch's gluten-free Redbridge beer!

In this segment Elisabeth and her producers manage to give props to a number of friendly vendors, including Utz, Outback, Wendy's, Blue Diamond, Amy's Kitchen, General Mills, P.F. Chang's, Uno Chicago Grill, and (to my surprise) flax-containing pasta from Hodgson Mill, which Elisabeth seems to swear by even though I don't think it's been on the market very long.

She's certainly raising awareness of celiac disease and making a gluten-free diet seem fairly easy and worthwhile to follow, though I fear that she understates the importance of getting a medical diagnosis before going on the diet and overstates the health value of the diet for those who don't have celiac disease or similarly diagnosable conditions such as gluten ataxia. I note, however, that Elisabeth does say that she will get her kids tested if they show symptoms, so that's a sign that she does believe in medical diagnosis and also doesn't have her kids on her strict diet, though they do seem to like her foods.

Source (6:44)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

More Elisabeth Hasselbeck Book News

Following Monday's release of Elisabeth Hasselbeck's The G-Free Diet, I note that Elisabeth will offer a book signing (with a brief talk and Q&A) at the Park Avenue Borders (461 Park Ave. at 57th Street) at 7pm on Thursday, May 7, 2009.

This is among a number of events tied in with the book's publication, including May 6 appearances on the Rachael Ray Show and Larry King Live and a feature story in the August/September issue of Living Without.

Here (4:50) is book-related footage from Elisabeth's appearance on Hannity. The lead-in clip is here (6:55).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Welcome, Starbucks Valencia Orange Cake!

Today was the day that the Starbucks Valencia Orange Cake made its official debut. (Kudos to the many employees who resisted my pleas for advance tastings!) Tonight I purchased two at an East Side location and might've emptied the place of its stock, as one of the two cakes was the display case sample, already taken out of its plastic wrapper. I gave that sample to a friend who isn't on a gluten-free diet.

As reported elsewhere, the Valencia Orange Cake is fruity and moist—unusually so for a gluten-free baked good. The cost is reasonable at $1.95. The ingredients are whole eggs, valencia orange pulp, almonds, sugar, orange peel, gluten-free baking powder, rice flour, and orange oil. Together they add up to
290 calories
16 grams of fat (25% daily value including 2 grams of saturated fat and no trans fat)
40mg sodium (2% daily value)
125 mg cholesterol (42% dailly value)
40mg sodium (2% daily value)
32 grams of carbohydrates (11% daily value)
4 grams of dietary fiber (16% daily value)
23 grams of sugar
9 grams of protein
4% the daily value of Vitamin A
30% the daily value of Vitamin C
10% the daily value of calcium
8% the daily value of iron
So it's sort of like a meal in itself?

It's great to have this option at Starbucks. My main suggestion would be to create plastic facsimiles of the cake so they could be used in the display cases while the actual cakes stay protected in their bags. In the long run, I would still like to see Starbucks certify salads and other foods as safe for those of us on medical gluten-free diets, so perhaps this will turn out to be a good step in that direction.

Monday, May 04, 2009

On Sale Now: The G Free Diet

Curious about Going Gluten-Free? Get Tested First!

Elisabeth Hasselbeck appeared on Good Morning America today to promote her new book The G Free Diet. At the GMA website you can see the segment, read an excerpt from her book, and find a link to the book's website,

I'm glad that Elisabeth is raising awareness of celiac disease, which is still grossly underdiagnosed, and it's good to see that her story might alert people diagnosed with IBS that they might actually have celiac disease—but I hope that people do not go on a gluten-free diet before getting tested for the condition. I try to avoid shouting on this blog, but here goes: GET TESTED FIRST!

As I'm sure Dr. Peter Green (Elisabeth's doctor and mine) would be glad to tell you, getting screened for celiac disease is a simple and relatively inexpensive process that should be done in coordination with an informed physician. The first step is to get a series of blood tests while gluten is still in your diet. You can find the list of the blood tests at the website of the Celiac Disease Center of Columbia University (CDCCU), where Dr. Green is the director as well as the founder. Based on the results of the tests, the physician may suggest proceeding with an endoscopic biopsy to look for gluten-related intestinal damage, which is the gold standard for a diagnosis.

Speaking of gold, I want to emphasize that the time when you're considering trying out a gluten-free diet is the golden moment for being screened and tested for celiac disease (which is, strictly speaking, not an allergy). Instead of going on the diet right away, make that appointment with your physician and discuss taking the blood tests. After the results come in, you can talk about the next move. (The biopsy also yields the best results while you're still consuming gluten.) After you get the test results, you can still choose to eliminate gluten from your diet, but at least you'll have a baseline that doctors can refer to. If your tests turn out to be positive, they can be useful in monitoring the success of your diet, getting family members tested as well, and even getting federal tax breaks for your expensive gluten-free food!

Want more info? Try the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), the William K. Warren Medical Research Center for Celiac Disease (WCCD), the Celiac Disease Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (CDCBI), the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research (UMCCR), and Mayo Clinic.

Also, be aware that Dr. Green has co-written his own book, Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic. Don't expect to read about Elisabeth in that book, but do expect to spend some time in the company of one of the world's experts on the subject.

Here you can see Elisabeth and Dr. Green on The View, back in March 2007.

Source (7:12)

Thanks to Erin at the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG) for the lead.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My Note to the FDA

I'm Not Sure It Got There, Though!

Last week I finally submitted some comments to the FDA about its proposed gluten-free food labeling research. I thought I'd figured out the submission process, but now I'm not so sure.

Anyway, as promised, I'm sharing it with you as well. I made an effort to address the FDA's concerns, but I have a sneaky feeling that some of my remarks might've been considered off-topic. Still, I hope they're not too crazy—and I hope they provide some food for thought. Here goes!
I am a clinically diagnosed person with celiac disease who has been on a gluten-free diet for more than eleven years. I maintain a blog called Gluten-Free NYC.

I would be glad to see any new, thoughtful research on labeling food to make shopping and dining easier for people on medical gluten-free diets.

My suggestions probably relate most to “ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected.” They are based on my experience, including communication with many others who are gluten-free.

Basically, I encourage you to work hard to make the most of the study by “asking the right questions.”

So please consider the following nine points when formulating your questions:

1. Many labeling discussions involve coming up with labels such as “gluten-free” to represent measurements, but I ask you to please consider the option of also including the actual measurements on labels, perhaps expressed as a range reflecting the variance that can be found when measuring products. Certainly sharing the high-end (or worst-case scenario) of the range should be considered. The University of Nebraska food allergy lab used by the Celiac Sprue Association and directed by Steve Taylor might be a good source of information about taking this approach. Something else to consider is research on the reliability of different measurement techniques, which continue to evolve. A presentation about this was made at the 2006 International Celiac Symposium held in New York City. I think the presenter was Enrique Mendez of Spain’s Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia.

2. Find out what people think “gluten-free” or “gluten” signifies. I think many people might not realize that the main concern about gluten in food has to do with specific medical conditions, not weight control or something proven to be inherently unhealthy for the general population.

3. On a related point: Consider including educational information on labels to explain why people might want to go on a gluten-free diet. This is important in terms of informing the population about celiac disease, a severely underdiagnosed condition, as well as debunking misunderstandings that people might have about gluten in food. The information could be included on some labels, but it could also be offered via a toll-free number and a website. This could boost the dissemination of medically sound (NIH?) information explaining why gluten is being measured in the first place.

4. In preparing this questionnaire, consult with gluten-free associations in other countries (such as Canada, Finland, and Italy) to learn from their experiences.

5. Consider including dates on labels to indicate when they were printed. This could boost consumer confidence about how well products live up to the most recent standards.

6. Look into using label or bar code information to help determine price differences between products and their gluten-free equivalents. There is a possible tax deduction based on the difference, but it can be a burden for individuals to have to calculate a year’s worth of price differences every year. Perhaps this could lead to a standard deduction option for gluten-free diets.

7. Look into using bar code information to enhance consumer ability to research the gluten content of the product and also enhance the ability of retailers to identify which products are suitable for gluten-free diets.

8. Address areas where current allergen labeling has been inadequate. A possible example might be Quaker Oats, which is one of many oat lines that test positive for gluten even though the labels do not warn about wheat content.

9. Question why barley content hasn’t been added to the “problem ingredient” list. It is not one of the main allergens, but it is one of the main sources of gluten contamination, which concerns about 1% of the population.

Thank you for considering these points and good luck in taking swift, sensible actions to assist a growing segment of the population.
Got comments for the FDA? The cutoff date is May 5, 2009.

And thanks to Ben Cappel for #5!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tangomonium at Red Mango

Sample Giveaway on May 2

What a time it is for gluten-free products: Tuesday is the official rollout of the gluten-free Valencia Orange Cake from Starbucks, but in the meantime Red Mango will launch its new gluten-free Tangomonium yogurt flavor with a giveaway from noon to 4pm on Saturday, May 2.

"Tangomonium not only satisfies taste buds and rejuvenates the mind, but it is also good for the body. Like Red Mango's other frozen yogurt flavors, Tangomonium is 100% all natural, contains no artificial ingredients, is nonfat, and gluten free. It is also a good source of calcium, and full of probiotic live and active cultures," says Red Mango founder, president, and CEO Dan Kim, who also presided over the creation of the flavor. "Tangomonium is bright, sunny, uplifting, and tang-y. It makes you smile, and brings up blissful memories that take you to a happy place," says Kim.

Red Mango states that "Red Mango frozen yogurt is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization."