Gluten-free is big right now. And by that I mean it is a money maker. Manufacturers know this. Manufacturers are in the business of making money and they know that when everyone is talking about "gluten-free", then it's time to start stocking the shelves with gluten-free products.
Last year, the gluten-free market hit 4.2 billion dollars worth of revenue. That's a lot of moolah. And let me tell you - our family spent many a day sick by believing that manufacturers would always be telling the truth when they labeled their products "gluten free."
What Do the Words Gluten Free Really Mean?
I'm writing this post for the "newbies" and "not-so-newbies" out there who are just getting started and may naively believe manufacturer's deceptive advertising. I remember a few years ago when more and more companies first started hopping on the gluten-free band wagon, we would be in the grocery store shopping and we'd stop dead in our tracks when we'd see those magic words:
We were so excited and happy! Finally they were making products for us, too - people who couldn't eat wheat, rye, barley or oats. Foods we could eat. All was wonderful!
Happy But Only Because We Were Gullible
We were so gullible. So trusting. We were.
But the Clevenger family learned the hard way after several rounds of being glutenized that many companies simply labeled their products "gluten-free." Why? Remember what I wrote in that second paragraph. The gluten-free market is a huge money maker.
Things I Hear From Other Celiacs All the Time
I'm always hearing comments like the ones below from fellow celiacs. They're following a gluten-free diet but they still don't feel well.
"But I read over the labels. It looked gluten free."
"I called the company. They assured me it was gluten-free."
"They're listed on such and such site, or in such and such book, and it says there they're gluten-free. So they are? Right?"
How to make Good Gluten-Free Food Choices?
When you see the words "gluten-free" labeled all over a package, before you start jumping up and down and doing the "Happy Dance", do a few things first.
Read the label - believe it or not, sometimes right on there you'll find an ingredient you know has gluten. Or sometimes it will state on the packaging that the product is manufactured on machinery that also handles gluten, wheat or one of the other top allergens.
Go online and do a search in google - I put the name of the product followed by the words "gluten reaction." For instance, here's what I would put into a google search to see if anyone online is having any issues with rice chex cereal:
And here's a little heads up - if you're eating Rice Chex cereal and have no complaints, you might not want to read the rest of this post.
Be Your Own Advocate
I'm always one to encourage people to be your own advocate. Take care of and protect your own best interest.
Before you try a new food, do the research for yourself. Try one new food at a time. Listen to your body. Are you noticing any reaction to the food at all? Headache, fatigue, nausea, mouth ulcers or ears plugged or ringing? Just a few symptoms that tell us we just had gluten.
I think people often underestimate how well their body knows what foods are good and which do not benefit them. If you want to trust something, maybe that's something you'd be better off trusting - that's for sure! You'll find it's an amazing tool for determining which foods you should eat or those you'd be better off avoiding.