What's Eating You? Maybe It's What You're Eating

Diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate. Celiac Disease is on the rise, and food allergies are becoming more and more prevalent.

So, what's going on?

The nation seems to be getting sicker. While genetic predisposition to certain chronic illness is undisputed, there seem to be other factors at play that are making us less healthy - one of which is the food we eat.  ABC news recently reported research indicating that "the same or related E. coli in human infections are being found in retail meat sources, specifically chicken."

Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, and the documentary Food Inc. have all exposed the darker side of our food supply - complete with chemically injected livestock and genetically engineered food. Chipotle's commercial that debuted during the Grammy awards earlier this year served as a poignant reminder of this very issue. With Willie Nelson covering Coldplay's The Scientist, it depicted a farmer who, after feeding his livestock food full of chemicals, opts to return to simple, organic farming.

Having celiac disease, I've experienced first-hand the connection between food and health. Several months ago, I attended a talk from a local physician on celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and the impacts of food allergies on the various systems in our body. It was very interesting, a little scary, and quite informative. He played the following video of Robyn O'Brien, a mother of four and former food industry analyst who has been on a mission to educate others on the link between food allergies and the food industry, which really brings to light issues in our genetically modified food supply.

So, what can we do about it?

Be informed. I've had to learn a lot more about what goes into my food than I ever knew before. Fewer ingredients that I cannot pronounce is generally better because it's less chance for something that might cause an autoimmune reaction. Being informed about what's in our food is a first step towards making better choices.

When first going gluten free, I inadvertently turned towards more organic options, less processed food, and an overall simpler diet. Now, I make a conscience effort to choose wisely when it comes to food that I feed myself and my family. Am I Whole Foods junkie? Definitely not. I'm a working mom trying to feed a family that is always on-the-go....and I still love a gluten free burger and fries. But even with cost and convenience as a priority, healthful food can and should be a must.

 Make little changes to have a big impact. If you haven't already, try cutting out soda. You're waistline, teeth, and blood sugar will thank you for it. Consider buying organic produce. You don't have to buy all organic, but keep in mind those top foods that are the best organic options due to pesticides - even Walmart offers organic produce options. Eat vegetarian for one night a week, or try a new vegetable a week and use it in a recipe. These are just a few examples of small changes you can make starting today that can have a positive impact on your health.

Get involved and get moving. Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama are two champions for getting the nation healthier, through better eating habits and exercise. Jamie's Food Revolution has brought to light the obesity epidemic in this nation, brought on by a diet of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles. He is also taking the food industry to task by asking them to produce better food and label that food in an honest way. Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign focuses on keeping kids active, and helping moms, families, schools, and communities get healthier through better food choices. Let's Move is also helping make healthier food accessible and affordable in lower income areas. You can sign up to help support these campaigns right on the Let's Move website or Jamie Oliver Foundation website.


The old adage "you are what you eat" seems to be more true than ever these days...just a little food for thought to start your week.

 

 

 

 

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    Really liked this article, I especially like now, that listening to Robyn O'Brien, That I live in Canada were we don't allow certain things in our food supply. Very informative. Thanks

  • Robin,
    Glad you enjoyed the article. Please come visit again soon. Yes, the stricter policies in Canada is definitely a good thing.By the way, I'm a big fan of Kinnikinnick Foods and Glutino products!

  • Thanks for the informative and reassuring blog. I say reassuring because I am (still!) in the process of sorting the good, the bad, and the truly ugly and it is daunting. . . plus a bit frightening. One of the ways my body responds when I eat the wrong thing ~gluten and dairy are the worst~ is for my sinuses and eustachian tubes to swell. This in turn affects my balance. Several days ago, I ate something truly ugly and the effects have not completely worn off. Just this morning, I was working in the back garden, tipped a bit too far off center, and landed on my knees. Despite my knowledge, despite my previous experience, this still scares the c___ out of me. Reading your blog gave me a chance to relax, redirect, and remember I am not alone in this challenge.

    Has anyone ever said to you they think they are addicted to gluten and struggled to stay away from it?

    BTW, a word about cat and dog food. . . most are full of gluten. Cats are obligate carnivores and suffer horrible health problems when fed grains. Even though dogs are omnivores, grains are bad for them too. I read the labels on their food as closely as I do mine.

  • @jkatze: You are definitely not alone in this challenge. It is a learning process, but over time, choosing the right foods will become automatic and you be hopefully on your way to feeling better soon. That's funny you mention the pet food. We were feeding our pet goldfish this morning and I noticed "gluten, gluten, gluten" all over the ingredient labeling. Who knew? It's everywhere! I have never personally heard of a gluten addiction, but I've had both doctors and nutritionists tell me that it is not uncommon for your body to crave the things that are not good for it. Before my diagnosis, I was definitely a carb junkie - craving bagels and cereals, unbeknownst to me, laden with something that was making me very ill. Please keep visiting often - I will try to keep the helpful (and sometimes humorous) content coming to help us navigate this world without wheat!

  • Rachel, my father, (your grandfather) was so ahead of the times. Growing up he never allowed soda pop, potato chips, forms of junk food in the house. He was against things made with white flour and consequently frowned on all white breads and bakery products. He always told me mother never skimp on the best foods for the children it will save on doctor's bills., I can remember my mother giving us stewed prunes with a little cream on top for dessert. We thought it was wonderful. He advocated fresh vegetables and wheat germ over our oatmeal cereal. I never developed a taste for pop or chips thanks to him.

  • Wow, Aunt Donna. I never knew he was such a stickler about a good diet. It certainly paid off for all of you - healthy and vibrant in your 70s! Thanks for sharing. I have to say I enjoy eating prunes because of Grandma!

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    Rachel Young

    I've been gluten and dairy free since 2008 and hope to share recipes and resources I've discovered for living with celiac.

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