Hello! I’ve missed you!!! The weeks have both flown by and dragged interminably. Today’s post is about discussions of gluten-free food in the media and the real issues. But first a quick pregnancy update! I am swelling at an alarming rate and feel fit to pop! It’s all happening! I must admit I have been struggling at times this month, my type 1 diabetes went completely BESERK (I love that word), which is part of the pregnancy for me at this stage. My back has been a psycho bitch from hell and I am trying to reject it’s influence. There has been a lot of grimmacing, drinking of roobois chai tea, eating (of too many biscuits…), getting to the (copious and lengthy) hospital appointments, and watching of ITV detective dramas from the 80’s and 90’s (I ♥ P.D James!!!), and WSOP 2016 (go Kassouf, 9 high like a boss! ha!), and the Great British Bake Off, religiously, and Dynasty, from the beginning… and… generally coping, treasuring the moments to treasure and recovering in time for the next assault on my sanity, from which I rise like a phoenix (fat grouse?) from the ashes! It is a time full of wonder, fear, hope, grit, letting go and pushing forwards. A time of growth. And the main and most precious thing is that the baby is perfectly healthy and well. I will love and nourish her entire being whatever she has to cope with in this life that goes without saying, but
As for me I am taking it day by day. My main focus is controlling my diabetes and keeping positive, bonding with the baby and driving forwards towards getting everything ready for when She comes. The house. Me, in every dimension. Us. Wow.
But the focus of today’s post is talking about gluten-free food. I heard a Radio 4 Women’s Hour section on ‘gluten-free’ that really ‘got my goat’ (what happen’s when your goat gets got? They can be quite bad tempered, maybe they head butt you…). Often the discussion of such topics in mainstream journalism frustrates me. Narratives of issues are more often than not expressed by individuals with singular professional agendas, predictably middle/ upper-middle class (yes, class distinctions can be, and should be, mercilessly picked apart, but still, in this context it is all too relevant), educated, dare I say blinkered, and frequently smugly so, (which is, unfortunately so often what a ‘good’ education gives). Rarely are any issues discussed in any way properly in any depth, representing reality, truth, diversity of opinion and experience. All too often there is the sound-bite, the loudest voice, the assertion of (what is represented as) common-sense. This has it’s place, within a decent representation and so exploration of reality. But there is no exploration, just a self-important voice. And that is irresponsible. I dare-say it is ‘the system’ at fault as much as anything, and that those willing to conform are those likely to get ahead within it. But it leaves little room for exploring truth.
I know the media machine needs current themes. Such as gluten-free. The trend. Why are people doing it? Is it always healthy? And it should be asked. Only these are not the questions truly asked are they. A judgement is stamped, a pseudo-feisty but really opportunistic and self-serving stance is taken. It’s okay to be coeliac and avoid gluten (oh thanks, that’s really kind of you, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief then…) but otherwise it is a fad, a silliness, a bunch of silly, wishy-washy – ‘unlike ‘us’ we’re no nonsense here’ – people (i.e. women) with presumably more money than sense, falling for a commercial fad (though do they really care about it being commercial? No that’s not it at all. It is just the satisfaction of pointing the finger that they seem to enjoy and get success from).
but it is not just coeliacs that are intolerant to gluten.
Many people are intolerant to gluten to different degrees and severity of symptoms. Gluten is inflammatory and so those with inflammatory health issues like arthritis and fybromyalgia can greatly benefit from including cutting out gluten in an anti-inflammatory diet. Also you can be a latent coeliac, and be intolerant to gluten and not expressing symptoms properly or at all for many years, until it is too late and much damage is done to your digestive system, along with other complications, as was most likely the case for me. This is a really important issue that none talks about, it is so common and devastating to health, causing the triggering of multiple other autoimmune conditions and related health issues. (Check out my page on whether to go gluten-free or not. It’s just a small discussion and I try to hit home the real issues and relevant points. I’d love to hear your comments and start a discussion, it’s important.)
Such facts are over-looked, it does not serve the narrative, the drama, the chosen stance, the limited time-frame. What a missed opportunity to really grapple with a subject. In this particular ‘discussion’, there was no mention of refined gluten vs. whole grains. Of choosing ancient grains such as spelt, rye or kamut over the more inflammatory modern wheat, especially white flour. Of why refined gluten is an irritant and highly inflammatory for many (and lacking in nutritional value for all, on how it is high on the glyceimic index, bad for type 2 diabetics and those who are overweight or struggling with their weight, for those with digestive issues), why there is such an increase in various gluten intolerance, connected at its worst to autoimmune disease, which are on the rise also in their many forms. These are the real issues, and they are so incredibly important for us to discuss, and for the issues to be clear of opportunistic prejudice which just pollutes the discussion and our perspective, for a discussion to be had which is open for everyone to learn from and so enabling us all to make clearer decisions on our food choices. It wasn’t so long ago that even coeliac disease was frowned upon and disparaged. When one felt thought of as a phony (oh how people like to make each other feel like a phony, especially over health conditions that they cannot (be bothered to develop the capacity to) understand. This is something I still live with). And so it was made socially awkward to ask for things to be gluten-free, let alone kick up a fuss about the kitchen arrangements and cross-contamination there. Why do we so want to suppress each other and look down on each others choices and realities?
why is difference so hard to embrace with an open mind?
So often this is the case. A good, honest, dare I say caring debate or conversation could be had, real issues raised, real things learned and real voices heard. But so often this is not the agenda, neither collectively or individually. It is frustrating. It is self-serving. It is ignorant. It is a reason to tune out. And if we are talking about women’s issues such is the theme of Woman’s Hour (which I am not trashing in its entirety as I do often enjoy it), then this issue is very relevant. So often women’s choices are disparaged as being illogical, women as easily influenced and irrational. This is an old narrative and a very real one, one that can be perpetuated by both men and women.
As for the great gluten-free debate.
let’s talk about it, hear each other’s voices and share experience.
Let’s not try to make people who are intolerant of gluten, or who don’t like to eat refined and modified foods, feel crap, to be marginalised and judged. That’s childish, limited and pointless. Question your true agenda, and that which you are mindlessly hawking which is so often what we all do in this life. We have to be constantly on guard as to why we are reacting a certain way and how we are affecting others.
If we kept things simple in this life and came at everything with an open heart and mind, we could all learn and grow together and this world would be a better place, right? And health is so important, striving for health is noble, as is striving for education on an issue. Not everyone needs to avoid gluten, but everyone would be better off eating whole foods over refined foods, and learning to listen to their bodies individual needs, which often change. And avoiding gluten-free foods is not part of a dysfunctional relationship to food. It’s not about starving yourself of carbohydrates or eating courgette spaghetti instead of a filling meal. Nor is it about expensive and processed alternatives to gluten containing foods that we find in the free-from sections of supermarkets. Gluten-free food is not only for those avoiding gluten for health reasons, it’s good food for everyone. Gluten-free is a label, albeit a useful one for many, including myself. Here’s to food. People who aren’t intolerant to gluten enjoy gluten-free food, around the world, it’s food. Eat what’s good and healthy and makes you feel well. Today’s recipe for sweet potato chana daal with a millet and gram pancake is also grain-free nightshade-free and soya-free (shoot me), which benefits many people’s health and is as delicious as food containing those ingredients. Let’s make it healthy and delicious and share it with love.
good wholesome hearty food for autumn and winter to make us feel good and keep us nourished and happy.
And on cue, hearty is today’s culinary theme. Perfect for autumn as the weather cools and dampens and you need something to fill you up and give you a hug. A delicious, hearty meal, enjoyable to cook, tasting great and full of filling protein, sustaining nutrients, goodness, vibrancy and comfort. Good food for the family, food to make a large pan of and to eat the next day too. Which I have to say is my favourite. Oh and it’s gluten free!
- 1 1/2 cups chickpeas
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 2 medium sweet potatoes/ 400g cooked sweet potato (I used baked)
- 150g fresh spinach, thereabouts, if using tinned more in weight
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- Curry leaves, about 20
- 2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black salt, optional but v good
- 3 tsp ground peppercorns, black or mixed
- 3 tbsp lime juice, more to refresh
- Fresh coriander leaf to garnish
- 3/4 cup gram flour
- 1/2 cup millet flour/ flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp bicarb
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil per pancake
SONG OF THE WEEK Reef ‘Come Back Brighter’
p.s. I felt the baby kick last night (we’re talking karate kid here, which was so funny because Dan was playing Street Fighter. He was delighted!)!!!! I have a live thing wriggling inside me I’m going to have to select Halloween viewing very carefully!!!!!