First and foremost, I love Gluten Dude. His blog and representation in the celiac community is huge and invaluable. He’s an asset in the blogger community and is a great support for those navigating their disease. This isn’t about disagreeing with him. It’s simply my perspective.
Three days ago, Gluten Dude posted a exhort to the blogging community in relation to why people are celebrating Gluten Free Cheerios. Many of the gluten free bloggers received free samples and some may even have gotten paid for their articles. See Gluten Dude’s original post here: Why Are We Celebrating Gluten Free Cheerios?
He continues his exhort by mentioning that we should not stand for subpar processing and an organization’s unwillingness to take a full step in the direction of gluten free. We should matter more. And while I agree with him, my MBA education kicks in and I can see the General Mills side of things. The celiac percentage of the gluten free market is likely small in comparison with the market of gluten free fad dieters that care nothing for FDA guidelines, care nothing for ppm requirements, and care nothing for how things are processed – just that the title of “gluten free” is there. For General Mills, celiacs were already not buying Cheerios and adding us into the market may simply not have been economically worth the extra effort when they could more easily get a “piece of the pie” so to speak. The value of the Gluten Free Market is only expected to grow… in some ways, we knew that hurt us already. It’s made our market more convoluted. In some ways, it’s helped us in it’s addition of a plethora of products we never would have been able to find in the grocery store even 5-10 years ago.
Does any of this excuse General Mills? Not at all. The blatant ignorance of a whole group of people that could be benefited by a true “gluten free” is simply rude. Is it Business? Absolutely.
At this moment in time, we have a box of gluten free Cheerios in the house. My husband loves them. He eats more breakfast now than he has in awhile. Do I think it’s a hearty and wonderful breakfast? No… more recent studies suggest that breakfast hearty in proteins & fats – and not sugary carbs do more for you and for your metabolism. He doesn’t have any of his usual glutened symptoms and somewhere, in my head, I think him eating breakfast at all is better than not at all. Especially since, in his stubborn German way, I can’t get the boy to eat a warm breakfast any time other than Saturday. Do I think I’m sabotaging the whole celiac community? I sure hope not and I don’t think I am.
At some point in my own diagnosis, I realized there has to be some sort of balance – to know myself and to know myself within the limits of my celiac disease… but to also not let that be the end all and be all of my life enjoyment. Every time we go out to eat, we recognize that we are taking a risk. We are risking illness. Every single time, we put our well being into the hands of servers and cook staff. Some that get very irritated with our requests and concerns. As customers, we have a right to ask for it – for a gluten free dish. We don’t always get it but we certainly have the right. The same here — let’s stand and demand higher standards from General Mills. Report the illnesses and demand a truly gluten free cereal.
I simply worry that we ostracize parts of the community when we set community expectations as well – figuring out our celiac disease is a process. Figuring out how we get well is a process. I tried it for two days — they were tasty, I won’t lie… but my stomach was jumping around inside. My last gluten exposure made me take a hard look at my diet and drag out my food allergies list from 2013. The list is long… and this past week, I said I’m done. I’m cutting out processed sugar. Avoiding nuts and all the other allergens. Eating clean. I’m tired of not knowing why I’m nauseated some days and I want to feel better. My husband? He isn’t there — but as I do most of the cooking, he’s going to eat better too when I cook. The whole pack of Starbursts that he ate yesterday? Well, that’s a different problem.
In reality, so many of our gluten free substitutes aren’t healthy. Starbursts are gluten free and have 8.25 teaspoons of sugar in a pack. The daily recommended levels of sugar a day? 9 teaspoons for men and 6 for women. This is added sugars, FYI. Go figure. To compensate for the gluten free flavor, things are getting loaded with sugar. They’re becoming more processed. We’ve lost our taste for natural food and we want to compare our products to the regular market.
Everyone is always surprised when gluten free doesn’t “taste” gluten free.
Commercialism may not make us better. The pursuit of money doesn’t make us better. What we do with that though, as individuals with celiac disease, is as individual as our own diagnosis story. We have to do what is right for us — and hopefully, right for the whole community in the process.
Read More Stories on Gluten Free Cheerios
From I’m A Celiac – Are Gluten Free Cheerios Safe?
From Gluten Free Baking – Review of Gluten Free Honey Nut Cheerios
Please, please – if you try the Cheerios and have a reaction, submit them to Gluten Free Watch Dog for FDA reporting.