Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gluten free vs. Wheat free

What's the difference?

I went to Java II, the coffee shop in the OSU Library, yesterday with a colleague. They had gluten free cookies on the counter, and I was naturally excited about that. I got one, and it was really good. I made a comment that this is certainly different than when I started 8 years ago. She said, "Oh, I thought you just started this." It made me realize that announcing that I'm "going gf" gives the impression that this is all new to me. I said that I've been mainly gluten free for more than 8 years now, but that perhaps it's easier to say I've been "wheat free" for 8 years.

So, if I've been doing this for 8 years, why the big deal now about going gf? It's a good question. Here's what I've come up with:

1. If you are gluten free you will, by definition, be wheat free, but if you are wheat free, you don't have to pay as much attention to the other grains with gluten. Thus, it is a higher level of paying attention! Here are typical foods that contain gluten (from
• Barley, including barley malt
• Bran
• Bulgur
• Couscous
• Farina
• Kamut
• Orzo
• Semolina
• Spelt
• Tabbouli
• Wheat
Of this list, the only ones I've eaten over these wheat-free years are barely and spelt.

2. It's an emotional difference. I haven't had to claim the label "gluten free." I have never been or wanted to be a "picky eater," and going completely gf feels like I am committing to be a "problem guest" and calling attention to my dietary restrictions forever. In reality, of course, it is not much different than how I've been for 8 years.

On another note, good news for other Corvallis area gf-ers, I just read that gf cupcakes are coming to the North Store Co-op on Thursday. (see

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