Linda Ballard

Linda Ballard

In a world filled with various diets and the latest fads for weight-loss and body-building, it is common to find serious problems getting tossed in to the mix. Gluten-free products address a real health issue called Celiac disease; much like sugar-free products for diabetes, it has been caught in the confusion of healthy choice or healthy living. Although slowly making its path across restaurant menus the word ‘gluten’ is still a mystery to some.

“Gluten is not an allergy, although many people think it is,” said Jeanie Thompson, who suffers with the illness. “You are not allergic; your body doesn’t handle the gluten. You can’t just go get a shot for it and be done with it. You live with it on a daily basis. Gluten keeps me from absorbing the vitamins and minerals I need for my body to keep on going.

Anything with wheat, rye, barley and oats in it will make me sick. Unless it is made with rice flour, I can eat no breads or pastries.”

Gluten provides no essential nutrients. People with celiac disease have an immune reaction that is triggered by eating gluten. They develop inflammation and damage in their intestinal tracts and other parts of the body when eating gluten. Inadvertently eating gluten can cause hospitalization.

Jeanie was diagnosed with celiac in 2001 and has learned the hard way.

“Many of the doctors don’t get it. I was first told I was just born with gas problems. After diagnosis, even the diagnosticians basically gave me a sheet of paper and said ‘Here, read this.’ It mainly said don’t eat anything with wheat in it. I have found excellent help outside of the medical field and more into nutritionists,” she said. “I don’t eat out much because of cross-contamination. Gluten-free meals can’t be called gluten-free if it has been cooked in the same pan as regular food. It will absorb the wheat from the pans, and iron skillets are the worse at absorbing it. So, out goes mother’s skillets!

“Restaurants in larger cities understand more about the handling of the food. I do love to go to Austin, I can eat there!”

Gluten-free definitely isn’t a fad, says Tim Capps, whose wife, Angie, has also been diagnosed with celiac disease.

“I have actually stood at restaurant counters that claimed gluten-free and watched them bring out food that may have been cooked in a different pan but slid it out on a cutting board that regular food has been on or attempted to serve it beside regular food. I have had to walk away. My wife’s health is very important to me, and I won’t risk it because of cross-contamination.”

Debbie VanDoren, owner of Downtown D’lites, considers multiple diets in her menus.

“Nobody is gluten intolerent in my family,” she said. “I am blessed. All of my kids love bread and they have been eating home-made bread since they were little and I have been baking it since the first day of marriage.  

“Eating gluten free doesn’t mean it is a healthier diet choice, it means your health depends upon it. I have spent countless hours and gone through so many recipes and a lot of research to able to offer gluten-free to my customers. Yes, special pans are a must for baking breads that are not gluten tolerant. The bread doesn’t have the structure as regular bread and I had much difficulty in getting it to rise as large until I discovered Pullman pans. The pans have a lid that helps get it to rise to conformity.”

Debbie gladly shares her research with others.

“Any of my cookies, coffee cakes and baked goods, I use Bob’s Bread Mill One to One as their warehouse is devoted to gluten-free and then I cut back a little on the flour so it won’t be so dry and crumbly.  When ordering, people need to be upfront and tell us of their illness. That way, our kitchen staff knows to use clean gloves, new cutting boards and equipment to be used specifically for them.

All of the restaurant’s soups are gluten-free, too.

“Do not hesitate to inform us of the seriousness of your health problem. We try to address other issues with our food, too, such as vegan and dairy-free. “

Loco Meaux Brew Pub also offers a gluten-free pizza.

“All of our crusts are pre-made, and arrive flat in boxes,” said Ty King. “They come in 75 percent baked. We add the fillings and top off the baking. There is no flour or anything that is airborne that should affect the pizza. We also have a cauliflower crust and vegan cheese that we sell a lot. We sure don’t want to risk their health by not knowing.”

At other restaurants in town, you will see the letter G beside a product indicating gluten-free. They, too, recommend you explain that it is a health issue and not a ‘healthy diet’ choice when ordering.

CHRISTMAS began in August last Saturday as the Shoebox Ministry for Children, part of Operation Christmas Child, was kicked off with a craft day where ladies and family joined to make crafts and start filling boxes with the attempts provide for more children this year. The group of ladies and one gentleman made table spinners, fishing kits and sewing kits among other items and filled 38 boxes during the meeting. Glue, ribbon and lots of giggles took place during the morning and everyone enjoyed a meal afterward at Downtown D’lites.

National collection week is November 18-25 this year. Forest Home Baptist Church is a  local drop-off location. If you are ready to get a head-start and fill your box for the pre-printed boxes and labels can be picked up at the church. For more information you may call Project Leader Kim Gore at 903-987-2857.

May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the week. We may be reached at or 903-984-2593.


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