When a nutritionist friend suggested I try avoiding wheat and gluten to lessen the inflammation of arthritis, I asked the doctor what he thought. He said, "Great idea! And consider avoiding corn and soy as well. Both also contribute to inflammation." Well, I thought, what on earth do I eat? Then, in my own research, I found those who also recommended avoiding the antibiotics and hormones frequently found in dairy products.
Thus began a new era of label-reading. I pretty much knew that packaged meals were out, there was bound to be something there. We didn't eat much of this kind of meal anyway, but it was nice for an emergency when I didn't feel like cooking. About the only thing left is Annie's Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese.
All safe there - the company seems to have a practice of using recipes that have a minimum of additives.
The worst food group: condiments!
After finally giving up on salad dressings, I found I could make my own using our fruit syrups 2/3 to 1/3 apple cider vinegar. And we can experiment by mixing juices for the syrup - for instance apple-strawberry.
Other condiments have proved to be harder and many, such as ketchup, have disappeared from our pantry.
This barb-b-que sauce, marked gluten free, still contains several things to avoid. Technically, the modified food starch may not be corn based, but since corn is the cheapest available, it would be the first suspect. Plus it's modified, another negative. It's never certain what is hidden in the ingredient "natural flavor".
So, reading the labels means more that just checking out if it's "gluten-free".
And another condiment to do without or make your own!
To date I have yet to find a mayonnaise or salad dressing that does not have soybean oil or corn syrup (or both). We used to buy Miracle Whip. Now, don't make faces, I grew up on the stuff and liked it!
After reading every salad dressing/mayonnaise label in the store, I tried making my own. Either I don't have a good recipe or my blender is just too big for the volume I am trying to make but I cannot get it to be the right consistency! Each time I end up adding a bit of xanthan gum to make it thicken.
The adaptation has been to use sour cream mixed with a bit of home-made Italian salad dressing. It works with tuna fish and makes a great tomato salad as well as summer potato or pasta salad.
The last sad battle was ice cream. After again spending time in the grocery store reading every box of ice cream, sherbet, gelato, sobato, Italian ice and probably a few things I had never heard of and wouldn't buy because they cost too much, none seemed to be able to made without soy lecithin. Not just those varieties that included chocolate but all had it. And then some had corn syrup too. The solution here? An ice cream maker attachment that fits the Kitchen Aid mixer! Now I can enjoy my own tasty ice cream, no gluten, no soy, no corn, thank you very much. And it doesn't taste any different so not sure why it's there commercially.
The final bottom line - does all this label reading and do without or do-it-yourself help? Yes, it does, the inflammation is less. Sure, some days my fingers are still sore but that may well be related to the activity level and not what I've eaten. And there are many more good days that bad than there used to be. So, for me, the avoiding is better than the synthetic drug solution.
Oh, happy day!