The Internet can be a dangerous thing. Especially for celiacs. Because there hasn't been a huge push in the medical community to educate about the disease, it falls on, well, us to make sure we are doing that. We rely on each other to pass on information, and in the months I have been a part of that community, I have learned that we are a fierce, loyal bunch. But its also really easy to get swept up in false or misinterpreted claims. When I am researching a new food or product, and I head to the Interwebs to find information, I am often innundated with completely conflicting information. And I know that it is all well-intended, and that most celiacs post the things they post to help others avoid pain and illness, but sometimes, it seems like there can be a witch-hunt.
The latest thing I've found being burned at the stake? Oats.
There is a lot of good reason for that. Most commercial oats are, in fact, cross-contaminated in the growth/harvesting/production process. But what about oats that are grown in dedicated fields? When I went to the Gluten Free/Allergy Free Expo in April, a rep from a company selling certified gluten-free oats pretty much slapped the sample out of my hand when I told him I was only a couple months out from my diagnosis. He told me the oats would be fine, once I'd healed for a few months. So I skipped oats. But as fall is rolling in to Chicago, and I am getting bored with my usual breakfasts, I thought maybe it was time to try some GF instant oatmeal. And when I went to do my research, I was astounded by the things I was finding. From every source, I was getting a somewhat different answer. Yes, celiacs can have certified GF oats, but only in small quantities; no, celiacs can never have any oats, ever, because the makeup of oats is too similar to gluten; yes, some celiacs can have oats, but at least 10% of them can NOT tolerate oats in any situation; yes, oats were completely fine, as long as they were consumed while you stand on your head and sing the alphabet song in Spanish. I turned to the source I trust the most for my final answer - the Celiac Disease Center at University of Chicago. And what they said was pretty interesting. And though I firmly believe everyone needs to do what is best for THEIR own bodies, I took a chance and, um, trusted my gut, on this. I tried the oats.
I opted for Glutenfreeda instant oatmeal, and I nabbed the variety pack. So far, so good. I am loving the flavors I've tried so far (the apple and the maple raisin). They heat up to a nice consistency, and you can really make out the flavor. One of my favorite things is the amount the packet makes. When I used to eat the old, regular instant oatmeal, it would take two packets to fill me up. One of the Glutenfreeda packs is enough to keep me satisfied until lunch. Plus, they are small and only require water and a bowl, so they're a nice thing to throw in a desk drawer to keep on hand for last minute or forgotten meals. Plus, they are available at my local Big Box Retailer, and while they are a little pricier than the non-GF stuff I used to buy, I still consider them a value. I think anything that is safe and yummy and can bail me out of a meal planning FAIL is a good investment.
So let this serve double duty, as a warning to take everything you read with a grain of salt (which is gluten free ... for now), and if you are willing to try some oaty goodness, give Glutenfreeda a chance.