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Should You Be Eating Gluten Free?
Theresa Albert

Hands up if you know someone who has gone ‘gluten free’ and you rolled your eyes. I know I... more

is it better to eat gluten free
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Hands up if you know someone who has gone ‘gluten free’ and you rolled your eyes. I know I have. The gluten-free craze has swept us off our feet and right onto our heads, causing confusion and misinformation. The Celiac Awareness Foundation estimates that only 1% of the population is truly celiac, requiring complete abstinence from all sources of gluten. An additional 6-9% may have a gluten intolerance that causes digestive upset and a host of other issues.  The rest of us are just eating too much, eating too much wheat, have a system that is out of PH balance, are low digestive enzymes or other health related dietary issues. And the discomforts are all real but they are not gluten’s fault.

Here is the problem with ‘going gluten free’. Removing gluten and not choosing better quality food is gets you no further ahead. Products that still use refined white flour from rice or corn or other sources plus sugar are no better for you than their gluten containing brethren.  They are only necessary if you truly can’t digest the gluten.

But there is a big ‘however’ here. Some gluten-free products are actually crafted with better ingredients. They are intended for an improved diet of whole healthy foods. Indeed, they serve the need of the 10% but they also feed the rest of us better. Here are a few that I have worked with and recommended.

Frozen Meal Pick: Antipasto’s Kitchen
GK Skinny Pasta is sold under the name ‘Antipasto’s Kitchen’ in Canada and found in the freezer section. Butternut squash ravioli that Nona would be proud of is a single serve meal that contains high-quality ingredients like crushed tomatoes (first!), squash and egg that all add up to a wholesome vegetarian dish. The more nutrient dense arrowroot flour is used rather than the corn starch that many gluten-free products substitute wheat flour with. It serves up 240 calories for its 5 g of protein and 6 grams of fibre.

Best Breakfast: Qi’a
Qi’a is a superfood intended to be used as a cereal. It contains chia seeds, buckwheat and hemp which are all gluten-free, nutrient-dense foods. This stuff goes with me everywhere and gets sprinkled on or stirred into other foods to enhance whatever I eat for breakfast.  Toss me a yogurt from any corner store and I can be powered up in no time.

Smart Snacking: Que Pasa Organic Blue Corn Chips
Corn is one of the top genetically modified foods on the planet which is a good reason to avoid this naturally gluten-free starch. However, organic corn isn’t modified. And furthermore, organic blue corn contains the same phytonutrients that makes blueberries a powerhouse, anthocyanin. My pick is Que Pasa Organic Blue Corn Chips.

None of these products are slapped with a ‘gluten free’ label to disguise the fact that they are junk that has replaced cheap white flour with cheap rice flour. They are wholesome, delicious foods that happen to be digestible to those with an intolerance.

Theresa is a Food Communications Specialist and Nutritionist. Her French Canadian influences are a part of her 'no bologna' style as everything is on the table...not just the dinner. She has the unique ability to distill complex health concepts into simple, savvy steps to improve any lifestyle choice. Theresa is a sought after media commentator and lifestyle pundit on many topics with a particular fascination with human relationships with food and culture. She has two books published in Canada and the US: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck. She can be found on Twitter as @theresaalbert and at
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talking to teachers
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Teachers do so much for our kids. During school hours, they often see a different child than the one we see at home, and notice both wonderful qualities as well as areas of growth. There will undoubtedly come a time when we may feel the need to speak with the teacher about a problem that our child is experiencing, whether at the teacher’s request or at our own. Here are six tools for making the most of a parent-teacher meeting.

  1. Book time to meet with the teacher. Just before or just after class is not a time when the teacher can give you or the issue at hand the full attention it deserves. While it may feel that your situation is the most important thing in the world, your child’s teacher has 29 other students who need to ask, ‘Just one small thing.’
  2. Remember that in almost all cases, all adults in the parent-teacher meeting want the best for the child. When we hold this to be true, we enter the meeting in a state of hope for a solution rather than in a position where our defensiveness might use up any energy we had for the meeting in the first place.
  3. Make a list before you enter the meeting. For many adults, sitting across the desk from a teacher reminds them of being held after class when they were kids. To be sure that emotions don’t rule the meeting, take some time before you get there to write down the facts and the feelings involved.
  4. Check your facts. There is often more than one truth; and it is worth remembering that a 6-year-old’s version of a story may not be complete. When discussing situations with teachers, a great sentence starter is, ‘The story we heard from Jenny after school yesterday was… Can you please share your point of view?’
  5. Don’t leave without a solution…or at least a plan for a solution. Often parent-teacher meetings are short. Keep track of the time in the meeting and be sure to leave a couple of minutes to determine what the next steps will be.
    • Who is doing what?
    • When will you next be in touch to see how things are working?
    • Who will contact whom? (We suggest that the parent follows up)
    • How will the contact happen? (email, phone, note in the agenda)
  6. Involve your child when possible. Having a bunch of adults discussing a child’s issue without the child may well result in the child taking absolutely no responsibility for the issue. When possible, have the child involved in the meeting and be sure that all adults are clear with the child about each person’s role in the solution, especially the expectations and consequences for the child as you move forward.
Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell provide tools for real life parenting through their company, Parenting Power™. Using over 40 years of combined experience, they work with parents across the country through telephone coaching and teleconferences to ease the stress and guilt of parents while providing practical solutions to everyday parenting challenges. Visit to ask your own parenting questions, and learn how to receive 20% off all services as a Parenting Power Member!
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