Friday, October 31, 2014

SAFE and UNSAFE Gluten-Free Candies for Halloween 2014 and other sweet times

I found a great list last week of both SAFE and UNSAFE candy for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.  (Remember, people with celiac disease must eliminate all foods that contain wheat, barley, rye, and products made from these grains. If they do not strictly avoid gluten-containing foods, long-term malnutrition could result due to damaged villi in the intestines).

But first, there is one rule of thumb to use if you are new to this gluten-free thing: You can’t tell if a food has gluten just by looking. And that means looking at the ingredient list, too. My illustration above of Brach’s candy corn, one of my once-a-year treats for fall, is to show that even though the ingredient list does not list a gluten-containing food, the statement below the ingredient list tells the real story (“This product was manufactured in a facility where milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy are used in the production of other products”).

Here are a few candies that caught my eye (there were way more listed):

SAFE Candy for Celiac and Gluten-Free: 
  • 3 Musketeers fun size
  • Almond Joy fun size
  • Baby Ruth
  • Bit-O-Honey
  • Butterfinger original
  • Haribo Gold-Bears
  • Jelly Belly beans
  • Jolly Rancher hard candy
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Lemonheads
  • M&Ms original
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Snickers
  • Swedish Fish
  • York Peppermint Patties 

UNSAFE Candy for Celiac and Gluten-Free

  • Anything from Brach’s (candies are manufactured in a facility where wheat-containing candies are made, which means the candy could be cross-contaminated with wheat).
  • Red Vines
  • Trolli Gummi Bears
  • Ferrero Rocher Chocolates
  • Kit Kat
  • Whoppers
  • Twizzlers
  • Milky Way (contains barley malt)
  • Butterfinger Crisp or Stixx (contains wheat flour)

Click Here for the complete list of Yes and No candies for people following a gluten-free diet, compiled by Jefferson Adams at  While you’re at it, you can sign up for their newsletter to find out the latest on gluten-free foods and research.

And spoiler alert (sorry, I have to say this): Even if a candy is gluten-free, it’s still candy! Don’t go wild with it or the calories will come back to haunt you!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Omega 3 Fats are Essential

One good way to get essential Omega-3 fats.

I don't know about you, but the topic of fats can be downright confusing and difficult to keep straight. Between trying to keep the good and bad fats separated, then adding in omega 3 fats, omega 6 fats, etc., it can be easy to get off track.

One thing I like about my job is that I get to continually research answers to questions that come up regarding various patients.  For example, an endocrinologist I work with sent me a patient with "essential fatty acid deficiency". This is not a common diagnosis, so I was not sure exactly what I needed to for this person. To complicate matters, he had undergone gastrointestinal surgery 5 years ago, which can cause malabsorption of many different nutrients. The doctor checked for nutrient deficiency, along with fatty acids, because this person was complaining of being foggy-brained (at less than 40 years old), among other issues.

After taking a diet history, and a bit of research, we determined that even though he was getting fat in his diet, he was never choosing the essential fatty acids, which are the omega 3 fats. His task for the next two months (when more blood will be drawn) is to eat 10-15 walnut halves daily, salmon at least 1-2 times a week, and add ground flax seed to his yogurt 2 or 3 times a week.  We will see in late November whether adding these good fats will make a difference.

Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that are proving to be especially beneficial to your brain (such as memory and depression).  They also are beneficial for heart health, can ease inflammatory conditions (certain types of arthritis, joint pain and skin flare-ups), and are helpful in pregnancy.

Omega 3 fatty acids come in a few types:
EPA and DHA (found in cold water fatty fish such as salmon, herring mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and are the omega 3 fats that have been studied the most.)
ALA (found in plants, and is considered a less potent from of omega-3 than EPA and DHA; good sources include walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil.)

How much does the average person need? The American Heart Association guidelines recommends 1000 to 3000 milligrams a day of EPA and DHA.  (If you ate one of the salmon patties pictured above, you'd be covered.)

A good guide to help you learn more about various fats is from (Choosing Healthy Fats).