Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Portability and elasticity

Have you even noticed that when you are eating a gluten-free sandwich, you are usually holding it nervously with two hands lest it falls apart? Or that you eat most gluten-free pizza with a knife and fork?

Portability is a huge issue for celiacs. Gluten -- the stuff we avoid -- is the ingredient in dough that gives it that wonderful elastic quality. When you take a slice of Wonder Bread and squeeze it into a nice ball, that's the gluten at work. Take a slice of gluten-free bread and try the same thing. It crumbles in your hand, right? Because there's no gluten in it.

That's also why so many gluten-free breads are so darn heavy and contain more calories. A slice of glutenous bread will hold it's shape in a sandwich because of the elasticity that the gluten brings. But in order for a slice of gf bread to keep it's shape, it has to bulk up to an almost brick-like density.

And what this means is that when you are on a gluten-free diet, there are less foods available to you that "travel." Sandwiches and pizza are popular American foods because you can eat them with one hand while you do a variety of other activities. Gluten-free foods aren't just a bitch to prepare, they are also harder to eat on-the-go. Ever since I started avoiding gluten, a lot of what I eat requires a knife and fork and for me to actually sit down. That wonderful rice dish I made last night with chicken and vegetables cannot be consumed while I run down the street on my way to the subway with my cell phone in my other hand.

But maybe that's a good thing. One of the reasons the French are so much healthier (OK, thinner) than Americans despite the fact that they consume all sorts of "no-nos" such as foie gras, wine and cheese, is because they take their mealtimes seriously. They don't eat on the go. They sit down for proper meals and don't snack in between them. When I went gluten-free, I immediately lost twenty pounds. A lot of people thought that my weight loss was due to the fact that I was eating less carbs as a result of the gf diet. But I was eating plenty of carbs: potatoes, rice, gf pasta, sugar, etc. What I wasn't eating were portable foods like sandwiches and pizza. I was cooking for myself more and sitting down to eat what I made.

Something to think about...

1 comment:

  1. I like to make "flat sandwiches" using corn tortillas.. Toast them first and put whatever you want inside! USe a lot of condiments so they stay moist. I like smearing avocado on ones side. Then wrap it in foil and take it to work! Everone will be jealous of your flying saucer sandwich.