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Going Gluten-FreeOctober 26, 2010

Do You Eat Gluten-Free Oats?

 Diagnosed with celiac disease almost six years ago, I consider myself very conservative when it comes to the gluten-free diet. I will turn down anything when I am in doubt about its ingredients or preparation. But lately, I’ve been tempted by oats, something I was trained six years ago to avoid.

Blame it on the nip in the air or on the increasing array of ‘safe’ oats on grocery store shelves these days. By ‘safe’ oats I mean the certified, gluten-free variety. They must be grown on dedicated fields, processed on dedicated equipment and packaged in dedicated gluten-free facilities. They typically carry the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) seal as well.

Most studies seem to conclude that oats are safe for the majority of celiacs. Health Canada says moderate amounts of pure, uncontaminated oats are well tolerated by the majority of individuals with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. The Canadian Celiac Association specifies that adults with celiac can safely consume half to three-quarters of a cup of dry rolled oats per day. For children, it’s one-quarter cup per day. In its proposed regulation on the use of the gluten-free label, the FDA permits oats provided they contain less than 20 ppm gluten.

But the research also says that a small number of patients may still react to oat peptides--reactions that can’t be explained by cross contamination with other grains.

Nervous that I might be in the minority of patients unable to tolerate oats and deterred by their high price, I’ve avoided them for years.

But several weeks ago, my mother-in-law came to visit to help out with my newborn. She brought me a box full of gluten-free foods (is there a better gift for a celiac?), which included some gluten-free oats.

Ever cautious, I decided to run them by my doctor before giving them a try. When I got the green light, I made my first bowl of oatmeal.   

I cooked the oatmeal with milk and a decadent heap of brown sugar. My hand trembled a little bit as I took the first bite--I was still a little anxious! Despite how long it had been, the oatmeal tasted familiar, like a long-lost friend. Comforting and nourishing, it was warm, sustaining, delicious.

As far as I can tell, I haven’t had any reaction, but I’ll be looking out for signs of trouble as I continue to enjoy a bowl of steaming oatmeal on these frosty mornings.

Do you eat gluten-free oats?

Comments (14)

I missed oatmeal at first (diagnosed 18 years ago) but found 2 great hot cereals -- Bob's Red Mills Creamy Brown Rice, and Quinoa Flakes. I make them with soy milk and eat them with applesauce & cinnamon sugar, or raisins & brown sugar, or maybe a few berries.

Posted by: Marie Turner | November 16, 2010 5:53 PM    Report this comment

I use glutenfreeda's instand oatmeal for my almost 2 year old , He and I are gluten Intolerante (i have been all my life, I am currently taking another celiac test (blood) but I dont have much faith in them to be honest so I just stay away from gluten, I also enjoy GIfts Of Nature Gluten Free Oats it makes Baking so much more enjoyable! :0)

Posted by: JoAnna L M | November 15, 2010 3:21 PM    Report this comment

Keep in mind that whether the gluten content of oats or corn is causing damage is a difficult question indeed. We are dealing with autoimmune reactions that may take years to manifest and the target organ can be extremely variable. Some studies show that the intestinal damage from gluten can sometimes only be detected by a scanning electron microscope and is missed for many years when using light microscope techniques. As far as other antibody reactions, some damage is currently only detected by autopsy. The most common antibody reaction outside the intestines is probably to the thyroid. Those blood antibody tests can vary day to day and can be negative even though the damage can be found by invasive analysis. Blood and even stool antibody tests and certainly symptom patterns are not sensitive enough in many cases. One promising test is intestinal production of nitric oxide. In one nitric oxide study about 1/2 of the subjects who were gluten sensitive also reacted to corn. You may or may not be able to safely eats oats and corn. If you don't notice any problems, that is your body saying "maybe". Only time and serious investigation can give you a proper answer.

Posted by: Daniel S | October 31, 2010 2:48 AM    Report this comment

I have been gluten free for three years now and tried gluten free oats about 2 years into being gluten free. I do only eat them occasionally though.

Posted by: Annie B | October 29, 2010 7:02 PM    Report this comment

I was diagnosed with Celiac 14 years ago and have greatly missed oats. I'm not brave enough to cook up a bowl of oatmeal, but twice have tried a GF chip that has a bit of oat bran in it. I'm not completely certain, but I believe I have a problem with it. I will try a 3rd time and also contact the company to be certain their oat ingredients are certified GF. I rejoice with all of you who can enjoy oats again.

Posted by: Lori F | October 29, 2010 12:10 PM    Report this comment

I am recently diagnosed (about two weeks) and was estatic to find gluten-free oats. I have them every single morning.

Before I found gluten-free oats I tried quinoa, which I have had as a side dish before. But my stomach did NOT like eating a big bowl of quinoa in the morning.

Posted by: Amber K | October 28, 2010 6:49 PM    Report this comment

i have a patch of white skin thats extra thin and dry forming on the front of my elbow. i've been eating gluten free oats two to three mornings a week for a year now. and drinking gluten free beer. only ever had gastro issues. any clues?

Posted by: Lynnette F | October 28, 2010 12:18 PM    Report this comment

I have been gluten free for 3 years. Prior to my diagnosis I was eating oatmeal at least 5 times a week. Love it. When I found GF oats I was afraid to even try it .Have now been eating it twice a week, and plan to add it at least one more day. Have used it some in baking.

My 2 year old grandson is really bad, but he can eat GF oatmeal now.

Evelyn Dupree

Posted by: Evelyn D | October 28, 2010 12:05 PM    Report this comment

For those of you who live in places where GF foods are hard to come by, check out Amazon.com. I have been purchasing my bread mixes, all-purpose flours, gluten-free rice mixes, GF pancake mixes, as well as Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats from Amazon for some time now. They have quite a variety! You have to purchase a case (four to six bags/boxes) but the discounts are great! AND, if the product is on (and you sign up for) the Subscribe and Save program, the discounts are even more. (There is no shipping and handling if you purchase $25 worth of eligible products and Subscribe and Save products are always shipped free). As for the oats, I too found myself enjoying oatmeal again without any ill effects for the first time in years and plan to bake some oatmeal cookies and oatmeal bread very soon!

Posted by: Emily Rich | October 28, 2010 11:17 AM    Report this comment

I use oatmeal and was thankful that I could eat something normal. It can be ordered from Saskatchewan, but is expensive. We have a plant that only processes oats in Manitoba and I have been able to use it. I use it in meatloaf and meatballs.

Posted by: Marilyn G | October 28, 2010 9:27 AM    Report this comment

I also use them for making granola, and it's a real treat. I'm lucky that we have a Sprouts market which runs a GF sale about once every quarter giving a 25% discount. I stock up on pastas and grains then. I've tried several granola recipes, including using agave to sweeten.

Posted by: MARIE R | October 28, 2010 8:44 AM    Report this comment

When I was diagnosed in 2003, I had a great doctor who advised me that some celiacs tolerate oats. Oatmeal was such a staple in my breakfast diet, I wanted to continue eating it. So, after I went GF and got my blood work and anemia in order, I started eating both McCann's and Quaker Oats. I had no negative impact either physically or through my blood work so I have been eating oats ever since.

Posted by: Kipster | October 28, 2010 8:43 AM    Report this comment

I, too, am very cautious about what I consume, but I love oatmeal so much that I tried the certified gluten-free oats as soon as I saw them. I haven't had any noticeable reaction, either. I also cook mine in milk, a lifelong habit designed to boost my calcium intake . . . which may not be necessary any longer as I am now absorbing so much calcium that I have had to decrease the amount of supplemental calcium I take. I also make a gluten-free granola with these oats, adding coconut, nuts, gluten-free dried fruits and honey, and my favorite oatmeal-raisin-pecan cookies, using gluten-free flours. They are very expensive in my city, where gluten-free foods are hard to find, but I stock up when I visit cities where gluten-free products are more common and more affordable. Oats can be stored indefinitely in the freezer.

Posted by: Carole | October 28, 2010 8:40 AM    Report this comment

My husband has been on a GF diet for quite a while. At first we were told that oats were off the ok list, but when I found the GF oats (Bob's Red Mill is one - and recently I have found other brands) we tried them. He has been ok with them, and it put some things back on our food list, like oatmeal cookies! He likes oats, too, so was glad when we found these.

Posted by: MARIE R | October 28, 2010 8:36 AM    Report this comment

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