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?