Thursday, May 26, 2016

20 Hidden Gluten Traps

Gluten ahead, celiac disease patients

Hidden Gluten TrapsLuckily, I do not have any food allergies. I eat gluten (in moderation, whole grain and organic whenever possible) - bread plays a significant role in the European kitchen. 

But once you have celiac disease you will have to stay away from gluten for the rest of your life. It is not always obvious that products contain gluten. 

Many arguments why we all should not eat gluten are in this article HERE

I bet you did know many items from the 20 products below actually contain gluten: 

  1. Potato products
    Potatoes are gluten free. But they are mixed into many ready-made potato pancakes, croquettes, and such contain flour or other ingredients that contain gluten.

    That applies to french fries as well. In fast food restaurants, other gluten containing foods might have been fried in the oil even should (which most of the time is not the case) the fries are gluten free. Often fries are powdered with flour to make them more crispy.

    Potato Chips
    Sorry...I know it hurts, I can feel your pain. There are even three sources when it comes to chips: spice mixes, gluten as aroma enhancer, or the product gets powdered for crispiness.
  2. Roasted onions
    We are not talking about the battered kind where it is evident. Un-battered roasted onions are powdered with flour as well on order to make them more crispy.
  3. Fruit yogurt and light products
    Surprised? Fruits are gluten-free, and natural yogurt is gluten free as well. The conclusion could be that fruit yogurt is gluten free as well. Wrong. Anything labeled "fruit preparation" (or similar) will likely contain gluten. It´s used as a helper and binding agent for its ability to bind water and keep the product smooth.
  4. Cream cheese with herbs
    The cream cheese itself is gluten free. But ready made cream cheese with herbs or other flavors often contains gluten a) in the form of spice mixes and b) as "glue". Especially in light products you should read the ingredient list carefully if you want to be sure that it does not contain gluten.
  5. Hazelnut spread/Nougat cream
    Sweet spreads can contain gluten when barley malt is used as a sweetener. Also, flavorings can contain gluten. The same applies to other candy and sweets.
  6. Spice mixes
    Sometimes gluten has been added to enhance the flavor - sometimes flour has been added to keep the product from clumping.
  7. Ketchup and sauces
    Unless marked gluten free spicy sauces, salsa & co. are the next suspect. Gluten is a cheap stabilizer. There are other options, but gluten is the cheapest so that it´s commonly found in ketchup & co.
  8. Sushi
    One would think one is safe when eating sushi, right? NOPE. The soy sauce contains gluten in nearly all cases. Gluten-free soy sauce is hard to come across and even harder to come across in restaurants and take-outs. Tamari sauce is a good alternative. And if you are like me: With enough wasabi soy sauce becomes irrelevant.
  9. Stock cubes, stock fond, bullion.
    That probably does not come as a surprise. Most of the time producers mark the products as "can contain gluten" or "contains gluten" for legal reasons.
  10. Ice cream
    Sadly, gluten is not just added to sauces but also to ice cream. Celiac disease patients should only buy their ice in supermarkets where they can view the list of ingredients.
  11. Baking powder, dry yeast
    Both products often contain wheat flour.
  12. Dried fruits
    Often contaminated because they are produced in factories that also process gluten foods. But dried fruits are products you should check the ingredients list for other reasons. Added sugar and sulfuric acid are also not our friends.
  13. Sausage and sausage products
    Meat is gluten free. Ham and roast beef are usually risk-free. Any other form of sausage product can and often will contain gluten in the form of spice mixes or cheap fillers. Obviously, any battered meats are to be avoided. But also any marinated meat can contain gluten.
  14. Beer
    Oh, no!!! Yes, it´s true. Some producers offer gluten free beer that´s not made from barley malt or wheat. But I will not lie to you. It takes more patience to get used to than I have. The alternatives are made from rice, soy or millet.
  15. Modeling dough
    If kids cannot tolerate gluten we have to consider more than just the food. Children tend to swallow smallest parts of items and take things into their mouth. Often wheat flour is the main ingredient in the modelling dough.
  16. Bubble bath & co.
    Because they are not used internally, they are risk-free for grown-ups. But, similar to the modelling dough, the problem with kids is that they will likely swallow tiny bits of the product so that parents should go for gluten free alternatives.
  17. Toothpaste
    The problem with toothpaste is that it is hard to find out if it contains gluten or not. Producers hide behind Latin names: Triticum aeastivum, Triticum Vulgare, and Triticum turgidum are Latin names for wheat. Triticum spelta = spelt; Hordeum vulgare =  barley, Avena sativa (or Avena strigosa) = oat; secale cereale = rye.
  18. Lipstick, lip care
    We swallow part of whatever we put on our lips. Check for hidden gluten (Latin names under 17.)
  19. Tablets/pills
    Wheat starch is often used in tablets and pills. Some vendors use corn starch - it´s best to inform your doctor upfront so that he can choose appropriate products.
  20. Lentils
    Lentils are gluten free. But most of the time they are grown in mixed cultures so that they can be contaminated. 
More health and nutrition related articles HERE

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

True Cost Accounting of Food Production

The true price of cheap food

Food is dirt cheap. To be exact: it is too cheap. The real costs are way higher than the prices we pay in supermarkets and at discounters.

The ones paying the bill are our environment and people that are being exploited for the cheap production of food.
True Cost Accounting of Food Production
True cost accounting is a trend I like for once. Do you remember my article "Why our food is too cheap"? If not just follow the link because it contains lots of detailled info on the subject.

Weekend - Cheap end

The weekend is approaching, and supermarkets are outdoing each other with discount prices. A pack of tortillas for 0.25 cent, three cucumbers for a dollar, Avocados? 49 cent a piece at the Jewel. How about Walmart? I boycott this store for so many years that I would not know ...

Who thinks that conventional agriculture could produce food at this prices is wrong. Selling an avocado for 49 cents cannot work. Growing the avocado has caused costs that we do not find in the end price. That is ignoring the cost of sales, rent for the store, salaries, transportation costs, marketing costs, etc.

Polluted waters - leached lands

A new movement that has also been picked up by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) wants to inform and raise awareness of the true costs of food. 

True cost accounting includes costs for the production that until now do not appear anywhere:
  • Over-exploitation of land
  • Pollution of waters
  • Extinction of plants and animal species
  • Climate changes
  • Social exploitation
These costs are not reflected in the price we pay at the checkout. Regarding to the FAO, the yearly costs for environmental damages sum up to 2100 billion dollars, the costs for social exploitation even to 2700 billion dollars. 
Environmental Damage

Consumers do pay the price of conventional food production eventually. 

Conventional agriculture does not add social and ecological costs into the prices people pay at the checkout. 

Organic Food is All Inclusive

Organic food production does not impose these costs on the people or the environment. Different cultivation practices address pollution. They bind greenhouse gasses as they grow and practice a mostly responsible handling of individuals and animals. 

That is expensive. And we pay these costs at the supermarket register. In short: 

Organic includes the cost actual cost of producing food - conventional agriculture does not. 

Organic is not expensive - Conventional is cheap

The reality of things is that conventional food is too cheap. And dishonest. We all will pay the price at one point. 

Organic or not

We as consumers make the call. To raise awareness for the problem, Nature & More has calculated the true costs of a few foods. You can read all about that on their WEBSITE.

It´s not easy to calculate the real cost of food production. How do you put a number on the exploitation of people and environment? How do you calculate the follow-up costs? Not all costs for the society are as transparent as the public cost of welfare for Walmart employees (that by the way amounted to 6.2 billion dollars in 2014.) 

By an FAO report, Nature & More was able to create a model that allows the calculation of the true cost of food. 

I recently had another discussion with someone about the price of organic eggs. My conversation partner claimed he could not afford them. The amazing thing is that he spends tons of money. Every day he grabs his coffee from Starbucks (that´s a pack of organic eggs per day), he pays $ 189 per month to Comcast for his TV bundle and so on. 

Really? And you cannot afford $ 3 extra for healthy eggs? Like is the exploitation of people and destruction of our environment and your health not more important than watching King of Thrones?

We all make our choices. And then we have to live with the choices we made - and with ourselves. 

Check out all of my articles about health and nutrition HERE

Friday, May 20, 2016

Stay True To Yourself A**hole?

Keep it real?

"Stay true to yourself" is great advice. Or not?
Stay true to yourself a**hole

Does that apply to stalkers, child molesters, psychopaths, sociopaths, liars, intriguers, thieves, drug dealers?


Are liars, intriguers and thieves aware that they are scheming and fraudulent? Or do they put lipstick on the pig and convince themselves that they have legit reasons for being unsocial and who they are?

Blind spots, sick people, the mean world and even meaner circumstances and such ... they always find someone else to blame. They might break into your house or your computer .. but whatever they take - they never take responsibility for their actions.

Well, if these unpleasant people do not realize that they are unsocial, yucky people ... do I know I am not one of them?

If unpleasant people sugarcoat the reality of who they are to themselves, then I would do that too, wouldn´t I? And maybe I too would not even realize that I am an a**hole.


"Be yourself. Be true to yourself." Maybe that advice is not great after all. Some people would be better advised to change and not be anything like themselves.

Other people might warp too much in their attempt to comply and be liked.

Therefore, I am changing and re-wording my advice:

Be yourself as much as it is right for you and those around you. And change if you do not make your life and the life of your loved ones better.

Podcast, Project Phoenix Emotional Intelligence Training

Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Guten Tag, meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren (;

Quick update:

A new podcast episode is out (available on iTunes and Google play but it takes about 2 days longer until they updated my podcast)

Project Phoenix EQ Training Update:

This Saturday we will learn about the default state of the brain. And how it matters to your happiness, career and quality of life.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Short Life and Long Death of Hector Garcia

The price of obesity

The tragic and short life of Hector Garcia

During his bad times, Hector´s weight was around 650 pounds. In better times it was 425.
The price of obesity

Thanks to Lisa Krantz for the documentary this article is based on. 

His nursery became his jail

Ten years before he died Hector Garcia hid from the world in his playroom. He was 39 years old and his weight was nearly 665 pounds. He could not live alone anymore. His weight burdened his bones so much that every step was a risk of breaking his bones. How could it get to this? Hector Garcia said: "I never learned to be happy other than when I eat."

Many people judged the life of Texan Hector Garcia. They ridiculed him. "Even as a small boy everyone just called me hamburger.", he said. He knew that people talked about him, laughed at him and made faces. 

At a job interview, the boss without a word crumpled his application and threw it in the trash. Experiences like this have broken him, said Lisa Krantz. He wanted her to document his life. "I hope I am the deterrent."

His knees were damaged. The weight of his body forced his legs into an unnatural O position. His risk of diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disorders was huge. People like Hector Garcia rarely get old. 

"Food never treated me badly. I am addicted."

His soul suffered at least as much as his body. "Obesity takes away your dignity", he told Lisa Krantz. "For many I am just the lazy slacker without self-discipline."

The truth was more complicated. The more he gained the deeper he fell into depression. He only knew one remedy. "Food never treated me badly, it was never mean to me. I am addicted." All of his five siblings are too heavy, his mom and dad too. Probably a genetic disposition. But only the lack of education and poverty made it his fate. 

Garcia, who would have loved to become a priest, said about his mother Elena: "She did not know what she was doing to us. She gave us all she had." Only the cheapest entered the table. Beans, rice, pasta - all cooked in lard. 

Garcia received a gastric bypass when he was in his 30ties. The insurance paid for the surgery. But they did not pay for therapy and support that could have helped him to change his unhealthy eating behavior. 

He still lost nearly 400 pounds. Shortly after his sister Tessa died from cancer. He stuffed himself with the only comfort he knew. Bad food. He lost his job, his insurance and when he moved back to his children´s room also his independence. His mother became his nurse. 

Early in 2011, he plucked up the courage to try once more. "Failure is not an option", he said. A doctor was willing to implant artificial knee joints if he lost weight. The 600 pounds colossus started to work out. 

With a handcycle from his couch at first. Later he went to a public pool. He never gave up - even when he hardly could leave the basin and had to crawl over the ground in front of all of the other pool guests. Lisa Krantz said: "It was the most humiliating moment of his life but he wanted to be photographed like that."

Once more he lost over 300 pounds. Who knew him back then thought he was happy. Whenever possible his relatives visited him. He used to laugh a lot and spoke about the future with a wife and children. 

Chicken McNuggets were his comfort

The surgery happened in the summer of 2012. But instead of relief Garcia suffered severe consequences. Two additional surgeries tried to address this. Even after months of rehab he could walk less than before. With 20-packs of Chicken McNuggets, he tried to soothe his depression. Within 24 months, he was nearly back to his old weight. He had trouble breathing but did not want to see a doctor anymore. 

He gave up. 

"It´s hard to fight for a life that is merely an existence. That´s not enough for me."

40 steps killed Hector Garcia. The distance from his playroom to the door when he tried to answer the door. He collapsed in front of his mother at age 49. His last words "I cannot breath". 

I don´t know how you feel when you read this - I have to take a break and recover before I can continue writing this article. 

My state of mind while writing this article is one of shame. I feel embarrassed because we often lack even the slightest bit of compassion, empathy, and humanity.
  • We fail to acknowledge obesity as the disease that it is and increase the suffering of obese people further by ridiculing them. 
  • As one of the richest countries on earth, we fail to offer people in need support. 
  • Ignoring scientific facts that clearly suggest otherwise we continue to accuse obese people of a lack of willpower. 
My state of mind is also madness. I am mad that a government regulates which trash can I am allowed to put which trash in and where I am authorized to smoke; benefits from, tolerates and allows all sorts of toxic, brain damaging substances.

How can companies like Kelloggs & Co legally market their poisonous products to children?

Who is to blame if people become obese, get Diabetes, Alzheimer, ADHD ....

The temptation is all around us. 90 % of "food" in supermarkets is unhealthy. How can that even be? Product advertisements suggest if we love our kids we feed them stuff that leads to sugar addiction and all the health scares related to it. Chemical substances that are proven to damage our brain and every organ of our bodies are cleared by the FDA.

On a church bake sale in the name of the Lord or in the name of Ronald McDonald: Unhealthy and even dangerous choices are all around us, 24/7.

Some blame a lack of education. Well, it´s true that most people are not aware of what is healthy food. But I am sure it is not right that we need a ton of knowledge to uncover all of the ways greedy companies are tricking us.

Should I have to learn over 50 expressions for sugar? Or what words "the industry" uses to hide MSG? Should I have to question every expression to know that "natural" does not mean natural and can mean GMO and what-not; and "no fat" probably means tons of sugar? I don´t think so!

Labels on nearly every electronic item I purchased in the States warn of even the most ridiculous health scares. "Don´t swallow the shower curtain." "Don´t dry your cat in the microwave." Does that mean the UL cares more about the people than the FDA? Or does it just mean that manufacturers of electronic devices are easier to sue?

How do you prove it was those additives in Kelloggs Fruit Loops or diet soda which gave your kid ADHD.

What frustrates me is that I have written a lot of posts with valuable information that would allow people to learn and change their mind about nutrition. Many people read it. But they are only the ones who share my point of view to start with. I fail to reach people who would need this information to increase their quality of life.

Sugar, additives, MSG´s & co. lead to addiction. The changes in the brain are similar to those in the brains of other drug addicts.

The only way to start a diet is in your brain.

Please, if you know someone who is suffering from obesity or are overweight/obese yourself: Follow the links in this article, sign up for this brain training and have a look at my related articles HERE