Day 134: bagel dog and my dysfunctional relationship with food

Today’s menu: bagel dog, fries, fruit cup, ketchup
I was starving by the time lunch came. I had a nice breakfast this morning (eggs, bacon, and carrot/ginger gf pancakes) so I was surprised at how hungry I was.
I walked through the entrance of the cafeteria and it smelled oddly good. I asked one of the lunch ladies what was on the menu and she said, “corn dogs.” I thought, “Alright, a new menu item, going the wrong direction towards processing, but I used to love corn dogs.”
Then she opened up the warming box and out came the bagel dog. Ah, “corn” dogs.
I paid and carried my lunch back to my room thinking, “Well, this is not what I want to eat today.”
I took my first couple pictures and examined the wheat breading of the corn dog. I have not let bread or breading cross my lips all weekend. I tore off the least soggy part of the bread (at the very tip of the bagel dog) and tasted it.
Wheaty. Delicious. Ah, this is what wheat tastes like. I miss it.
You know that I’m hard up for some good wheat when breading tastes amazing to me. As good as I feel eating a low gluten diet, the upkeep is intense. My husband has been incredibly supportive of the gluten-free diet. I do believe Mr. Q is a saint. I’m going to undergo more testing to make sure that I have an issue, because honestly I don’t think I can go pure gf without a certified medical reason. It feels unnecessarily dysfunctional. It’s easy to avoid wheat in the obvious products, but when it’s hidden as fillers? Too challenging and tough on my family. Stay tuned for the results (in a few weeks)!
Did you ever wonder about the lowly hot dog?
I’m listening to the audiobook, “Omnivore’s Dilemma” while commuting to work. The premise is fascinating: Michael Pollan traced the origin of four different meals from fork to the land. In the book Pollan states, “Everything you eat can be traced back to a living thing, even a Twinkie.”
Take a moment.
A Twinkie? Used to be alive? Is it still Halloween? Everything we eat came from a plant or an animal. I feel stupid that this simple statement rocked my world so. I mean, of course we don’t eat inanimate objects, but sometimes it feels like we are eating non-food substances. Um, wait. I am!
After hearing that this morning in the car and then buying my school lunch, I had a hard look at the hot dog. Why is the meat swirled around the center? How is it made? What did the cows and pigs eat which make up that meat? Corn? Is it truly a “corn” dog?
My school lunch’s journey tracing back from my spork to the land is mighty convoluted, no? The processing seems totally overboard. What are we doing here?

The weird beauty of garbage
I think that’s it for the night. I’m wiped out. Looking forward to launching some new features on the blog this month! Look for an announcement soon!
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35 Responses to Day 134: bagel dog and my dysfunctional relationship with food

  1. austingastronomist.com November 2, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    This lunch looks oddly horrific and appetizing. Does not compute! Is the audio book of OD fun to listen to? I read the original a few years ago, but I'm looking for a good audio book.

  2. Amy H November 2, 2010 at 2:39 am #

    I just listened to Omnivore's Dilemma on CD, too! It was so eye-opening, and it also made me sad. We've started buying eggs and chicken from a local farmer, and I think grass-fed beef is next. Now that I know where my food comes from, I have to decide if I'm OK with it, and I'm not OK with the status quo. Corn is in EVERYTHING!!

    I love your blog, Mrs. Q – keep up the good work!

  3. Mrs. Q November 2, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    I'm an audiobook addict. I used to listen to NPR, but I really like choosing what I'm listening to. I have read a ton of audiobooks over the years. I just "shop around" at the library!

  4. Ellen November 2, 2010 at 2:59 am #

    i have to say, if eating gluten free makes you feel better, it is NOT dysfunctional! it may not be possible while you are eating a school lunch, but it your well being is certainly enough justification to go gluten free. be aware that many people are sensitive to gluten (and that can turn into celiac), but it won't show up on tests. here's a great article on gluten free diets: http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/november-2010/healthy-eating/gluten-the-whole-story.php

  5. Renee November 2, 2010 at 3:07 am #

    This lunch seems so sad compared to some of the lunches recently. I really think the bagel-dog looks worse than lots of other things you've eaten –maybe because it doesn't seem like real food? Even a burnt processed chicken patty somehow seems more real.

    I loved the Omnivore's Dilemma, I still think about some of the things I learned from that book.

  6. Elye November 2, 2010 at 3:21 am #

    I like reading your Gluten-Free tribulations. My little brother was diagnosed with celiac at 15.

  7. The 100 Best Health Sites November 2, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    YOU SAID:
    "It's easy to avoid wheat in the obvious products, but when it's hidden as fillers? "

    Gosh, that's no problem for me, as long as I stick with real natural whole foods. There aren't any fillers hidden in a plain old carrot, or a tomato, or a bell pepper. And I definitely feel a whole lot better without bread and cereals and grains.

  8. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    It could be an issue with blood sugar and carbs and not gluten at all. I think it best not to over analyze and self diagnose. Will be interested to hear the results of your testing though.

  9. Pet Lover November 2, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    Could anyone please share some information on the Nutritional Facts of this Delicious food.

  10. Valentijn November 2, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Gluten free breads are pretty easy to find these days. I'm in the process of baking my own at this very moment because I have too much spare time 😛 A blend of corn flour and rice flour tastes surprisingly "normal".

  11. scrappingadvocate November 2, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    That lunch is so nasty looking! Sorry you ate that! If you were a child with a bona-fide gluten allergy, (or other), you could make the school provide you with a "safe" meal. I put safe in quotes because I have two kids with multiple food allergies and while I could legally make the school provide a "safe" lunch, I really cannot ensure that it won't get mucked up. The consequences are too dire for me to risk it. Unfortunately, here in the burbs of Indy, our lunches look much like yours do and I won't let my kids eat that crap, allergies or not. They are having hot dogs today, 4 each with no bread. They are GF and allergy friendly with no additives. Thanks again for shedding some light on such a huge problem!

  12. Kim November 2, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    You did eat corn when you ate the hot dog. Most hogs and cattle in this country are raised on corn (not their natural diet). The ketchup no doubt contains HFCS so that has a processed corn product in it. The fruit cup likely contains HFCS as well. Corn was used to produce at least 3 of the 4 items you ate but you didn't detect a single kernel and nothing tasted like corn. WTF?

    Even the potatoes may have been raised using biofuel made from corn. It ain't called "King Korn" fer nuthin'. To add insult to injury, the price of corn is artificially low because our tax dollars prop up corn production through federal subsidies. People complain about how high their taxes are but they vote time and time again for legislators who are unwilling to challenge our system of using American tax dollars to prop up big agribusiness.

  13. Ms.T November 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    If you like Omnivores Dilemma, you should read The End Of Overeating by David Kissler. Very interesting look at how manufacturing processes keep us addicted to processed foods.

    If you feel better eating GF, then why would the testing matter? Feeling better is the benefit no matter what the testing may say. I have a friend with arthritis and lupus who went GF even though her doctor said there was no reason to do so. It makes a HUGE difference for her so she continues to eat GF. She feels much better when she does and notices a huge issue when she doesn't. Do what makes you feel better, more energetic and healthier.

  14. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    Mrs. Q,
    If you are craving food that tastes like wheat but is gluten free, you should definitely look into Udi's bread (http://udisglutenfree.com/products). They carry them at Whole Foods and a lot of chain stores now and they are delicious!!There are many stores in your area that carry Udi's– use the store finder on their website.

  15. The Table of Promise November 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    And now you know why I choose to stay up late most night researching food and blogging on top of working full time and taking care of my two precious boys. There comes a point where you have more questions than answers about the food you are eating.

    I choose to "opt out" of as many industrialized foods as possible. I have been writing and researching food for over 6 months and I still have so many questions. But there is one thing I am sure of….if a food is wrapped in plastic or packaging, there is a greater chance that I will struggle to answer those questions.

  16. Katie November 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    I read the Omnivore's Dilemma a couple years ago, and it was truly eye opening. I also read Rollan's In In Defense of Food. Another good one. One thing about the testing for gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, I read that if you do the test while on a gluten free diet, the results won't be accurate.

  17. Courtney November 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    You must feel horrible after eating a lunch like this! I know I would. Caloric melt down for sure by 2 pm!

  18. Dr. Susan Rubin November 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    I so enjoy reading about your adventures in eating and in raising your Food IQ. Its been quite a wild ride, hasn't it?

    Ominovore's Dilemma is available in a young readers edition. How cool would it be if we actually had this information integrated into K-12 curriculum via social studies/history/ science and english and even some math!

  19. Kim November 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    If you don't want to read about eating GF, skip my comments that follow.

    @Ms. T, a good friend of mine went GF about a year and a half ago to relieve arthritis pain in her spine (ouch!). Like your friend, it has worked well for her but her doctor is skeptical. My friend says she doesn't care whether the pain relief is real or just psychological. It's working for her so she continues to eat GF like your friend. Awhile back, she ate some Chinese takeout orange chicken. The next morning, she woke with severe pain in her spine. After she thought about what she had eaten the previous day, she realized that orange chicken is dipped in batter and deep fried before the orange sauce is added so she thinks the batter was the culprit. Incidents like that make me think that the benefit of going GF for arthritis pain is real and not just in the person's head.

    Mrs. Q, you've mentioned that you like to bake. Going GF adds a new challenge to baking especially with the holidays coming up. I make at least one GF cookie for the Christmas cookie tray at my sister's house so GF friends have a cookie option. One recipe I use makes 6 doz. large cookies but it only calls for 1/3 cup whole wheat flour so making a GF substitution is virtually unnoticeable. I use a Bob's Red Mill GF flour blend and no one ever figures out that the cookies are GF unless I tell them. Last Christmas they were the first cookie to disappear. Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-oatmeal-cookies

  20. Kori November 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    100 Best health sites…you have to remeber that while , yes if you eat whole foods you are undoubtly avoiding Gluten. However , it's in everything , and if Mrs Q enjoys cold cuts or yogurt or anything really , gluten is usually an ingredient in all of those items.
    You have to go to a special deli or butcher to find meat and products of the like that are not processed with Gluten , or corn for that matter.
    With a family , unless a dire necessity , this isn't always possible or affordable.
    We do our best at home to elliminate over processing…no HCFC's and organic as much as we can , but cost is always an issue , so we can only do what we can do…..

  21. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    yuck

    I also agree with the posters that say don't worry about what the tests tell you. Eat what makes you feel better! A lot of people have a threshold of what their body can tolerate (often this changes frequently due to our bodies constantly adjusting hormone levels). If just cutting down on gluten makes you feel better, no need to go further (unless of course there is a true allergy which everyone has covered is different than an intolerance)

  22. Michelle November 2, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Mrs Q-
    Omnivore's Dilemma is a good start- but as I said in a prior comment, reading "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer is also worth a look.
    I'm a vegan and I started getting really bad skin problems, so I had an allergy test done. Not only was gluten a big problem, but soy, spelt, rye, and wheat, as well as pineapple and cranberry showed up as red flags as well. I thought it would be horrible to have to cut back on an already theoretically restrictive diet (I call it that as that's what most people would call it- but it's actually forced me to become more creative in the kitchen), but not only do I feel great but it's not as challenging as I thought. No processed foods are possible for me, but that's for the best.

    I look at the photos of your lunches day after day and it saddens me greatly to think of how kids are being raised to view that as "food." Real food comes from the ground, or from trees, or plants, not processed and manufactured into "bagel dogs"- a food where there are neither bagels, nor dogs.

  23. Stacey November 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    I like all the Pollan books, but my favorite is "In Defense of Food".

  24. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    I'll be curious to hear about your GF testing. I've so far had the IgA blood test and the genetic test, both negative, and haven't made time to go see the doctor again to find out more. Or course, you should be eating gluten every day for moat gluten tests, because your body won't show it's reacting if the gluten isn't present. I definitely think testing helps because you'll be in so many situations where it would be rude not to eat the food offered, unless you can give a reason. And it's also hard to know, since gluten tastes good when you're eating it – is that what makes you feel bad later, or is it something else? Many nutritionist think gluten isn't good for anyone because it came along relatively late in our evolutionary process. You could also avoid gluten at home, and then do your best in the outside world.

  25. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    I came to this website from reading gluten free girl and the chef. I posted a comment the other day regarding your new found gluten issue. I can understand changing your diet-but can you really prove your purpose of this blog if you just pick and choose what you eat. I am not sure how well informed you are about gluten/wheat-but do actually realize how many products it is in? French fries, pancakes, tomato soup and I could go on and on. It just seems like you are taking your blog in a different direction and how can you say that this food is so awful-if you are not even eating it. I am not trying to put you down, but really. Then just take pictures and talk about what makes up the food. Stay true. Hopefully you respect my comment as I have been faithful to your blog-and actually post it.

  26. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    That bagel dog looks disgusting, but I have to admit, one of my favorite "fast foods" at the mall is Hot Dog on a Stick. It's too delicious for me to resist…

  27. Viki November 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    Mrs. Q do you sometimes feel like your life is kind of like a science experiment?

    I wonder sometimes if in the future we will find out that so many of our health problems will come down to highly processed corn.

    Kim is right corn was in so much of what was served in that meal and not a kernal was actually on the tray. It is the same in every fast food meal as well.

  28. shel November 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    very very happy to hear that you are listening to the omnivore's dilemma. it is likely that you'll run out and get all of pollan's books after that. i wanted to also direct your attention to a new movie called Fresh, here: http://www.freshthemovie.com./
    that is fantastic. unlike Food Inc. (also a great movie) this one is downright hopeful that we can make a change as consumers and opt out of unhealthy corporate food production. your man michael pollan is one of the stars of the show. very inspiring. check it out!!

  29. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    I'm in the same boat right now – I'm waiting for results of a gluten test, but my doctors suspects I don't have an allergy. Before going to the doctor I was on a business trip and I ordered room service that came with two warm rolls (yum) and I couldn't resist taking a bite with butter.

    Even if my results come back as negative, I do think I feel better without wheat so I might cut down. But I agree, I can't go completely without wheat, especially if I don't have a medical reason not to.

  30. Anonymous November 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    Enough with the gluten & your own diet issues! Wasn't this blog supposed to be about giving manageable menu changes a chance to gain traction in the public school system? As a reader who's been here from the beginning, I'm sick to death of hearing about your personal diet! Get back to focusing on the real matter at hand -simple changes that will be guaranteed to help our kids! Fresh fruit, better utensils, more time to eat; the list goes on & on, but all you seem to care about is yourself. Get over the gluten fanaticism!

  31. Jane November 3, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    To Anonymous at 6:29 PM, you don't have to read this blog anymore if you don't like it. And what's up with the hostility?? "Sick to death"? Uh, over-dramatic much?

    I personally think food allergies are very common and could impact the kids, too, so it is relevant. Someone with wheat allergies can't enjoy a bagel dog, so maybe other food options should be available.

    The diet stories also makes the blog more personal, which I really enjoy.

  32. Mrs. Q November 3, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    Thanks Jane and everyone else. It seems that there is a real dichotomy regarding my discussion of the gluten-free stuff. Many people don't mind and other people are offended. I think that's part of blogging.

    I think it's valid that I'm having trouble stomaching the food. I think it's valid that I am avoiding eating some of it. This experient is not "SuperSize Me" in that I'm not forcing myself to eat a ton of something for every meal. Yuck.

    Depending on the day, kids eat all or none or a little of their lunches. So that I eat all of the fruit cup one day and the next drink the juice only is part of the experiment: I'm eating lunch like the kids. Lots of bread gets thrown out. Lots of breading is uneaten.

    I think that since I am anonymous many people think I must be some kind of new-age, weirdo hippie avoiding wheat and cheese. Well, my mom was a hippie. Me? No. I'm more of an "Ann Taylor" buttoned-up kind of person….but with comfortable shoes!

  33. Kim November 3, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    I think it's important to understand gluten intolerance and celiac disease along with food allergies, diabetes, lactose intolerance, and any condition that necessitates a special diet. These are issues faced by many school children, as well as adults, every single day with each and every bite they put in their mouths. What better way to learn about the effects of gluten intolerance than from the experiences of someone who is struggling with the condition?

    @Anonymous at 6:39 PM-

    Who decided that this blog is only about, in your words, "…. the real matter at hand -simple changes that will be guaranteed to help our kids! Fresh fruit, better utensils, more time to eat; the list goes on & on …."?

    School lunch reform is about simple changes AND so much more. I'm all for fresh fruit, better utensils (by which I think you must mean reusable utensils), and more time to eat, but if simple changes are the only ones we demand of our school lunch programs, we will have failed our country's school children in the end.

    I find it helpful to read comments about the effects of all food additives, including those that contain wheat derivatives and gluten. I'm trying to learn not only what some of the not-so-simple changes are that should be made to school lunches (especially those that include processed foods) but also why they should be made.

  34. Angie November 3, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    The cows & pigs definitely ate corn, but they ate more than just that – it's actually quite frightening what is in our food chain via livestock feed:
    http://www.powered-by-produce.com/2010/11/02/you-are-what-they-eat/

  35. HenrysMom A2MI November 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    We eat Applegate Hot Dogs once in a while. Processed, yes, but Grass fed, GF and no nitrates/nitrites. It would be great if your school could serve these on hot dog/corn dog day. They aren't bad tasting either. Some of the other decent hotdogs taste pretty bad.

    http://www.applegatefarms.com/products/organic_beef_dogs.aspx

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