Autoimmune, Blog, Celiac, Gluten, Restaurants

“Gluten Free” Straws

Let’s be real, most of us have a concern for our environment and would like to make our carbon footprint a little smaller. Maybe you use reusable snack baggies instead of the plastic zip baggies. Or maybe you’ve switched your family vehicle to a snazzy Tesla and ditched your gas guzzling F350. One day we’ll have a Tesla in the driveway. (and not just my best friend’s Tesla when she stops by for a visit 😊) But a girl’s gotta dream, right?!

Today, there is more and more concern about plastic in general, but more specifically, plastic straws. They are difficult to recycle and horrible for our oceans. But wait…can we just reread the mind-blowing fact that is boldly displayed on the picture at the beginning? “In the U.S. alone, we use over 500 million plastic straws per day!” That is truly unbelievable.

So many restaurants are starting to ditch plastic straws and bring out various options that may help our environment or at least not hurt it as bad as plastic does. Unfortunately for us peeps with Celiac, we have to be VERY careful with most of the options that are now given to us in restaurants.

I thought I would do a little research to help us figure out which straws are best for those of you who are Celiac like me. There are many claims out there that gluten can be hidden in some of these straw options. So, let’s figure out which straw is best to use!


PASTA STRAWS:

This is a straw that those with Celiac MUST avoid for obvious reasons. Just like you would guess from their name, these straws are made of pasta (wheat flour and water). So clearly the “wheat” part of this straw is the danger part. Wheat=gluten=war in the body of a diagnosed Celiac. While I do like that they are compostable and/or even consumable, those of us with Celiac disease will have to pass on the “pasta straw” and leave these straws for the rest of the population.

HAY STRAWS:

Another straw that we will have to avoid are “hay straws.” These straws are made from the stems of the wheat plant. Now the website haystraws.com claims that these straws are gluten free. Maybe they are, maybe they are not. I would worry that there could be a high chance of cross contact therefore, I will not be partaking in these new-age straws.

PAPER STRAWS:

So, I think it is safe to say most of you probably have used or at least heard of paper straws. I would imagine that most of you probably have NOT heard that paper straws may have gluten in them. Okay pick your jaw up from the floor just for a second.

So, when I heard of this, I had to research for myself. I have searched and searched. The National Celiac Association states that “there is no evidence that paper straws contain wheat starch.”

There are claims out there that the glue on the straws could contain gluten. They are made with 3 plies of paper and bonded together with a small amount of adhesive. From what I have read, it seems that the glue is where gluten “could” be hidden.

A website that sells paper straws, uses “wheat straw” instead of using trees to make their paper straws. Wheat straw is the stalk left over after the wheat grains are harvested. Their wheat straw production facilities are near wheat fields, so this sets off red flags for me. I would worry about cross contact. Maybe, being too caution, but why risk it for a straw that becomes soggy and gross after a few sips anyway. So, with that being said, I will say no to paper straws.


After all this research over straws, I have to make one point. Maybe we can all go without a straw now and then. Why can’t we just drink a drink without a straw? I mean I don’t know about you, but when I’m home and I pull out my glass, handled Mason jar drinking cup, I do not put a straw in it to drink out of. My son has a stainless-steel cup he brings to school, without a straw.

Now I do get those times in a restaurant when you may be grossed out by the server touching the top of the glass right where your mouth would go. Some may call me a “clean freak” or nearly a germaphobe so I get it.

This is where I have come up with my solution to this entire straw dilemma. My solution to paper straws vs. hay straws; Plastic straws vs. whatever else straws. I have purchased my own reusable stainless steel straws that nestle nicely in a case that I keep tucked in my handbag for those moments when I may be worried about germs or all they have is a pasta straw for me to drink from. Amazon has many great options, which is where I got mine. Or the picture at the beginning, is a sign I saw at this little coffee shop near me. They sell stainless steel straws too. More and more places are selling this great straw option.

With all the different straw options and now that more and more laws are being made to ban plastic straws, those of us with Celiac disease are best using reusable stainless-steel straws or no straw at all. I know it is only a tiny part in making my carbon footprint smaller but if we all make small baby steps, we can hope it will make a big difference. Well and truthfully, this one is an easy step for me since I do not have many straw options anyway, lol! So, while some may enjoy the soggy paper straw, hay straw or eatable pasta straw, I will be sipping on my stainless-steel straw. Cheers to that!

“Never allow anyone to take away your sparkle. Be kind and laugh and love often.”

Cheers, Tracy

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