Sans Gluten: Eating Gluten Free in France and Learning About the United States Tax Code

Jun 25, 2018 | celiac, Fibromyalgia, gluten free, gluten intolerance

Sometimes a person has to travel far away to learn about where they come from. While researching about eating gluten free (GF) in France, I found something quite unexpected regarding the US tax code.

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Being GF in France seems to be about as misunderstood as it is in the US. I read a great story written by Brenna Daldorph in 2013 and published under the title “No baguette for you: On being gluten intolerant in France”. She gives an excellent account of her doctor in Paris not believing that gluten can be an issue. Thus, he recommended as a treatment for all the health issues she was having (including getting quite sick whenever she would eat gluten containing products) to simple eat a varied diet including bread.!?! Yeah, I know that sounds all to familial to many of the people with gluten issues.

This reminds me of how Fibromyalgia (FM) was and unfortunately still is perceived by many in the health field even today. Even though we have known it was an issue for such a long time and even know so much about what causes it. Central pain sensitization. Peripheral neuropathy. Mitochondrial dysfunction.

Same goes for gluten sensitivity and even gluten allergy (Celiac Disease is considered a “true” allergy to gluten). We know so much about both of these but still they are so misunderstood. Perhaps this is part of the reason that in both the US and France, 80% of those people with Celiac Disease go undiagnosed.

AFDIAG (Association Francaise des Intolerants au Gluten) is the organization in France working on behalf of people with gluten intolerance and allergy. As of 2013 they had 6,000 members in France. They were responsible for pushing legislation (France is the oldest democracy in the world) that now has the French government giving partial refunds on GF products purchased by people with Celiac Disease.

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Restaurants in Paris have also been helping with the cause. Bio Sphere Cafe has been 100% GF since 2012. Helmut Newcake, arguably the first GF patisserie in France, was a huge risk but has turned into a huge success. Francois Tagliafern, the founder of Helmut Newcake, has related that the journey began when his wife Marie was diagnosed with Celiac Disease while working as a pastry chef in one of the most prestigious bakeries in France. Her work was killing her.

Now here in Aix en Provence, in the south of France, inroads are being made as well. Marie, the owner of “Les petits plats de Trinidad” was absolutely wonderful when we visited. Twice. Probably would have been ten times but we were there over her 2 days off a week. Her restaurant and bakery was tremendous and she was so helpful in explaining all the delicious GF baked goods/deserts on the menu. And hers was just one of many in the area working on achieving a better life and quality of life for those with gluten issues.

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Now, about the US tax code. So after I read about the French governments partial refunds and a mention of the US tax code by Brenna Daldorph I looked it up. Now, I would be quite interested to hear updates on this information and I will try to find these on my own after I get back home. But what I found seemed quite amazing.

For those people who spend 10% or more of their adjusted gross income (AGI) on medical expenses, they can itemize and get tax refunds. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, these are the areas where Celiac Disease patients can deduct. Any cost of a GF item in excess of what the non-gluten containing item would cost. For example, if GF bread costs $5  but regular bread costs $2.50, you can deduct the difference in cost. $2.50. The full cost of special items like Xanthan gum used in GF baking can be deducted. The full cost of postage or other delivery expenses for GF foods made by mail order can be deducted. Even the cost of attending and traveling to any medical conference/event about Celiac Disease if it is for you, your spouse or a dependent can be deducted. Who knew? The Celiac Disease Foundation recommended the IRS publication 502 as a reference. A doctors note will be needed stating the person has Celiac Disease.

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Now we already know that all people with any autoimmune disease have an issue with Gluten. Typically a gluten intolerance but this can at times be almost “Celiac bad”. Either way, gluten has to be avoided. So, can all people with any AD use the same deductions as long as they have a note from their doctor stating they have a gluten issue? How about people with other chronic diseases where food intolerances are an issue? Especially when FDA approved tests are used to test for food intolerances? I don’t know. But it is quite interesting. Let’s see what happens.

“Get a Revolution. Get to Revolution.”

Dr. David Bilstrom
Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctor



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