Moving to a gluten free lifestyle can be very challenging. Education on gluten and where it hides in foods is essential to a successful transition. I found out how challenging it can be when my friends son had to switch to a gluten free diet because of his autism. The simple act of choosing a snack item for him was suddenly a lesson in gluten and the foods it is in.
Gluten is a composite of proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. The problem with avoiding these items is that food labels aren’t always clearly marked in a way that makes it clear whether or not there is gluten in the food.
Gluten is used as a stabilizing agent in products like ice cream and ketchup, where you don’t really expect it to be. Other products that surprisingly can contain gluten: medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent, lipstick and lip balms, toothpaste, postage stamps and play dough.
The following listed on a label usually means that a grain containing gluten has been used: stabilizer, starch, flavoring, emulsifier, hydrolyzed and plant protein. Grains are used in processing many ingredients, so the following may mean there is gluten, but also may not depending on how the ingredients were processed: hydrolyzed vegetable protein, flour or cereal products, vegetable protein, malt or malt flavoring, modified starch, modified food starch, vegetable gum and soy sauce.
Extreme care should be used when purchasing processed foods because the manufacturing process makes it very difficult to assure that a food is gluten free unless it is labeled specifically as such. A gluten free diet will generally rule out all consumption of ordinary breads, pastas and convenience foods.
The purchase of fresh, whole foods in their closest to natural state will aid in maintaining a gluten free diet. For example, fresh corn on the cob hasn’t been processed and manufactured in a way that adds gluten to it.
There are supermarkets you can shop at that carry gluten free products. A partial list of those is: Kroger, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smith’s Food and Drug, Quality Food Centers, Food 4 Less, Publix, Shoprite, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. These stores have gluten free products, but not everything in the store will be gluten free. So use your new-found knowledge of labeling to make smart choices.
Gluten free cooking doesn’t have to be bland or boring either. The allrecipes website has a section dedicated to gluten free recipes, including ones using gluten-free flours. Another great site for gluten-free living is GlutenFreeda. They have over 3000 gluten-free recipes and also offer information on gluten free products, monthly menus and they have an online cooking class. This site caters to those with Celiac disease but is a huge source of information for anyone who is transitioning and trying to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle.
Wikipedia, Gluten Free Diet
GiCare.com, Gluten Free Diet
Mayo Clinic Website, How To Go Gluten Free
About.com, Where to Shop For Gluten Free Food