Why Going Gluten Free Isn’t a Fad Diet
Gluten free food is popping up everywhere, and it’s about time. For years, people diagnosed with celiac disease, or those given a more obscure diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, have spent time and money restructuring their meal plans to ensure that the food they eat only includes gluten free ingredients.
It’s easier for some people to understand the terminology ‘food allergy’ than it is for them to understand avoiding certain foods because of a disease like celiac. Unlike those with a wheat allergy, those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can have a myriad of other symptoms--including the inability to properly digest gluten, skin rashes, brain fog, anxiety, pain in the abdomen and joints, and many others.
Eating gluten free--for those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy
— is not a fad diet. It’s a medical intervention for conditions to which there is no cure.
Just like those with food allergies, most people who decide to go on a gluten free diet do it for health reasons and have no other choice. For many, ingesting even a crumb due to cross-contamination, can cause excruciating pain and a debilitating recurrence of symptoms. The only way to avoid these complications is to remain on an entirely gluten-free diet.
There’s an App for That - How to Shop for Gluten Free Food Anywhere
Reading (and understanding) labels on food packaging is paramount to maintaining a 100% gluten free diet; however, there are ways to assist beginners in identifying what food is gluten free. Remember, it is a good idea to always read the label, even if you have purchased an item before, because ingredients and ingredient sourcing can change. Just because an item is gluten-free today doesn’t mean it will be gluten-free next year.
Here are a few tips to set you on the right track:
- Download an app like The Gluten Free Scanner and scan the barcodes of products to see if they are gluten free. This is helpful because other gluten-free consumers are sharing information and adding new products to the app.
- Do an internet search to research foods that you normally purchase.
- Look for labels that say ‘Gluten Free’, ‘Naturally Gluten Free’, and ‘Certified Gluten Free’.
- Buy whole foods. Shop around the outside perimeters of the store, sticking to produce, protein, and dairy.
- Shop at a store that identifies products throughout the store that are gluten free.
- Buy products online at gluten free stores.
- Identify local retailers that consistently offer a quality gluten free product line.
The Trick to Finding Gluten Free Friendly Restaurants
- Breathe easy. You CAN eat out at a huge number of restaurants on a gluten free diet, and that doesn’t mean ordering a salad—unless that is what you want to order.
- The key to a worry-free meal out is research. This is as simple as doing a quick search online of ‘restaurant name gluten free menu’. Alternatively, you could browse around on a restaurant’s website or call the restaurant directly.
- Trial and error is not something that you want to play around with when it comes to dining out on a gluten free diet. Know before you go and enjoy a stress-free dinner out.
- Going on a trip? Research gluten free restaurants in that location. For example, in Wheat’s End Café in Chicago is a completely gluten-free restaurant. The chef has celiac disease herself and truly understands the importance of offering gluten-free fare.
While restaurants that are entirely gluten-free are few and far between, once you know how to find gluten free friendly restaurants, dining out can be easier than you think.
Carefree Way to Sending Your Child to a Friend’s House and Without Worrying About Gluten
Just like parents of children with a food allergy, parents of children with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should take care to educate the parents of their children’s friends about their child’s diet. Don’t forget to mention cross contamination. And when in doubt, ask what food is being served and send along something similar for your child to eat.
- Parents should adjust their involvement depending on the child’s age. When a child reaches the teen years and fully understand the importance of adhering to a gluten-free diet, parents can relax a little bit. However, until that point it is a good idea to communicate with the friend’s parents.
- At any age, it is always a good idea to send a gluten-free snack that can be shared.
Jessica McCoy is a freelance writer as well as being the blogger behind All She Cooks. As the mother of a teenage daughter with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Jessica is constantly researching gluten free products and offerings.