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How To Eat Gluten Free Cheaply

Updated on October 21, 2015

Gluten Related Disorders

What is Gluten Free?

Gluten is protein that is a common allergen found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale.
Some people have allergic reactions when they eat gluten-containing foods and thus face huge risks that may be fatal. For others, gluten is simply an impediment to getting healthy. Many processed foods used to have the label gluten-free while still containing a small percentage of the allergen, however, new acts by the FDA now depict strict requirements for manufacturers.

FDA definition for gluten free products
According to the 2004 consumer protection act of food allergen labeling, manufacturers are required to list up to 8 top food allergens existing in their products. This is a requirement for all foods regulated by the FDA and the statements are usually found at the bottom of the can in the “contains” section. The FDA also issued a final verdict back in August 2013 on gluten-free food choices. It simply refers to food without any gluten or trace of it.

Labels such as “no gluten, without gluten or free of gluten” all meet the same standard and all manufacturers were given one year (up to 5th August 2014) to bring their products into compliance. This rule was met with remarkable reception as it protects those with celiac disease and life threatening illnesses that are triggered and worsened by eating gluten. Gluten is a form of protein that naturally occurs in wheat, barley, rye and their crossbreeds. The FDA defines gluten free standard as those foods whose unavoidable gluten content has been limited to below 20 ppm. However, other descriptions that fall under the standard include the following;

• Foods without ingredients that fall under types of rye, wheat and barley or the crossbreeds of such grains
• Foods without ingredients derived from the abovementioned grains that have not been processed to remove gluten
• Foods with ingredients derived from abovementioned grains, but have been processed to remove gluten to under 20 ppm.

Going by these descriptions, foods such as spring water (bottled), vegetables, fruits and eggs can be labeled gluten-free as long as they contain no gluten. Any food that contains gluten higher than 20 ppm and is labeled as gluten-free is considered a case of misbranding and subject to legal action. Patients who suffer illnesses by consuming misbranded products can also file a lawsuit against such manufacturers.

How To Eat Gluten Free Cheaply

A gluten free diet can be quite expensive. This is partly because most patients allergic to such foods (such as those diagnosed with celiac) are chronically ill, and can only manage the disease through diet (since the disease cannot be treated). The demand for gluten free foods is high and this raises the prices of products without this protein. On the other hand, gluten is found in many grains and quite difficult to remove completely from processed foods, so the processing cost can go up. Nonetheless, today you can learn how to eat gluten free cheaply by using following simple insights as follows;

• Purchase natural gluten-free foods on sale – Foods such as eggs, fish, dairy, poultry, potatoes, meat, nuts, rice, beans, nut butters, vegetables and fruits and corn are naturally gluten free before they are processed. Packaged foods such as corn tortillas, salsa, tortilla chips, potato chips, yogurt, ice cream and rice pasta are also safe although it is important to check through the labels to be sure. Packaged foods like oats are naturally without gluten but can be contaminated during processing. You can always stock these essentials in your fridge and since they have not been processed in any way, they are often cheaper than the branded gluten free products.

Check the label – As aforementioned, the food allergen labeling consumer protection act required 8 top allergens to be listed on the product label. Gluten is found in wheat, malt, rye and barley and various ingredients derived from these grains. Crossbreeds of the grains also contain the allergen. Eating processed foods is almost inevitable and they contain some essential nutrition that is required for better health. It is therefore advisable to read carefully through the label and find the section where they list contained ingredients and allergens. However, some ingredients are not considered top allergens yet may still contain dangerous amounts of gluten, such as soy sauce. Once you get past wheat and rye, check the products for ingredients such as barley malt which contains gluten though often left out since it is not a top allergen.

• Find coupons on both regular and specialty shops – The demand for gluten free food is ever growing and many manufacturers offer products to curb this demand. You can find coupons on gluten-free shops, stores and aisles. It is as simple as visiting the website of a gluten free brand and signing up for some form of newsletter, liking their Facebook page or even just sending mail inquiries on available coupons. Compare prices on your regular aisles and regular shops to end up with the most affordable prices for different ingredients.

There are many other minor ways that can help you with how to eat gluten free cheaply. Consider making foods such as bread, baked goods and baking mixes on your own rather than purchasing the expensive gluten-free offers in the market. Costco sells a good type of gluten free flour to make your own baked goods and sauces with. Just use less of it in sauces since it tends to be very gummy.

Shopping online is another convenient way to save extra money on your gluten-free diet. Marketplaces such as, Vitacost, Nuts and Soap all have special subscriptions and discounts for people shopping on specialty ingredients. I buy gluten free macaroni and cheese from Amazon on occasion and it is quite good.

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