Gluten Free Shopping Tips
What is Gluten?
It is a kind of protein found in certain types of grains, including wheat, barley and rye.
Why Eat Gluten Free?
For most people, gluten is completely harmless. It can only afflict the health of those who have the following conditions:
Celiac Disease - It is an autoimmune disease, mainly caused by genetics. Once people with celiac disease consume gluten, it will damage the lining of the intestine, prevent food from being properly digested, obstruct nutrients from being adequately absorbed, and accordingly cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, stomach pain and bloating sensation. The inability to absorb enough nutrients from food may also lead to other health problems, including anemia and bone disease.
Dermatitis Herpetiformis - Like celiac disease, it is autoimmune and usually causes the same gastrointestinal symptoms. People with dermatitis herpetiformis, however, tend to also experience an itchy skin rash after eating gluten.
Gluten Sensitivity - People with gluten sensitivity usually develop similar symptoms experienced by those with celiac disease. The only difference is that it isn't an autoimmune condition and can be more difficult to diagnose.
***Currently, the only available treatment for these three conditions is a strict gluten-free diet.***
Gluten free shopping isn't as difficult as you think!
Gluten Free Recipes
Once you decide to follow a gluten-free diet, a new habit you must adopt is to always read food labels before putting food items into your shopping cart. The following are gluten-containing ingredients to avoid.
The First Five Ingredients to Look For
- Malt (Malt is usually made from barley unless the label states otherwise.)
- Oats (Oats naturally don't contain gluten, BUT they are usually contaminated by gluten products during the manufacturing process. To add oats to your diet, you must choose a brand that's labeled "gluten-free.")
Wheat Products by Other Names
- Durum Flour
- Enriched Flour
- Graham Flour
- Modified Food Starch
- Plain Flour
- Triticale (a hybrid between wheat and rye)
- White Flour
Animal Products That May Contain Gluten
That's right! Gluten isn't only found in foods that mainly contain grains and flour, but also in certain meat products that use dextrine, modified food starch or bread crumbs as a binding ingredient.
- Canned Chicken
- Imitation Meat or Seafood
- Lunch Meat
- Hot Dogs
Alcoholic Beverages that Contain Gluten
Avoid drinking beer, unless it's labeled "gluten-free", as beer is a malt beverage. Sometimes it's also called by other names, such as ale and lager, which are basically two main subcategories of beer.
Gluten Free Foods
- Meat and Seafood (not canned or processed)
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts, Beans and Seeds
- Most Dairy Products
- Most Soy Products
Gluten-Free Flour and Starch
- Rice Flour
- Almond Flour
- Corn Starch
- Potato Starch
- Tapioca Flour/Starch
- Amaranth Flour
- Buckwheat Flour
- Millet Flour
- Teff Flour
- Sorghum Flour
- Quinoa Flakes
- Rice Noodles
- Quinoa Pasta
- Soba Noodles (made of 100% buckwheat)
Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages
***Distilled spirits are usually gluten-free, but sometimes they may contain added flavorings or colorings that are made from malt, so it's important that you always read the labels.***
Gluten Free Shopping on a Budget
One major complaint about gluten-free items is that they tend to be more expensive than regular food products. Budget-challenged consumers shouldn't be dismayed, though. There are several ways you can follow a gluten-free diet without breaking the bank.
- Avoid buying ready-made, gluten-free foods or snacks. These products are usually a bit pricey. Yes, making a loaf of gluten-free bread from scratch may sound quite daunting, but that's not the only other option. Gluten-free baking mixes are now available in most grocery stores and supermarkets. You can buy those mixes and prepare gluten-free bread, cookies, pancakes and pizza crusts right in your own kitchen. It's much more economical this way.
- Order gluten-free products in bulk from an online store. Certain websites, such as Amazon and GlutenFreePlaza.com, offer a substantial discount and free shipping when you buy gluten-free products in bulk.
- Check to see if there is a celiac-disease support group in your area. Besides providing knowledge and healthy tips, some support groups also offer a food assistance program to members.
- Look for websites that offer coupons for gluten-free products. BeFreeForMe.com, for example, not only provides coupons but also free samples.