Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gluten-Free Week Wrap Up!

So I made it through my week or so of GF living and honestly, it wasn't that hard. I was pleased to find such great GF items at local grocery stores (Wegman's, Safeway, etc.) and live very close to a Whole Foods that caters to people with celiac disease, food allergies and those just trying to eat healthy, organic foods. I was able to find GF breads, cereals, crackers, and pasta that tasted great! Snacks that I already enjoy like baked chips and popcorn are naturally gluten free (but always make sure to check food labels!). I loaded up on fresh fruits, veggies, low fat dairy and lean meats which are gluten free as well.

I know that these specialty items can be a bit more expensive but I was also surprised to find that they weren't always as bad as I remember initially (except for the GF bread... upwards of $8/loaf!! For this I might try to go that extra mile and try to bake GF bread yourself if you have the time to save a few $$. Check out Gluten Free Goddess for some amazing bread recipes.)

Walking in the shoes of someone who may have celiac disease or a wheat/gluten allergy has really opened my eyes to the challenges of eating with a gluten-restriction and will really make me more sympathetic when it comes to counseling my patients with these limitations. It takes some getting used to. It isn't as easy to eat out. The flavors of your favorite carbohydrate-rich foods will be different (not always bad, but different). It may be a bit more expensive and some other sacrifices need to be made. You need to pay attention to food labels and check out every ingredient because there are "hidden" forms of gluten in foods. Even soy sauce has wheat in it (but there are GF versions)! 
Make sure to watch out for things like:
  • Modified food starch (MAY be made with a gluten-containing starch)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Dextrin
  • Barley and Rye also contain "gluten"
  • Anything "malted": malt, malt flavoring, malt extract, malt syrup and malt vinegar
  • Oats may also contain traces of gluten due to where they are grown and processed...make sure to look for a certified GF oatmeal
  • Wheat includes spelt, kamut, einkorn, emmer, durum, semolina, triticale and atta; wheat bran, couscous, graham flour, matzo, wheat germ, cracked wheat, farina and tabbouleh
  • Seasonings: Some multi-purpose seasonings or special seasonings may contain gluten...label read!
  • Marinades (check labels!)
  • Broth (sometimes wheat is used as a thickening agent)
When eating out you may want to call ahead to the restaurant to see if they can comply with your GF lifestyle. Some restaurants have added completely GF sections to their menu. MB & I went to PF Changs last weekend and I was stoked to see that they had my favorite Changs Spicy Chicken in a GF version that tasted exactly the same! :) With the ahi tuna appetizer and a GF chocolate dome for dessert I was in heaven!  And did I mention? Wine is gluten free.... :D

If you take the time and have the patience, it can become easy to follow a GF lifestyle. I'm not saying there won't be trying moments and frustrating moments and I-hate-this-diet moments...but there will also be rewarding moments :) And if you truly have a gluten intolerance, you'll feel so much better in the end which is a true payoff. 

Have a healthy day everyone :) 

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