The benefits of gluten free diets are on the rise — and as a result, you'll find more gluten free choices.
Reasons for a Gluten Free Lifestyle:
- Celiac Disease: This autoimmune disease causes the lining of the small intestine to destroy itself when gluten-containing products are consumed. Failure to avoid these foods can result in an inability to absorb nutrients, which causes illnesses like anemia, osteoporosis and further complications. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, up to one percent of Americans may suffer from celiac disease.
- Wheat Allergy: Those affected must seek dietary carbohydrates from other foods.
- Diabetes: Often requires a reduction in total carbohydrates consumed. Many gluten free recipes feature low-carbohydrate ingredients such as meats, eggs and fresh vegetables.
- Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Some gluten free recipes and products are also lower in carbohydrates.
- Gluten Free Do's and Don'ts Gluten free living requires a diet makeover; reading labels carefully will help you tremendously. Consult your doctor and follow these guidelines:
- Know Your Grains: The FDA defines "gluten" as products containing or derived from wheat. In addition, individuals on gluten free diets cannot eat products containing rye, barley, spelt and certain kinds of oats that have been produced alongside wheat in factories.
- Be Careful with Cereals: Avoid products containing wheat, malt, barley and rye. Giant Eagle carries gluten free cereals that you can safely consume. Those made from corn or rice make great choices, too — as long as they do not contain wheat or wheat derivatives. Ask your doctor or dietician for a complete list of "safe" cereals.
- Say "No" to Baked Goods: Most are made from wheat. Visit your Giant Eagle Bakery for sweet, gluten free alternatives to your favorite baked goods.
- Pass on the Pasta: Most are made with enriched wheat. However, you can still enjoy rice noodles (available in the Asian Foods aisle of your local Giant Eagle) — as well as delicious rice dishes like risotto.
- Choose Naturally Gluten Free Foods: Examples include potatoes, quinoa, fresh produce, beans and sunflower seeds.
- Avoid Malted Beverages: Beer, malted milk mix and even certain types of flavored milk contain gluten.
- Ban the Breading: Check labels for food preparation ingredients containing gluten. If an item is breaded (such as breaded frozen shrimp or fried chicken), or the ingredient panel contains words like "starch," "emulsifier" or "flour," you should not consume it.
Adhere to Your Diet with Ease
- Supplement Your Diet with a Complete Multivitamin: Make sure you are getting a full day's supply of nutrients. Check with your Giant Eagle pharmacist to make sure that all vitamins, supplements and any other medications you need contain gluten free casings.
Keep a Segregated Food Prep Area: Designate specific cookware, utensils, towels, serving-ware, toasters, cutting boards and other items exclusively for gluten free cooking. Dishwashing items, including sponges and scrubbers, must also be used only on gluten free cookware to prevent cross-contamination. (Editor's note: These rules are vital to individuals with celiac disease and wheat allergies, but may not apply to individuals following gluten free diets for other reasons. Always consult your physician.)