October 2017
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Why Going Gluten-Free Isn’t a Fad Diet

for Brooklyn Paper
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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.

But Why?

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 such as celiac. Unlike those with a wheat allergy, those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity can have many other symptoms – including the inability to properly digest gluten, skin rashes, brain fog, anxiety, pain in the abdomen and joints, and many others.

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

Reading (and understanding) labels on food packaging is paramount to maintaining a 100 percent 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’s how to shop for gluten-free food anywhere.

Shopping Tips

• 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.

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?

If you plan on travelling research gluten-free restaurants in that location.

For example, 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.

Gluten-Free Playdates

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 understands 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.

Posted 12:00 am, October 25, 2017
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