Gluten free food choices

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Gluten free food isn’t as difficult to find now, as it was 10 years ago, when I had to switch to gluten free diet. You had to shop at health food stores and there weren’t so many options available. Today you can walk into any grocery store and gluten free products are very easy to find. They are usually grouped in a separate isle, or they can be placed throughout the store (depending on kind) and marked as ‘gluten free.’

If you have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, it is very important for you to stick to the gluten free diet. First, it will help to eliminate the symptoms and you will start feeling better. Second, it will prevent any other complications that could happen. Specialists, researching gluten and its implications, agree that it would be beneficial for everyone to limit gluten consumption, because it is poorly digested by human body. So, if you were to eliminate all those foods you grew up eating, to feel better, would that be such a bad deal? Ever heard of a low carb diet? It’s not that far off of the gluten free diet. Seriously though, is it hard to switch to gluten free (gf) food? The answer is: no, it is not. Besides, a lot of times gf products are also organic, which is an added benefit.

Most stores, especially health food stores, sell all kinds of gf flours, like rice, tapioca, potato, quinoa, amaranth, etc. All you need is a good gf cookbook to learn how to use them. There are also many websites with gf recipes. My family’s favorite cookbook is Ph.D.Carol Fenster’s “Wheat – Free Recipes and Menus”. I use it so often it’s starting to fall apart. My kids, who are also gluten intolerant, love the pancakes recipe. They eat so many pancakes at a time, I have to multiply the recipe times three to feed all of us. Also, gf waffles are great and I usually make extra to freeze them for a quick meal later on. You can buy many ready made frozen gf waffles and breads, but they are much more expensive than when you make them yourself (and not as fresh).

There is an abundance of all kinds of dry gf mixes available in stores: cake, cookie, bread, pizza, or pie crust mixes. Here are some of the brands available: Schar, Arico, Enjoy Life, EnerG, Bob’s Red Mill, Cherrybrook Kitchen, Pamela’s, Orgran, Glutino, and Nature’s Path. Pay attention to the label and read the ingredients, because some of the brands make also products that are not gluten free. They are usually reasonably priced and easy to make at home. Ready made cookies, or breads are quite expensive and I buy them only occasionally.

Eating out today is much easier than 10 years ago. Many restaurants have some gf menu choices. I usually go to their web site first and get a list of gf dishes. It’s not just for myself, but also for my kids. You have to be very careful ordering in Chinese, Mexican, and Italian restaurants. In those diners I’ve had problems with my food almost every time I visited. Read the menu carefully and don’t be shy to ask questions.

For travel the best are prepackaged gf snack bars, like Nature’s Path’s Enviro Kids Rice Bars, or Glutino gf Breakfast Bars and ‘the immortal’ rice cakes.

Since 2008, companies are required to label all gluten free products as such, which makes grocery shopping much easier. No more guessing games.

All the food choices listed here are good substitutes for their wheat, rye, oat, and barley equivalents. However, they are not a substitute for a balanced diet, that includes other foods, namely: fruits, vegetables, meats, etc. When you are ready switch to a gluten free diet, it shouldn’t take more than a month for you to feel better. It took me only two weeks. If you do not see any improvement, that means some of your food isn’t gluten free. Be careful, read the labels. Your health is what’s at stake.

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