Gluten Free Bandwagon

I went to the naturopath last week and learned a few things. 1.) I have a hypothyroid. Awesome. More to come on this later. 2.) I should avoid eating potatoes. That’s easy since my husband is allergic to potatoes and they hardly ever find their way in our house. 3.) I should avoid gluten. My biggest fear is now confirmed!!

Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a pasta-lover, I thoroughly enjoy a slice (or loaf) or french bread or homemade banana muffins or a few (or box) of tomato basil Wheat Thins. And any sense of self control is paralyzed at the smell of a hearty, fresh-baked loaf of bread. Maybe it’s the wheat farmer background in me screaming out for the delicious taste of gluten…But despite this magnetic love of all-things-baked, I am now faced with the challenge to, “Just Say No!”

The gluten-free diet has attracted major attention within the last few years. The primary reason folks traditionally avoided gluten was out of necessity, due to an autoimmune disease called Celiac Disease. Folks with this disease are unable to digest a protein in the gluten called gliadin. In fact, this protein can cause major damage to the intestines and disrupt proper absorption. Additionally, it can cause major pain in the form of headaches, diarrhea, cramping, bloating and stomach aches for the undeserving victim. Put simply, folks with Celiac Disease should avoid gluten at all costs!

There are also folks who are have a wheat allergy or are gluten sensitive. This is less severe than Celiac and involves an allergic reaction which can manifest itself in the form of headaches, bloating, stomach aches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, hives, itchy throat and/or skin, and diarrhea. And the last group of folks who avoid gluten simply do so for weight loss purposes (aka a low carbohydrate diet – my thoughts on this topic will be made in the near future).

So, if you find yourself falling into one of these categories, or simply just want to be more educated on this buzz-word topic of “gluten-free,” here is a list of do and don’t grains/starches to eat for the gluten-free groupie.

Eat  Teff, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, corn, rice, wild rice, flax, arrowroot, millet, hominy, soy flour, tapioca, and sorghum

Avoid – Wheat and wheat products including bulgur, durum flour, spelt, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina; rye, barley, oats*

* What’s up with oats? Naturally, oats do not contain gluten. However, they are typically grown, harvested and processed near and/or around wheat products so it is a good rule of thumb to avoid eating oats.

The tricky thing about gluten is that it is included in many other products besides baked goods. The following list shows food products to avoid as they typically contain gluten.

Foods products to avoid – Beer, breads, cakes and pies, candies, cereals, cookies and crackers, croutons, french fries, gravies, imitation meat or seafood, matzo, pastas, processed luncheon meats, salad dressings, sauces, including soy sauce, seasoned rice mixes, seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips, self-basting poultry, soups and soup bases, vegetables in sauce

If you are avoiding gluten, the good news is there are many gluten-free food options and they are typically well labeled. The other great news is that this diet forces you to consume more fruits, veggies and protein sources – all great choices for your diet!

So now consider yourself educated on the gluten-free diet. If you think you may be gluten intolerant or sensitive, try eliminating gluten products for a week or so and determine how you feel. You can join me this week as I venture down the road of GLUTEN FREE! I’d also highly recommend visiting your doctor and getting a second option, as many folks are self-diagnosed as gluten intolerant.

Lastly, if you are looking for more information and/or recipes, visit these sites:

– “Gluten Free Goodness” by Cheryl Harris, RD – http://www.gfgoodness.com/recipe-index/

– “Kumquat” by Gretchen, RD http://www.kumquatblog.com/

– “Nourishing Results” by Hana, RD and Celiac Disease http://nourishingresults.com/meet-hana/

– “The Gluten Free RD” by Rachel, RD http://rachelbegun.com/blog

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