May is Celiac Awareness Month. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine when a person eats the gluten found in wheat, barley, rye or some oats. It essentially prevents the intestine from absorbing necessary nutrients.
A strict gluten-free diet is often prescribed for people with the disease. Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Intermittent diarrhea
- Inability to absorb nutrients which can cause symptoms of fatigue, rashes, and weight loss
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis before eliminating anything from your diet. Although Celiac is a very serious disease which requires an immediate lifestyle change, many people choose to avoid gluten in an effort to improve their general wellbeing. A healthy gluten free diet consists of whole foods found mostly on the perimeter of the grocery store. Beware of processed gluten free foods posing as healthy alternatives.
If you are considering a gluten free diet here are a few tips:
Check the Whole Label
A gluten free label does not necessarily equate to healthy or nutritious. Manufacturers use grains and starches that are naturally gluten free such as corn, potatoes, rice, and tapioca. However, the refining process of these products removes many nutrients as well as the protein (gluten). This leaves a flour that converts to glucose rapidly. A cake is still a cake, gluten free or not.
Eat More Produce and Whole Foods
You’ll never have to worry about gluten when you eat fruits and vegetables. Eggs, fish, meat, nuts and seeds are also naturally gluten free.
Learn What You Have to Avoid
It means more than giving up traditional breads, cereals, pasta, pizza, and beer. Gluten also lurks in many other products, including soy sauce, some foods made with “natural flavorings,” vitamin and mineral supplements, some medications, and even toothpaste.
If you are trying to limit your gluten intake, make sure to familiarize yourself with sources of gluten. It’s not as simple as you may think! I always recommend to read the labels before buying anything.
What are some of your favourite healthy gluten free recipes or products? Is there any new gluten free product you’d like to see at Vince’s Market?
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