The gluten free diet is currently experiencing a moment in the spotlight. Grocery aisles are lined with gluten free products, while restaurants take care to identify which meals are safe for those who cannot process the protein.
Though this diet may currently be en vogue across the country, it was developed in response to a very real problem: celiac disease, or gluten intolerance. People who suffer from these ailments report gluten side effects like bloating, indigestion, and iron-deficiency anemia. Evidence has shown that sensitivity to gluten is on the rise in America. The tried and true treatment of this ailment is to avoid foods that have gluten. This may seem easy; wheat is the main source of gluten, so just avoid wheat products. But it isn’t so simple. Gluten is found in other substances, like barley and rye, plus it has been incorporated into many processed foods and other food products. And if your gluten free lunch has been processed in the same place as gluten, cross contamination can occur.
The University of Arizona has many helpful tips on avoiding this sort of contamination in the home:
- If you live with people who eat gluten, carefully mark your gluten-free food.
- Wooden cooking utensils become contaminated when they come into contact with gluten. Purchase new wooden utensils to be used only for gluten-free cooking.
- Assign a gluten-free zone in the kitchen where you can prepare your food.
- Carefully wash utensils and dishes with plenty of soap and water, especially if they have come into contact with gluten. Always wash your hands after handling gluten.
For dining out, there will be several questions you should get used to asking. Southern Arizona Celiac Support recommends the following:
- Have salad greens come into contact with gluten from croutons, or with hands that have touched gluten?
- Are homemade salad dressings used, or are they store-bought? Do they contain gluten?
- Some processed cheeses, plus bleu cheese and Gorgonzola, can contain gluten. What cheese is used?
- Does the meal have any gluten-containing marinade, sauce, condiment, or breading?
- Are special cooking instruments and utensils set aside for non-gluten foods, and if not, can they be used?
The switch to gluten free eating can be challenging, but increased awareness has made it much easier for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Just be informed and proactive, and you’ll find that it is easy to live gluten free.
- “Gluten Free Diet: Avoid Gluten Contamination”, The University of Arizona Campus Health Service
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