How NOT to go Crazy on a Gluten-Free DietMonday, March 20, 2017 | 0 comments
Thinking about going gluten-free? Whether it was a suggestion for a simple way to improve your health or a diagnosis of a serious condition, you heard the phrase "gluten-free diet" and suddenly felt a void opening in front of you. One where bread, cookies and Grandma's lasagna no longer existed. So now what? Here are a few common issues that we have seen come up.
The Deal With Oats and Other "Gluten-Free" Ingredients
Grains like quinoa, amaranth and millet don't have gluten in them, unlike wheat, barley and rye. What's up with oats, then? Some say they're fine for gluten-free diets, others say no way. Well, oats in themselves do not contain gluten, but they are often grown alongside and harvested with grains that do. In short, oats are frequently contaminated and are why a lot of oat-based energy bars and cereals can't claim to be gluten-free. You can, however, get oats that are certified gluten-free.
Checking whether or not a product is gluten-free certified is one of the most important things you can do to prevent gluten from finding its way into your meals. There are many foods and snacks without gluten-containing ingredients, but they all have a risk of cross-contamination and will usually state that they're "processed on shared equipment." It's up to you if you want to risk it or not, but if you're going gluten-free for serious reasons, it's best to steer clear.
Gluten is in What, Now?!
It's absolutely ridiculous where this stuff shows up. Because it's so ridiculous, it's also easy to overlook things that have gluten because, really, who would think to look? Soy sauce, for example, and salad dressing. Many types of candy, too, like licorice and gummi bears. This is because wheat makes such a fine additive ingredient in so many products, often as a thickener or to help make things chewy. Unfortunately, it's a fact that requires massive amounts of label reading. Fortunately, ingredient labels these days have allergens listed right at the bottom in big, bold letters. It makes going out to restaurants, parties and family get-togethers an even bigger pain, though, which brings us to...
How Not to Go Crazy
Our society is on some level at least aware that there are people who don't eat gluten. Sadly, it has quickly gained status as more of a fad than a real health-related concern. Restaurants are doing a much better job of providing gluten-free options and understanding food allergies, but, like with manufacturing companies, they can't always prevent contamination. As for parties, you're at the mercy of traditional snacks or professional catering, which can go either way. And unless you have the most amazingly cool friends and family of all time, it's not always easy to get them to pitch in.
Breathe – you have options! One easy solution is to bring your own food. Maybe not to restaurants, although there are some serious lovers of dining out who have been known to tote their own pasta around. It's not as fun as showing up to a party and being able to chow down on anything and everything there, but it's way more fun than not getting to eat at all. You can also have a really nice, substantial snack before you leave, so you don't feel deprived.
No matter what kind of messages society is sending, or how many times you have to explain to Grandma that rice noodles make a perfectly good lasagna, the gluten-free diet can be very beneficial and help you live a healthier life. With all the amazing and delicious gluten-free substitutes, and foods you may not even have tried yet, you don't have to make yourself miserable, either.
Check out Peartree Bakery for some “usually gluten-filled” products and try some out! Our Nanaimo bars, date squares, granola and cookies (just to name a few!) taste delicious and some folks even told us that they don’t taste a difference between ours and the gluteny substitutes. You be the judge!