Removing wheat from your diet, nowadays is so much easier yet so much more confusing for someone who has real issues with gluten. Sure there are tons of options, everybody and their brother has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon in order to make a buck. The problem is very few companies are concerned with taking the proper steps in order to safe guard someone’s health. It’s all too easy to say oooppss we made a mistake and recall a certain product than actually make the effort ahead of time to prevent the damage to many celiac’s health.
Gluten free has become the fat free fad of the 1980’s and it truly is causing irritable harm to true suffers of celiac disease. It has become so confusing to understand that just because a product is labeled gluten free doesn’t mean that it is safe for a celiac to eat. So yes our grocery store shelves are literally lined with gluten free options but can a celiac really eat them? That is the question that was posed to me and I have a few tips that I’ll share that I use every time I go food shopping.
Fill your basket with food without labels….. I always start in the produce section and fill up my cart with natures yumminess. I personally buy organic produce because my thought process is my intestinal tract is already having lots of challenges no need to pour a bunch of nasty chemicals and make my issues worse.
Obviously everyone has different opinions on this and budgets. My suggestion is at the very leastto stay away from the Dirty Dozen and buy local whenever possible.
Learn to read labels and fully understand that wheat, rye, barley and gluten will not always be named in the ingredient list. There are many “other” derivatives of wheat, rye, barley and gluten that will be named. Here is a quick list to get you familiar with them.
Just because an item is labeled gluten free doesn’t mean that this product has zero gluten containing items in them. The FDA’s Gluten Free Labeling Law that passed in August of 2014, allows up to 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten in food to still be technically labeled gluten free. If you have celiac disease you will definitely still struggle with certain foods closer to the 20 ppm’s. So if you are doing your best and eating 100% gluten-free and are still having issues, it is time to take a much closer look at your pre-packaged foods because they are most likely the culprit of your problems.
Another area to be on the look out for is where was your item processed. If your gluten free labeled food, clearly states processed in a facility that processes wheat put the item back on the self. It may be fine for someone who has decided to try this new gluten-free fad but this food is NOT a safe food for you. So far from what I have found, this is true approximately 95% of the time. Back in the day, we use to actually call the manufacturer to find out their manufacturing process for handling gluten free items. Depending on the manufacturer some share equipment and may clean all the equipment in-between runs, some do not clean their equipment in-between running their gluten filled products and gluten free products. Some manufactures would not share their practices. And yet some manufactures take extreme caution and put this label on a product to protect themselves in the event that something may happen, all are different. So unless you plan on hunting down each manufacturer for a prepackaged item you enjoy, my suggestion is to stay clear of any product that is label manufactured in a facility that processes wheat when you have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive.
I actually take things a step further and look for items labeled Certified Gluten Free. Who labels these products? The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America they are a non-profit organization founded in 1974 and are a leader in the gluten free community. They have a Certified Gluten Free Organization who are a recognized authority in the quality and integrity of gluten free products. They inspect products and manufacturing facilities for gluten adherence and maintain strict industry standards and honestly at this point in my healing, I do not purchase many prepackaged products but when I do I will not purchase it without their Certified Gluten Free Logo which looks like this
and not to be confused with
Yes they are pretty similar and easy to mistake the difference when in a hurry, so please pay extra close attention. I know I've mixed them up a few times myself. :)
Some people may think that is a bit extreme and I’m totally fine with that, but they haven’t had the tons of complications that I have had after switching to living my life on a gluten free diet. The GIG has a Buyers and Distributors Guide which has truly been a godsend to me and countless other celiacs.
The longer you have been on your gluten free journey the more I have found my body craves healthier foods. Living your life full or prepackaged foods are not healthy or good for you. Yes there are some that I absolutely love however, most I can do without. So many pre-packaged foods are filled with “other” things that I don’t want in my diet like tons of sugar, preservatives so they last on the shelf longer, way to much sodium, food colorings, artificial flavorings, etc. Yes these don’t have wheat, barley, rye and gluten in them but that doesn’t make them good for me or you either. So the more I eliminate them, they more I find myself skipping most of the middle aisles when food shopping.
Hope these tips help you and one last important thought is focus on what you can eat. Far too often when we get stuck in the laundry list of what we can’t do, it only makes us feel like we want them even more. When you have celiac disease you have to find a better option for the old foods that you love first, get comfortable with some good recipes so when you are craving something specific you can have it. But over time, your diet will evolve and change and you’ll want even better options and hopefully some of the tips above will help you do that. Best of luck to you and remember to honor your journey and be proud that you are now stepping up and taking better care of your health.