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The basics of going gluten free
by TeenHelp May 5th 2016, 09:30 PM

The basics of going gluten free
By Nicole (eumoirous)

The Celiac Disease Foundation notes that only about 1% of people have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Because of this, people with celiac disease abstain from consuming gluten in order to stay healthy. The Celiac Disease Foundation also notes that roughly 18 million Americans have some form of a gluten sensitivity, and can benefit from going gluten free as well.

How to know if you should avoid gluten
Some symptoms of a sensitivity to gluten include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss. If you think you may be sensitive to gluten, try cutting it out for a few days and see if symptoms improve. If they donít, visit your doctor and ask them to test you for celiac disease. If the result is positive, avoiding gluten can remove the symptoms and improve your health.

Gluten free food options
It is important to read labels when purchasing new foods at the supermarket. Gluten can be hidden in the ingredients and you may not even realize it is in the food. For example, some salad dressings contain a wheat product in them. The Celiac Disease Foundation notes to watch out for:
  • Wheatberries
  • Durum
  • Emmer
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Farina
  • Farro
  • Graham
  • Malt

Luckily, finding out you are sensitive to gluten does not mean you have to give up all grains. Quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat do not contain any gluten. Additionally, there are now many gluten free flours at the supermarket that you can bake with. Some options are rice flour, potato flour, and tapioca flour. Rice flour makes an excellent replacement in recipes that call for wheat flour.

When going gluten free, there are still a lot of other foods you can eat such as fruits, vegetables, meat, legumes, and rice. Going gluten free does not mean your diet has to be restrictive, and it doesnít mean you canít still eat a variety of foods. When going out to eat, Mexican food is a good option as many of their traditional foods do not contain gluten. If you are going out and aren't sure there will be food for you, make sure to bring a snack. A few examples are carrots and hummus, nuts, apple slices and peanut butter, and popcorn. Don't be afraid to speak up and let people know that you have a gluten sensitivity. Your health is what is most important.

When you first cut out gluten, it is helpful to have some resources for meal ideas. There are many gluten free meal idea videos on YouTube. Additionally, Pinterest has countless recipes. You can also purchase a gluten free cookbook such as The Healthy Gluten-Free Life, or Against the Grain. Lastly, you can join an online gluten free forum where you can talk to other people living a gluten free lifestyle and get some tips.

Common myths
  • Everyone can benefit from excluding gluten from their diet. For anyone who doesnít have a sensitivity, following a gluten free lifestyle will not yield any benefits. Whole grains are very healthy and contain many vitamins that we need in our diet.
  • A gluten free diet is healthier. People eating a gluten free diet can actually lack certain vitamins needed as well as fiber, so it is important to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist as you make the transition.
  • You can lose weight by going gluten free. Many gluten free products at the supermarket contain more sugar and fat than their non-gluten free counterparts. It is important to check labels and stick to whole foods.

As celiac disease has become more well-known, more people are getting diagnosed. This means that more gluten free products are being introduced in the supermarket, and restaurants are including more gluten free options. Discovering you are sensitive to gluten doesnít have to be a bad thing and you can still enjoy many foods to stay healthy.
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