Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gluten-Free: At A Store Near You

This past month, October, was Celiac Awareness Month. In celebration, here at Bashas' we focused our healthy eating messages around gluten-free all month. I was surprised at the response from these ads...I received email after email requesting the listing of our gluten-free products. This was the largest response from customers that I have received so far in 1.5 years. I've decided to do this post as a Q & A because it will give you an idea of some of the questions that were fielded this month.

Q: How common is celiac disease?
A: 1 in 133 people have celiac disease or approximately 1% of the global population. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats.

Q: How do you know if you have an intolerance to gluten?
A: Often times, but not always, individuals with a gluten intolerance will suffer from chronic digestive problems. There is a blood test that can screen for celiac (however, it is not 100% diagnostic). some other signs in adults that may indicate celiac disease are: anemia, arthritis, bone loss/osteoporosis, infertility, fatigue, and depression.

Q: What is the treatment for celiac disease?
A: Strict dietary avoidance of gluten-containing foods. This is the only medical treatment for celiac disease.

Q: If you are on a gluten-diet, is it ok to look for wheat-free foods?
A: Yes and No. All wheat-containing products will in fact contain gluten, however, there are other grains, such as barley, oats and rye that are still "wheat-free" but contain gluten.

If you suspect that you are gluten-intolerant, before you go to the doctor, do not go on a gluten-free diet. You need to have gluten in your system to detect for antibodies. When you go to the doctor ask for a referral to a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease.

I created this bookmark on "Following a 100% Gluten-Free Diet" for Bashas' -- find it in stores or print it online. 

There are many naturally gluten-free foods available in your local supermarket. Some of the alternative sources of carbohydrates that do not contain wheat or gluten include rice, corn, and potatoes. One of the issues with simply replacing these carbohydrates for wheat-containing products is the lack of dietary fiber (and whole grains). *

*There are some great strategies outlined by Shelley Case, RD on how to get more fiber and whole grains in a celiac diet:

A few of my favorite resources for gluten-free information include:

  • Gluten-Free Creations Bakery (Tempe, AZ) - check their website regularly because they are always hosting fun events to get the public to try tasty gluten-free products. They recently opened a second location in Scottsdale which is a cafe. If you are following a GF diet and you are visiting Phoenix, this spot MUST be on your itinerary folks!
  • Gluten-Free Checklist: I signed up for their daily email and it provides me with great inspiration for dinner ideas. Although I do not have celiac disease, I still find the recipes delicious & healthy.
  • Live Gluten Freely: This is a relatively new website that has been created by General Mills. You can sign up for e-newsletters, find recipes, search GM products that are GF and find a ton of other gluten-free resources.
Great Gluten-Free Brands to Taste!
I'm sure there are many more great gluten-free products out there -- if you want to tell me your favorite, be my guest. I'd love to learn more about great, healthy products.