Gluten Free by Necessity!

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A year ago my younger daughter, Danielle, began experiencing significant stomach aches and gastrointestinal distress. She was losing a lot of weight and was absolutely miserable so our doctor tested her for food allergies and found that she has an allergy to gluten and yeast, among other things. This has necessitated a complete change in the way our entire family eats. When one person has a food allergy it’s very difficult and can be dangerous for the person who is allergic if I’m cooking the things they’re allergic to right next to the gluten free items. Also, I have to be extremely careful not to use the same cooking utensils, for example, when I’m making gluten free and regular pasta side by side I have to be careful not to use the same spoon to stir the two pastas. In addition, I have to be careful not to confuse the non-gluten free item with the one that contains gluten, and often they look exactly the same.

I found that it was easier just to switch the entire family and for the most part we all eat gluten free now. Many gluten free substitutions are available now and they taste very good to us. Most of the time the family can’t tell the difference and don’t even ask what they’re eating, although sometimes Danielle will clarify that what she’s eating is in fact gluten free because it tastes so good that she’s sure I accidentally gave her gluten by mistake! Many delicious gluten free options exist on the market now, especially when I go to a health food grocery store, although the traditional grocery stores now have more gluten free options as well. Health food grocery stores are a better fit for my family so that’s where I shop most of the time. I now use gluten free bread, pasta, bread crumbs, flour,etc, and I carefully read the ingredient list at the store before purchasing items, because I have come to find that MANY things contain gluten that were surprising to me, like tea bags and salad dressing. In fact, quite a few prepared foods contain gluten so I am a very careful ingredient reader in the store, but I don’t use many prepared foods anyway because I prefer to make food from scratch whenever possible.

What’s really convenient is that at my local health food grocery store, Earth Fare, the shelves containing gluten free items are wooden and the ones containing gluten items are metal so I can quickly go down an aisle and visually scan for the gluten free items without having to read every ingredient on every product. My daughter has an app on her iphone called scan avert app in which she enters her dietary restrictions, for her it would be gluten free of course, and then she can scan the barcodes of products and it will inform her whether it complies with her diet. It’s a very cool way to keep her safe!

Another danger for her is when it comes to eating out at restaurants. Restaurants hide gluten in lots of food items so I always make sure she asks for a gluten free menu (which most restaurants have readily available) as soon as we sit down so that she can peruse her choices. She has another useful app on her iphone called “find me gf” which shows her gluten free restaurants around our area. Of course eating gluten free is not just for those with gluten allergies; in fact many people are forgoing gluten these days and feel much better for the absence of gluten in their lives. In fact, I read that 70% of people have some kind of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity so many of us could go without gluten and will probably find that we feel better.

I began to have some gastrointestinal issues this past winter and on the advice of my doctor I began eating gluten free as well. I found that my stomach feels better now and I actually have more energy too! Danielle and I both take probiotics, which helps to aid our digestive tracts to function more effectively, but for both of us the biggest difference has been achieved by cutting out gluten in our diets. Try it and see if it helps you live a life of vitality, like Valerie! 🙂

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