You visit the doctor regularly to maintain your health. That’s certainly smart. Before your next appointment, however, consider this: when was the last time your doctor asked about your diet?
Although physicians are perfectly aware of the connection between our health and the food we put into our body, this is a question they rarely, if ever, pose. They appear to be more interested in prescribing medications than treating and preventing health problems in a more natural and effective way.
This is especially disconcerting as more and more people suffer from a wheat sensitivity, allergy, or celiac disease. The problem with wheat is caused by gluten, one of the proteins found in modern-day wheat. It can damage the small intestine and make digesting wheat difficult or impossible. It can cause fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and other, more serious discomforts, such as damaging the small intestine. Celiac disease is serious, and physicians need to start paying attention.
Processed wheat, which is found everywhere, isn’t healthy for anyone. For people with celiac disease, it can be a daily nightmare. That is why going gluten-free is becoming increasingly popular. People are learning the effects of modern wheat and are starting to take control of their own health.
For people who are sensitive or allergic to wheat, going gluten-free can be life-changing. It can help them rid the body of irritating toxins and help them function normally again. For others, who are not gluten-sensitive, abstaining from gluten is a way of eating healthier, feeling better, and having more energy.
Food matters. What we consume is critical to our health. The fact is, gluten adds little to our lives but can cause considerable damage. Going gluten-free is a return to eating in a way that promotes optimum health and wellbeing. For anyone who believes that we have been eating wheat for thousands of years without a problem, you will soon learn why that is incorrect.
Even for those who are not suffering from celiac disease or wheat sensitivity, a gluten-free diet can be prevention against disease. Gluten is known to cause serious inflammations, and inflammation can increase the risk of arthritis and coronary diseases.
Using food to prevent the onset of these problems enables us to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. This makes far more sense than treating diseases with medications that can have harmful side effects.
Gluten is all around us, which can make going gluten-free quite a challenge. With so many food items made of wheat, barley, or rye, all of which contain gluten, and with more food products containing hidden wheat, the idea of eating gluten-free may seem like deprivation. Quite the contrary. You can still eat the cookies, cakes, and pasta you love. You will simply be preparing them differently.
If you are suffering from celiac disease, going gluten-free is a must. But other intestinal issues, such as diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome have also been relieved with a gluten-free diet.
Researchers are linking more and more gastrointestinal problems with gluten.
Anyone who believes that gluten-free is just a modern phase is half- right. It is indeed something new and modern. But it is not a phase. An increasing number of people are suffering from the effects of modern wheat and refined flour.
The degree can vary – from a bit of wheat sensitivity to greater intolerance to celiac disease, which is the inability to process any amount of wheat due to problems in the small intestines. Especially in the case of celiac disease, the digestive system views gluten as invaders and reacts accordingly. As it tries to attack these toxins, the lining of the gut itself can become damaged, resulting in leaks, inflammation, and other problems. Serious gastrointestinal problems are the result.
SHOPPING FOR GLUTEN-FREE FOODS
When you begin to shop gluten-free, it can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. You might panic about missing out on your favorite meals. It may seem that there is nothing for you to eat. You’ll quickly find, however, that is not the case.
Finding delicious foods that are gluten-free is easier than you think. You are likely to find a few tasty food options that you haven’t considered. Once you know what to watch out for, you’ll master the supermarket aisle like a gluten pro.
Besides, if one or more members of your family is gluten-intolerant while the rest are able to eat wheat, don’t prepare separate meals.
Gluten-free meals are NOT a punishment, and anyone suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance should not be made to feel guilty or different. Omitting gluten from your diet is eating healthy, and that is something your entire family should be doing.
HAVE A PLAN
Your trip to the market starts with a list. Walking up and down the aisles can lead to serious temptations. Supermarkets are deliberately designed to tempt you and lure you into buying things you don’t need. You don’t want to roam randomly. Before you leave the house, before you even create your shopping list, plan your meals.
Don’t approach meal-planning negatively, as in, “Oh, I can’t eat pasta … bread … cookies.” Eating gluten-free is not about subtracting and deprivation. It’s all about eating better. Plan the meals you enjoy and think in terms of substitutions. How can you improve this recipe? For example, if you want to prepare pasta, do so. Simply plan on using zoodles (zucchini noodles) or gluten-free pasta in your preparation.
Feel like baking some cookies for the kids? All you need to do is substitute wheat-free flour in your recipe. We’ll discuss substitution later in this book. One or two gluten-free cookbooks will provide you with inspiration and help you understand how delicious gluten-free meals can be. They are an excellent investment.
Think in terms of variety. The greater the variety of food you eat, the more nutrition you consume. And don’t forget about herbs and spices, most of which are quite nutrient-packed. Shopping gluten- free will expand your food world.
There are many places to purchase gluten-free products. (Aren’t you lucky!). There are the around-every-corner supermarkets, specialty stores, health food stores, outdoor farmers markets, and online. By all means, make yourself available to all of these options. However, make the supermarket your main shopping place. There are reasons for that.
First, gluten-free is catching on, and most markets now carry gluten-free products or have an entire gluten-free aisle. The deli section is likely to offer a number of gluten-free items. By shopping at the regular market, you won’t feel that you are shopping “differently,” and that is psychologically important. You’re not different, you’re just smart.
Any farmer’s market, of course, is a treasure trove of healthy produce, so you definitely want to be there whenever possible. As for specialty health food stores and online shopping, keep that in reserve as a valuable last resort for any product you can’t find in stores.
Now that you’ve planned your meals, you are ready to create your shopping list. Keep in mind that prepared and pre-packaged foods frequently have hidden sugars and gluten. If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer for more details. In addition to bringing your shopping list, you should also have a gluten-free food/ingredient list for interpreting difficult labels.
We recommend that if possible, you shop without young children, whose sticky little fingers invariably reach for chocolate, cookies, and other snacks with abandon. You need to maintain control of the shopping situation.
Some of the most popular, gluten-free, wheat-free flours are as follows:
- Coconut flour – a great baking flour
- Corn flour – made from corn and used in baking and coating.
- Oat flour – when made of natural oats, oat flour is gluten-free.
- Brown rice flour – this is easy to digest. In addition, pasta made with brown rice flour is your best alternative to the standard white-flour pasta. There is white rice flour, as well, which is gluten-free. However, the white type of rice flour has been polished of most of its vitamin B and important minerals. It won’t harm you, but you won’t get the same nutrition that you would with brown rice flour.
- Almond flour – made from healthy nuts. Almond flour can be used in almost any kind of baking.
- Tapioca flour – this isn’t really a baking/cooking flour. It is frequently used as a thickener for sauces and to create a roux.
- Chickpea flour – this healthy flour contains needed fiber and minerals. It is best used for pancakes and waffles.
- Sorghum flour – this is a heavy flour. When used in baking, it is frequently combined with tapioca flour.
- Cassava flour – this flour contains few nutrients other than vitamin C, but it can easily be used for baking.
- Amaranth Flour – this is a nutrient-packed flour that, like sorghum, can be mixed with another flour for baking.
- Buckwheat flour actually isn’t a flour, but a very healthful seed. Great for making pancakes.
- Teff flour – another flour that can be used with other gluten-free flours for baking.
- Cricket flour – this is actually made from roasted crickets, but don’t let that keep you from trying it. It’s nutrient-dense and has a nutty flavor.
- All-purpose gluten-free flour – this is made from a combination of the above flours and can be used for all-purpose baking.
Great for cookies and baking.
Gluten-free cooking offers you lots of choices, and you should experiment to see which flour works best for you. Flours made from coconut or almond can lend a delightful flavor to your baked goods.
A word of caution: When flours are displayed in bulk, there can be some cross-contamination when a customer uses the same scooper to bag gluten and non-gluten types of flours. If that is a serious concern, get your gluten-free flour from a market or a health food store that has a separate gluten-free section, or order through the internet.
You and your cart, which is getting pretty full, have made it to the dairy section. Notice that you are still wandering the perimeter of the market instead of roaming the aisles.
Milk and dairy do not contain gluten but be careful of additives. Yogurts and ice cream can contain all types of flavoring, so read the labels carefully. And, as previously stated, any item labeled “diet” or “low fat” is likely to contain gluten fillers.
If you’re in search of snacks, you are likely to end up in one of the aisles. Check ingredient labels carefully. As an alternative, prepare your own tasty snack by mixing gluten-free granola with chopped nuts or dried fruits.
When you arrive at the meat and fish section, you are in a gluten-free zone, except for the prepared and coated meats, which you will ignore. Focus on lean meats and fish to prepare tasty and healthy meals. I would keep it simple and focus on meats, fish, and vegetables as your main food sources.