Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is Celiac disease and how to take charge of your gluten-free diet!

Until I began studying nutrition, I had never heard of Celiac disease. Now it is more commonly known and discussed in the media for being more prevalent than ever. Even without this disease, many are taking on a gluten-free diet in hopes of weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. I don't see it as something that should be done, unless people suffer from this disorder. Whole grains are beneficial to those who can handle them, so please do not cut out grains unless medically needed!
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the villi on the small intestine when gluten is eaten and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients from foods. It is considered an auto-immune disease, but it's cause and reasoning is still much a mystery to the dietary and medical world. We know it's genetic, but it can go unseen throughout one's life and suddenly become prevalent after a surgery, having a baby, or during a time of emotional stress. So what exactly is gluten? Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, and barley. It is not limited to foods, there are also some medications, vitamins, and even lip balms! What happens to people with this disease if they eat gluten? Physiologically, the villi (which are the hair like things attached to your small intestine) are damaged and flattened when gluten is eaten. Over time if Celiac's goes undiagnosed, they can become permanently flattened. These villi are responsible for the absorption of nutrients from your small intestine into your blood stream, and when not working properly, this can be a big problem. The person can become malnourished no matter how much they eat or how much they weigh.
There is tons to be said about Celiac itself, BUT today I am here to talk about the great gluten alternatives there are out there for those that suffer.
Personally, I do NOT suffer from Celiac, but I have friends that do. As a frequent shopper of Trader Joes, I have tried tons of different things, including some gluten free peanut/granola bars and other products that I have found to be yummy. A main problem with gluten-free foods is that they tend to be more expensive, but if you do some of the cooking yourself, there are thousands of gluten-free recipes out there, just google it! :) When it comes to every day living, it is a very hard thing to adjust to. Wheat and wheat flour is in almost everything we eat on a daily basis, and don't even realize it!
Gluten is found in:
  • Pizza
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Bagels
  • Many cereals that contain barley, wheat, rye or anything that says the word "malt" or "malted"

On a gluten-free diet you can still eat:
  • Eggs and milk products such as cheese. Some cheese and cheese spreads may contain gluten, so check the labels for additives. You may need to avoid milk and milk products at the beginning of treatment.
  • Flours and starches made from rice, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, soybeans, or tapioca.
  • Fresh, frozen, or canned unprocessed meats. Examples of processed meats are hot dogs, salami, and deli meat. Read labels for additives that may contain gluten.
  • Fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits and vegetables, if they do not have thickeners or other additives that contain gluten.
  • Certain alcohol drinks, including wine, liquor (including whiskey and brandy), liqueurs, and ciders.

They do make gluten-free breads but, the costs can be outrageous and I hear it doesn't taste great. The sad reality is that most bread and pasta products will need to be cut out of the diet when the gluten-allergy is bad, unless strictly noted as gluten free.I recommend trying Whole Foods and Trader Joes and researching most affordable prices. Trader Joe's, like I said before, has really great gluten free peanut/chewy bar things! (In the granola bar section)
Here is a website that provides a list of brands that are gluten free for all types of foods.
I wish I could be more helpful, but there's not as many substitutes out there as I thought!!
Have a happy, healthy holiday!! <3

1 comment:

  1. My sister-in-law has celiac disease, she just found out about it this year. Previously, she thought that she was lactose intolerant and would often avoid dairy but would still get sick. She's been struggling with the adjustment because she loves pizza (which still makes her sick, but now she knows why!) and bread. I'll forward the website to her.
    PS: I love reading your blog =D