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Going Against the Grain

By: Kristen Gunther for Health Beauty Life

What ’s up G?

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it is reported that more than 2 million people in the United States, or 1 out of every 133, may have Celiac Disease (CD). Grocery store aisles brimming with gluten-free goodies and CD diagnosed celebs like Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Zooey Deschanel make the wheat-free craze hard to ignore. With the upswing in new diagnoses and the increased attention to a gluten-free diet, we decided to look into the growing g-free lifestyle.

It’s a G Thing

What is gluten, you ask? Gluten is the common name for the protein found in wheat and related grains, rye and barley. Foods that contain wheat or related grains include bread and other baked goods, cereals and pastas. Gluten allows dough to rise before baking, helps bread keep its shape and offers a chewy, absorbent quality.

Defeat by Wheat

If you experience discomfort such as bloating and gas when eating products containing wheat, barley or rye, there is a chance you have a gluten intolerance. Although harmless to long-term health, a gluten intolerance can cause mild pain or irritation that can be easily avoided by skipping the bread basket at dinner (and avoiding other g units, of course).

G.I. Woe

Gas, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, weakness, and even male and female infertility and behavior changes such as depression and irritability are some of the primary symptoms of Celiac Disease. Stools may be bulky, loose, and more frequent. The damage to the small intestine also makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, leading to anemia and/or osteoporosis and other disorders resulting from malabsorption.

Bootin’ the Gluten

Think you’ve got a gluten problem? Talk to your physician. A specific celiac blood test and a biopsy of the small intestine might be recommended. A person seeking diagnosis must be following a daily diet that contains gluten for at least 4 weeks in order for test results to be accurate. Another tidbit about diagnosis: the onset of CD can occur at any time in a person’s life. Once a person is diagnosed, family members should be urged to get tested as well.

Giving up the Dough

How to treat gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease? One sentence: adhere to a gluten-free diet. Going gluten-free means a lifelong commitment to intense label reading, menu researching, and nit-picking and diligent grocery shopping. Luckily, many food manufacturers and restaurants have hopped on the g-free bandwagon and offer CD friendly foods.

Where to Dine When You Have Celiac Disease

No need to skip dinner with friends… feast at one of these national chain restaurants offering gluten-free menus….but take responsibility for what you eat and don’t forget to ask questions.

  • P.F. Changs
  • Outback Steakhouse
  •  Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
  •  BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse
  • Bonefish
  • Chilis
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • The Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Wildfire
  • Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill
  •  Biaggi’s
  • Boston Market
  • Carrabbas
  • Cheeseburger in Paradise
  •  Garlic Jim’s
  • On The Border
  • Uno Chicago Grill
  • Great Harvest

Label Shark

These food manufacturers offer gluten-free fare that is so tasty, even your non-CD friends might be tempted to raid your pantry!

Amy’s Kitchen • Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods • Food for Life Baking Co. • Cherrybrook Kitchen, Inc. • Van’s International Foods • Pamela’s Products • Nature’s Path Foods • Annie’s Homegrown Naturals • Authentic Foods • General Mills • Blue Diamond Growers • Sunshine Bakery

Breaking (up with) Bread

In addition to restaurants and food manufacturers making an effort to ease the struggle associated with a g-free lifestyle, most grocery stores now provide labels on gluten-free finds to help CD shoppers navigate. You would be surprised by how many foods you can eat in your gluten-free diet! And just because you said bye-bye to bread, doesn’t mean you are stuck eating lettuce…Get your carb on with these g-free grains and starches:

Corn • Potatoes • Rice • Tapioca (derived from cassava) • Amaranth • Arrowroot • Millet • Montina • Lupin • Quinoa • Sorghum (Jowar) • Sweet Potato • Taro • Teff • Chia Seed • Yam • Bean •  Soybean •  Nut Flours

Buckwheat

(not related to wheat; pure buckwheat is considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet but shop with caution: many commercial buckwheat products are mixtures of wheat and buckwheat flours, and thus not acceptable)

Gram flour

(derived from chickpeas; not the same as Graham flour made from wheat)

Oats

(there is a bit of a controversy around the safety of oats for those with CD because many times the oats are contaminated by being processed on the same machinery as wheat. Check labels to see if your oats are guaranteed Gluten Free)

For more information about Celiac Disease, check out www.celiac.org.

Posted in: Health & FitnessSummer 2011
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