Saturday, January 2, 2010

What Can I Eat That's Gluten-Free?

In many ways the hardest part of going gluten-free for life is avoiding the sneaky places that the food industry uses gluten. And, not just the food industry.

When I decided to take this journey, my husband decided he was all in to help me. For a guy who loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it was a huge concession to my health. Is it any wonder I love this guy?

So, since we were serious about this, or at least giving it a good go, the first thing we did was learn all the ways that gluten might be disguised in your food. Generally speaking, barley, rye and wheat are the main sources of gluten. Some people who are extremely sensitive to gluten also need to avoid oats because they are often processed in the same facilities.

But none of those words make it clear that malt is a barley derivative swimming in gluten. Or, that modified food starch, especially in a product made outside the United States, may mean gluten. Inside the USA, it usually means modified corn starch, but if you are hyper sensitive to gluten, skip it to be safe.

Hydrolized vegetable protein can mean gluten too.

So, when we started going through our cupboards to remove all the gluten-laden products from our house, the box of food to give away kept growing. And growing.

The websites we had consulted warned us about processed foods. That’s ok, we bravely decided, processed foods are bad for us anyway. Then we started looking at our soup. Noodle soups, well, that makes sense. Give them away.

Cream soups. Oh, flour is used as a thickening agent, give those away.

Chinese food. What? That has rice and veggies, so where is the wheat coming from? Most soy sauce has wheat in it. The exception that we have found so far? Kroger brand reduce sodium so-called soy sauce, purists would disagree, does not have any wheat in it. Yippee!

Breads and pastas. Well, we expected that one.

Medications. What? Many of the fillers used to make pills are wheat based, so check with your drug manufacturer or pharmacist to find gluten-free options.

Makeup. Huh? Again, gluten is often used as a filler. I wonder if that’s why even quality makeup makes me break out so badly?

We missed some the first time we went through the cabinets and the first shopping trip to replenish our food options was a nightmare. Who knew that most cereal, even Rice Krispies, are flavored with malt syrup?

But the most devastating discovery was the Lindt milk chocolate is flavored with malt syrup. Lindt truffles has become a staple of our movie going experiences and dessert most nights. Three truffles are not terribly diet-breaking, about 170 calories, and Lindt is so rich that three is enough to satisfy the chocolate urge.

It’s good that the Lindt discovery came after I could feel my foot. Otherwise, this change might have been doomed from the start. The good news? Lindt white chocolate is gluten-free.

After four months on a gluten-free diet we have identified a number of products that we can use and do use, but adjusting to them takes some effort.  More on that tomorrow…

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