Whether you have Celiac disease or suffer an intolerance, going gluten-free can be intimidating. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat and barley and is a common ingredient in most everyday foods. The moment your doctor tells you to cut out gluten you think of saying goodbye to favorites such as bread, pastries, and pasta. I’ll admit my first shopping trip left me feeling lost. It meant reading every label in detail and learning which ingredients were on the forbidden list. Come to find out that wheat flour and its affiliates can be found in everything from soy sauce to processed meats.
I often wonder how people survived back in the day, but nowadays virtually all packaged products will state whether or not they’re gluten-free. Specialty retailers such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have printable lists to take the guesswork out of knowing which products are safe to consume. Many online resources have a list of gluten-containing ingredients such as malt, grain extracts, and dextrin. For those with Celiac, it is especially important to be careful because cross-contamination can be life-threatening.
Eating in restaurants can pose a challenge because you don’t always know exactly how the food is prepared, or what ingredients are used. Many restaurants now offer gluten-free menu options and can accommodate most dietary needs. Vegetable based cuisine such as Thai or Indian is often easier to work with as they’re based around rice or potato as the primary carbohydrate.
The good news is that with time you’ll begin to know what is off limits. Grocery shopping becomes much easier, and you’ll develop your “safe” list of items. With all the gluten-free alternatives to bread, and condiments you won’t find yourself deprived and dreaming about your pre-gluten days.