All this talk about Gluten-Free, Celiac disease, gluten-intolerances, allergies, and sensitivities got you completely overwhelmed and confused? What is Gluten? How do I know if it’s in my food? What can I eat? How do I avoid it? Where do I shop for products? Do I have to give up pasta, bread, and everything else I love eating? Are you ready to live a gluten-free lifestyle or maybe now you don’t really have a choice? Here’s how to figure out if living a gluten-free lifestyle is right for you.
Not feeling too well lately? Not sure what’s really going on? Headaches, low energy, bone and joint pain, IBS, inflammation, or skin disorders? Any or all of this sound familiar? Most people would never think of a gluten sensitivity or even Celiac disease. But if you’re having one or more of these symptoms chronically, it quite possibly could be exactly what’s going on.
It was once thought you had Celiac disease or a wheat allergy if you had a hard time digesting any products containing gluten. That’s not necessarily the case today. As more and more fillers are being put into our foods, we’ve watched the health decline in Americans and as well as across the world. Children are suffering and developing chronic health problems from their daily diets. In 2002, the New England Journal of Medicine review linked 55 different disorders of gluten. “Now, 1 in 141 people have Celiac disease and 83% are unaware they have it,” says The Mayo Clinic.
So, how do you know if it’s truly a gluten issue? During digestion, the body’s natural defense system reacts to the gluten proteins by attacking the lining of the small intestine. Without a healthy intestinal wall, the body cannot absorb adequate nutrients which can result in osteoporosis, infertility, delayed growth, auto-immune diseases, and even cancer.
Always talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing these kinds of health concerns, you can ask for a blood test or see your allergist for a prick test. But, you can also self-test by trying the “elimination diet.” By eliminating gluten products from your diet for 2-4 weeks, you can track your symptoms to see if they improve, then start reintroducing gluten foods back into your diet to see if your symptoms return. If your symptoms come rushing back then there’s a pretty good chance you have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten.
Gluten-free diets are all the rage right now! And there is a 4.2 billion dollar industry promoting these products. How do you know if you’re really getting gluten-free? Learn to read labels. You’ll be surprised where gluten will hide, sauces, marinades, MSG, imitation meats, vitamins, pharmaceutical-grade medications, even lipstick and cosmetics.
The best way to avoid gluten filled foods is to stick to whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, dairy, meats, and gluten-free grains. Not sure which grains are free of gluten? Try quinoa, wild rice, corn, millet, buckwheat, and sorghum. Oats are often cross contaminated with wheat and rye so make sure to buy gluten-free whole oats, and avoid rye, barley, wheat, faro, spelt, and bulgur. Gluten will also hide in items such as food starch, caramel coloring, malt vinegar, and hydrolyzed plant proteins. Learn to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, that’s where you’ll find your whole foods. And you can also look for the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) Certified Gluten-Free seal. This seal indicates that the manufacturing facility was inspected and the product is certified gluten-free. Here’s one of my favorite gluten-free recipes. It’s simple and quick to make and it’s perfect for jump starting your day. It’s packed with protein and nutrients, it will help keep you feeling fuller longer, and it’s delicious too!
Raisin Walnut Quinoa with Spiced Fig Chutney
- 1 cup quinoa sprouted or cooked
- 3 cups filtered water if sprouting
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup walnuts
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves-chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
If sprouting quinoa, make sure to rinse well. Soak with water for 3-4 hours or until quinoa sprouts. Or bring water to a boil and quinoa, cover and remove from heat until all the water is absorbed. Add all ingredients. Wait till quinoa has cooled before adding ingredients if cooking.
- 1 garlic clove-minced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- ¼ cup red onion chopped
- ½ teaspoon jalapeno-seeded
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup fire raisins
- 2 cup fresh figs (can’t find figs-sub whichever in season fruit you like)
Add garlic, ginger, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, olive oil, and raisins in a bowl. Mix well. Quarter figs and add to top of chutney. Combine quinoa salad and chutney together and toss well. Serve cooled.