What is Celiac Disease and why is a Gluten Free Diet Essential for it ?

This is a question I am commonly asked as a dietitian. I have partnered with Americord to bring you answers to this controversial area.

First of all, let’s talk about what gluten is, then how it relates to Celiac Disease, and steps your family can make to accommodate a family member who has been diagnosed with this disease.

Gluten is a form of protein found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale, and many other grains  it is also found in many condiments via addition of grains such as most soy sauces, BBQ sauces, and salad dressings.

Celiac Disease (CD) which is an autoimmune disease which includes an allergy to gluten. If someone has CD, then it is essential they follow a strict gluten free diet. Even trace amounts of gluten can evoke a negative reaction. Individuals have usually had less than optimal vitamin and mineral absorption prior to diagnosis so it is always good to have a proper assessment done and determine if any supplements are advised to help with any deficiencies. In terms of food preparation, here are a few tips to keep your home GF if a family member is diagnosed with CD.

  1. Read ingredient lists well. Watch for words that indicate wheat, rye, barley, or any other grain that may contain gluten. A common one is “hydrolyzed wheat protein” in many salad dressings and other condiements. Even soy sauce contains wheat and a GF version must be used.
  2. Have a toaster that is dedicated to GF bread only. Label it and set it in a separate area than you regular toaster.
  3. Switch out wheat based pasta for rice pasta, lentil pasta, chickpea pasta, cauliflower rice, or spiralized zucchini
  4. Always have quinoa on hand that can be offered hot or cold.
  5. For oatmeal try Bob’s Red Mill GF steel cut oats. Their GF pancake mix, pizza crust mix and other mixes are also great options for a quick and easy meals
  6. For baking use a mix of GF flours as one kind alone may lead to a dense baked product but mixing a few together can be quite nice. If you are looking for a GF muffin recipe you could try this one that I have been making for years.
  7. If using luncheon meats, be aware of any fillers that contain gluten. 
  8. Offer lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as these are always free of gluten.
  9. Be sure to ask at restaurants if they offer GF options and if they ensure proper preparation techniques of these away from any products that contain gluten.
  10. If travelling, take your own GF snacks from home to ensure adequate nourishment along the way. We really like taking fruits, veggies, GF hummus, GoGoQuinoa biscuits, and BohoBars in our home.

Also, remember that consulting an RD upon diagnosis is a great idea. You can contact your local College or Dietitians to find one in your area. And as always, feel free to leave questions in the comment section below.

 

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