How To Have A Gluten-Free Diet
Because of our dependence in the Western diet on wheat, and to a lesser extent oats, barley and rye, gluten is contained in many of the foods commonly eaten.
What Ever Gluten Is It Must Be Tasty!
The hard part of cutting out gluten from the diet is that the alternatives do not taste and cook the same as wheat! Some gluten-free breads leave a nasty after-taste that even toasting the bread cannot help! Reading labels must become a part of shopping! Gluten can be a hidden ingredient in many common foods. Malt, glucose, food additives, and vitamin supplements may all contain gluten. Lipsticks and postage stamps too!
The Good News
Food manufacturers have tapped into the growing market for gluten-free foods. For those with a gluten sensitivity or those who want to reduce the intake of gluten, there has been an explosion of foods available in the past two years. Prices too have subsequently fallen. Restaurants are also increasingly offering modified choices.
More Good News
Because wheat flour is often an ingredient in pre-packaged cakes, biscuits and doughnuts, in reducing consumption of these and in increasing fruits and vegetables, intake of fats and sugars is thereby lowered. The subsequent positive side-effects of weight loss, reduced intake of harmful trans fats, and brighter skin help to balance the inconvenience!
For those with Coeliac’s Disease, dietary requirements include increasing:
– fibre-eg. rice, beans, peas, potatoes, lentils.
– iron-eg. eggs, chicken, seafood, green vegetables.
– folate-eg. orange juice, leafy green vegetables.
– B12-eg. eggs, milk, fish, meat.
– Vitamin C-eg. citrus.
What To Eat Now?
Reducing or eliminating gluten from the diet may seem a daunting task, that ends with a bland variety of foods, but with the ever expanding choice of suitable foods, it’s getting much easier! It’s more a question now of learning new choices.
Road-testing lots of different products has uncovered several that make the transition smoother, and some of these have been included, to pass on the benefit of our trial and error!
Prices are generally higher than the equivalent products containing gluten but careful shopping can reduce this discrepancy.
Breakfast-Corn or rice-based cereals. Cornflakes, Rice Bubbles etc have reduced gluten but may contain small amounts so may not be suitable for coeliacs. The “Healthfoods” section of the supermarkets now has an ever-expanding range of gluten free foods including rice puffs and corn puffs! Freedom Foods has a range of alternatives that taste good. Lowan has less of a range but is more economical.
Lunches-Supermarket bought ready-made breads tend to be heavy, crumbly, often sweet, and sometimes with a strong after-taste! Prices tend to be 2-3 times that of regular bread. Boutique bakeries offer gluten-free, again for a price. Several companies offer packet mixes now. More economical, the mixes (Springhill) have a lovely texture and flavour and do not take too long to make. The mix is also good for pizza bases. Using other forms of flour tends to give a crumbly base. Polenta dishes are a versatile idea for lunches and dinners.
Dinners-Made from scratch, dinner is probably the easiest meal to put together, as wheat, rye, barley or oats are not as prominent as ingredients. Tacos (Mission Foods), soft or hard shells are versatile. Rice flour or rice crumbs (Orgran) can be used in place of breadcrumbs for schnitzels. Pasta has made its way from the Healthfood section to the general aisles. San Remo makes several varieties. Buontempo (Healthfood aisle) is very economical and has a light texture. Boutique companies are increasingly offering gourmet alternatives. (Pasta Riviera, Celos).
Desserts-Several brands now make packet cake mixes and pancake mixes, including Woolworths, who also make a range of biscuits. Freedom Foods have several delicious, though more expensive fancy biscuit varieties. Orgran pastry mix works well in pies, both sweet and savoury.
Snacks-Could include corn chips, alone or as nachos, or with dips; rice crackers-plain or flavoured-many brands make these-check packets though for whether they are gluten-free; rice cakes-plain or flavoured-check packets; boutique bakery items (Old Time bakery, Kez’s) such as cakes and biscuits.
Restaurants are increasingly offering more items suitable for coeliacs though they need to be wary of cross-contamination of food from communal cooking facilities.
Many of the major take-away chains now also offer gluten-free alternatives, such as McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, Nandos, Muffin Break. Ask in store for the choices avaliable.
The Coeliac Society offers support and advice for sufferers.
The Gluten-free Food Show will be held on 2-3 October in Melbourne, at the Melb Convention Centre.