While about 1% of the population have been diagnosed with celiac disease, more than 10% of adults report suffering from a non-celiac gluten sensitivity and avoid gluten to address their symptoms. These individuals often feel better when avoiding gluten, but how do you know if this is something that you should consider?
An elimination diet is the best way to determine whether gluten is a factor in your symptoms. Food sensitivity testing can also be done. If symptoms disappear during the elimination phase, and then reoccur when gluten is reintroduced, that’s a good indication that you reacting to the gluten in your diet.
The elimination part of the program is crucial to determining your sensitivities as symptoms often occur hours to days after ingestion creating difficulties in making the association with the food eaten. Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include: bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea/constipation, nausea, reflux, headache, brain fog, anxiety, joint pain and skin rashes.
When embarking on a gluten-free diet, it can be easy to mistake the marketing label “gluten-free” as a green light to include a product in your healthy diet. Unfortunately, many of these products are just as processed as their gluten-containing counterparts. In addition, many gluten-free formulations are more expensive. So, if you want your gluten-free diet to be both healthy and affordable, follow these tips the next time you are out food shopping.
Focus on Foods That Are Naturally Gluten Free
This is my top recommendation as there are so many fantastic and delicious foods that never contained gluten, to begin with! Vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, organic/antibiotic free poultry, and wild fish to name a few. If you are interested in finding out how easy it is to eat naturally gluten-free, download this completely gluten-free meal plan, without having to buy any expensive specialty “gluten-free” products.
Buy Produce In Season
Buying local produce in-season has multiple benefits. Since these foods do not have high transport costs to reach the end user, they are both less expensive and have a lower environmental impact. The short distance from farm-to-table also allows the produce to be picked ripe. This also avoids prolonged storage that reduces nutrient levels (vitamin C levels are particularly affected by this). Attending your community’s weekly farmers market, or ordering from a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) provider are great ways to get local produce at a reasonable price.
Avoid Packaged Goods with Unrecognizable Ingredients
It’s a great idea to become one of those people that read food labels. This arms you with the knowledge of what you’re eating and also helps you avoid accidental exposure to gluten. To keep your diet healthy, if you see ingredients on the label that you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize, put the product back on the shelf!
As a reference, here are a few common products to watch out for when trying to avoid gluten. More details can be found at the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Grains containing gluten
Foods that often contain gluten
- Granola bars
- Processed Meats
- Soy products
- Prepared burgers
- Brown rice syrup