Celiac Awareness Month – Eating Gluten-Free

The August dog days of summer lead to a back-to-school September transition, but October seems to be the month when the whole country gets serious again. Not only is it National Cookbook Month and Vegetarian Awareness Month, it is also Celiac Awareness Month! Celiac disease is a serious issue where your body reacts to the protein, gluten. Think of it as a potentially life-threatening allergy. People who have true Celiac disease (and fortunately it is still a small percentage of the population) violently react to gluten resulting in a host of digestive symptoms along with weight loss, anemia, bone loss and more.

But those who suffer from Celiac disease aren’t the only ones who should avoid gluten. More and more people are diagnosed with gluten-intolerance every day, and have to avoid all gluten containing products like those made from wheat, rye, and barley. It sounds simple, but isn’t always. If you have been diagnosed as gluten intolerant or having Celiac disease you also have to look out for the following “hidden” ingredients in your food:

  • brewer’s yeast
  • yeast extracts
  • malt flavoring
  • malt vinegar
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • many vegetable gums and food starches (including modified food starch)

Also avoid these food products:

  • beer and ale
  • gin, rye, whiskey and some vodkas
  • root beer
  • wheat, bulgur, couscous, durum flour, farina, kamut, wheat germ, semolina
  • purchased gravies (wheat used as thickener)
  • imitation crabmeat
  • processed meats like hot dogs, bologna, canned meats, sausage
  • soy sauces
  • many purchased BBQ sauces
  • catsup/ketchup
  • many cocoa mixes
  • French fries
  • ice cream
  • sour cream
  • taco seasoning

Why are gluten intolerance and Celiac disease increasing? Some is due to better diagnosis. But I believe that it is also because gluten is lurking in so many products where we least expect it. Take French fries for example. If you make fries at home from scratch what do you use? Potatoes and oil, neither of which includes gluten. But pre-packaged fries (used by all fast food and most other restaurants) almost always have a vegetable starch coating which keeps them from getting soggy when cooked. As a result, our bodies are constantly being bombarded with additives and other ingredients we don’t even know we are eating!

How do you know what is ok to eat? You must become a persistent label-reader. In addition to avoiding all of the above ingredients, be sure to avoid anything made from the big three; wheat, barley and rye. Oats are usually ok, but may be contaminated since they are often processed in facilities that process wheat. It is also a good idea to avoid most processed foods. Processed foods almost always have hidden wheat, soy, dairy, fish, and other allergen ingredients. Stick to as many all-natural products as possible – at least then you know what you are eating! We have put together a booklet, small enough to fit in your purse, to help at the grocery store. I originally designed this booklet for one of my consulting clients. Word of mouth led to people calling me up and asking for a copy.

Ingredient Guide

Ingredient Guide

The guide price is $2.50 but you can get a copy for FREE. Just go to our website, sign up for our free online healthy tips newsletter,  leave your name, mailing address, and Avoid This in the comments section. We will send you an Avoid This guide in the mail.

Wine Barrel Gourmet also offers these  other gluten-free products:

  • Red Wine Lentil Soup, Red Wine Split Pea Soup, Red Wine Vegetable Bean Soup
  • Savory Red Wine Sauce mixes; Country Cacciatore, Mama’s Mediterranean, Sweet Orange Valenciana, Barbeque Ragout
  • Red Wine Salad Dressing mixes: Sunny Greek Vinaigrette, Italian Rosemary Vinaigrette, and Creamy Parisian Herb
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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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