Special Publications Editor Mary Creel, RD is giving us insight into going gluten free, just in time for Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Mary, herself gluten-sensitive, has been exploring the vast, new world of gluten-free foods.
May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Celiac disease affects 1 in 133 adults, but some experts believe that only 1 in 8 people are clinically diagnosed. That means 3 million people may have the disease and not know it. People with celiac disease react to foods made from and containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Symptoms vary from person to person, but most are gastrointestinal related.
The growing use of new wheat products—many with forms that are more difficult to digest—may be why “gluten sensitivity” is on the rise. As the gluten-free trend has become more popular and more of us are becoming aware of it, you may stop and wonder if a diet without gluten is worth biting into.
You are doing yourself a favor if you replace heavily-processed gluten containing foods with more nutritious whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans. Some of the most nutrient-dense whole grains (buckwheat, amaranth, brown rice, and quinoa) are naturally gluten-free and loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. So if you hear people claim they’re feeling better, a big factor is that they’re simply choosing healthier foods.
As recently as 5 years ago, gluten-free products were only available in health food stores and on the Internet. Walk through the supermarket today, and you’ll notice more shelf space devoted to gluten-free foods, including cookies, crackers, and cereals. Read the label because not all are nutrition bell ringers.
One gluten-free food we like: Meet Dr. Lucy, an M.D. and mother of a child with severe allergies. What began as a mother’s tasty recipe for her child has today developed into a delicious alternative for people with or without special dietary considerations. Her cookies have a crisp flavor, delicate, light airy texture and don’t taste gritty. Oat and garbanzo bean flour make these a healthy, gluten-free treat for about 45 calories per cookie. The varieties include Sugar, Cinnamon Thin, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, Ginger Snap, Maple Bliss, and Chocolate. We preferred the Cinnamon Thin and Chocolate Chip, but we enjoyed trying all of the flavors. They’re available in over 7,000 stores nationwide, or you can go to drlucys.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Throughout Celiac Disease Awareness Month, we’d love to know what some of your favorite go-to gluten-free products are and what it is you like about them.