Gluten-free diet requires diligent label reading

Our family has spent the last year adjusting to new food options after our oldest son was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.

We are awaiting word on whether it might be celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune illness that affects the small intestine and can lead to an inability to absorb nutrients. Some people experience symptoms such as bloating, belly pain, diarrhea, skin rashes, brain fog, fatigue, hair loss while others have minimal symptoms.

Blood screening and a biopsy are needed to confirm the disease.

We wondered how we were going to make different menus work because not everyone needed to give up gluten.

We received help from friends and family, organizations like the Canadian Celiac Association, Dieticians of Canada, Health Canada and product labelling such as GF.

The Dietitians of Canada define gluten as a type of protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley.

Many are adopting a gluten-free diet believing it to be a healthy alternative but such meal plans are only recommended for those with a medical condition and sensitivities.

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Eating grains as unprocessed as possible is a great way to get B vitamins and fibre.

If you must change your diet, do not leave a food group out, but incorporate different grain options.

Agriculture Canada reports almost one-third of Canadians shop for gluten-free food options. This number includes the 2.5 million people who must follow this type of diet for medical reasons.

More than seven million people follow a gluten-free way of eating due to perceptions of a healthier way of eating or because a member of the family has a medical need to avoid gluten.

Changing your eating plan means experimenting, talking with others and acquiring gluten-free recipes. Be sure to read labels, try alternatives and indulge in nutritious food from a variety of food sources and groups.

Our family now favours some gluten-free products more than the traditional wheat options. Glutino toasted bread with peanut butter or cheese is a family staple now.

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This website, www.celiac.ca, offers a valuable tool for shopping for certified brands. In addition, there is a smart phone app available. A print version of this resource is also available. There is also a restaurant guide for when you are dining out.

Diet alone did not completely help our son with his health concerns, but changing our laundry/cleaning and skin care products also helped.

We have found great choices like Seventh Generation, Nature Clean and Aunt Nellie’s that work well to keep our clothes clean but are non-reactive.

Cost is a factor in gluten free because such products are more expensive so shoppers will need to watch for sales.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist 
from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. 
Contact: team@producer.com.

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