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April 30, 2016

Gluten free diet requires careful shopping

This past week I finally decided to try something I have been dying to do for a couple months: going on a gluten-free diet.

MCT

MCT

Gluten-free diets are a growing trend in the United States. Gluten is the protein that is responsible for keeping the elasticity in doughy products and is most commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. Think pasta. While there is nothing inherently “unhealthy” about gluten, it can cause digestive issues for people who have intolerance to the disease.

Diagnoses of gluten intolerance and celiac disease, an autoimmune disease irritated by gluten, are on the rise. According to an article in USA Today, in 2003, 40,000 Americans were diagnosed with celiac disease. Today, 110,000 people are.

Whether or not you are intolerant to gluten, cutting it from your diet can lead to a variety of health benefits. For me, the promise of easier digestion and higher levels of energy were the biggest selling points.

And it delivered. After just a few days, I began to feel lighter, more energetic and overall better.

Along with the physical benefits I felt, it encouraged me to eat more fruits and vegetables. It forced me to be creative and try out some new veggie recipes as well as make a huge batch of gluten free granola.

However, starting the diet did require a change in how I shopped. Most foods that are packaged and processed contain gluten, eliminating a good chunk of your average supermarket.

As a result, I had to be very mindful while grocery shopping. Instead of buying a traditional tortilla I opted for a brown rice tortilla. And instead of buying Ritz crackers, I grabbed quinoa-flax seed crackers. Mary’s Gone Crackers are a great pick.

Another place to be especially careful is in the bread aisle. Instead of your average loaf, pick out sprouted bread, which is made from whole grains that have been allowed to sprout. Ezekiel makes a great loaf of bread as does Udi’s Bread.

If you are looking for oats for granola, try Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats. The company also sells some great alternatives for standard all-purpose flour, such as almond flour.

Also, don’t forget to buy enough vegetables to create salads with.

One of my concerns about trying to go gluten free was how hard I thought I would have to work to find gluten free options on-campus.

As a student who lives off campus, I usually cook at my apartment but found eating on campus to be easier than I had imagined. Places like People’s Market and the Procrastination Station proved to be my best options. People’s Market offers veggies and hummus to-go, yogurt and Naked smoothies, all great gluten free options. The Procrastination Station sells a variety of macrobiotic packages making a quick lunch easy.

In the morning, fruit at Burgers 101 and Whitmore Café is an easy breakfast option.

If you are student living on-campus that eats all of your meals at the dining commons, don’t worry. They now have gluten-free stations set up there too.

For most people considering making these dietary changes, it is best to make the switch gradually. Slowly phase out some of the more egregious offenders with healthier, smarter alternatives.

Although going gluten-free isn’t for everyone, I found it extremely beneficial. I think it helped me tune into my body and investigate the ingredients of all the things I had been eating. If nothing else, it continued my mindfulness about eating.

Liz Dwyer can be reached at ekdwyer@student.umass.edu.

Comments
3 Responses to “Gluten free diet requires careful shopping”
  1. mason says:

    Does the author have celaic’s disease? I am curious because there is nothing inherently unhealthy about gluten, it’s a protein naturally found in wheat, in all wheat products. The most important food group on the food pyramid. It’s ironic that a large portion of people who are hyper-conscious food consumers tend to prefer meals high in fiber(wheat products, brans and vegetables/fruits) and whole grain products(which have higher amounts of gluten than normal wheat products).

    Removing gluten from your diet unless you have celaic’s disease has no proven health benefits. Gluten free products is just a marketed product that allows companies to charge higher prices for the same type of food including a large portion of foods which naturally lack gluten that are advertised as being “gluten free”. It’s interesting because the type of consumer who often eats gluten free product needlessly is usually the type of consumer who also believes preservatives and additives are “bad” and unethically used by companies yet they allow themselves to be swayed by baseless marketing claims.

  2. Susan says:

    I don’t have celiac disease. I do eat wheat-free. I changed my diet to wheat-free 14 year ago when following the ER4YT guidelines. In my experience, my overall feeling was improved. I felt less bloated and less lethargic after meals, and as a bonus, I shed pounds. I do think there is something to claims that there are individuals with wheat/gluten sensitivities or that some people just do better in general when avoiding it.

  3. Yes shopping for gluten free foods can be a pain, but there are other shopping stores that cater to a healthy lifestyle.

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