Silencing Celiac's Symptoms
Life without gluten can be just as tasty and healthy as ever.
Everyone seems to know someone who eats a gluten-free diet to help with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine when the body reacts to gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. Approximately one in 133 Americans, or nearly 3 million Americans, has celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Many have suffered for several years prior to being diagnosed and 97 percent of people living with celiac disease or gluten intolerance remain undiagnosed.
Consuming gluten can damage or destroy the villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestines—of sufferers of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. In addition, people with the disease and intolerance often experience uncomfortable bloating and a feeling of fullness. Other symptoms can include diarrhea, weight loss and slowed growth. If nutrient malabsorption continues, osteoporosis, neurological disorders and some types of cancers can result.
If you suspect you have celiac disease, it is important to consult a doctor prior to beginning a gluten-free diet, otherwise test results may be inaccurate.
Many individuals have found that a gluten-free diet provides some relief once they’re diagnosed. In the past, a diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten intolerance seemed like a dietary death sentence, but not now. With the exploding trend of new gluten-free foods and beverages hitting the market, it’s now possible to enjoy food, cook delicious meals and dine in restaurants without losing the flavor and fun.
Gluten-free definitely does not mean taste-free! In fact, several Johnson County restaurants, including SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza and Bonefish Grill make it even easier to enjoy a dinner out with family and friends with gluten-free options.
Naturally gluten-free foods include fish, poultry, plain meat, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, yogurt, cheese, milk, fruits and vegetables. There are numerous gluten-free flours, cereals and grains that can be substituted for wheat, barley and rye including amaranth, corn, rice, quinoa and potato flour.
In general, it is important to eat plenty of high-fiber gluten-free foods since eliminating gluten from the diet can also reduce fiber intake. High-fiber gluten-free foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa, rice (brown and wild), teff, flax seed and amaranth.
Here’s a quick guide to dining gluten-free.
Both wine and most liquors, like vodka and rum, are naturally gluten-free, but what many people don’t know is that there are a handful of gluten-free beers making their way onto the market. A great gluten-free brew is Redbridge, which is made with sorghum instead of wheat or barley, making it safe for individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Other top picks for gluten-free beers include: Bard’s Original Sorghum Malt Beer and Ramapo Valley Brewery’s Honey Beer. Of course, water is my top gluten-free drink.
Seafood is a smart entrée choice: it’s a nutritional powerhouse, gluten-free, loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Bonefish Grill offers three delicious gluten-free signature sauces to top any fish. You can also pack the protein and get your gluten-free grill on with pork, chicken or steak. SPIN! offers gluten-free crusts for their Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Load up on your vegetables since they are naturally gluten-free and many are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. Choosing high-fiber, gluten-free grains is also important to boost fiber intake. My top picks for sides include spinach, broccoli, carrots, kale, quinoa, wild and brown rice.
Great news for those with a sweet tooth—gluten-free baked goods are better than ever! Gluten-free baking has never been easier thanks to the large number of gluten-free flours, mixes, and recipes that are available today. Top picks include King Arthur Gluten-Free Mixes and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flours.
It’s important to remember that just because a meal is gluten-free doesn’t mean it is necessarily healthier. It’s crucial that regardless of what your dietary restrictions are that you consume the right amounts of nutrients in fresh foods to be healthy.