- Written by a Dietitian with Celiac Disease

Living gluten-free (GF) can be a challenge, even for a dietitian. Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that occurs in susceptible people when a protein found in wheat, rye or barley called gluten is ingested and causes damage to the celia (the cells that absorb nutrients and some medications in the intestine). Food and ingested medication cannot properly be absorbed and malnutrition results. Medication might not be absorbed and a person’s health will be compromised. Foods made with these ingredients must be avoided. People with celiac disease cannot even have a little bit of gluten. I know, I developed celiac disease about four years ago so I must stay away from gluten. There are other people that do not have celiac disease but are gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant. People with this condition may have a variety of symptoms and conditions and feel better when gluten is avoided.

In the United States, it is believed that as many as one in ten people with type 1 diabetes and one in 133 people with type 2 diabetes have Celiac Disease. Adding in the people with gluten sensitivities which the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) estimates as ten times the amount of people that have Celiac Disease, totals up to many, many people. These nine handy tips are to make life a little easier for all the people that are gluten intolerant:

1. Avoid Most Oats: Most oats grown in the United States are grown in the same fields where a gluten containing crop like wheat has been grown in the past. A little bit of the gluten containing grain may get mixed with the oats and contaminate the crop. If a gluten containing crop is grown in a field that the seed can blow into the field, the crop may also be contaminated. If machines and trucks that process or carry gluten containing foods and not cleaned thoroughly, the oats can be contaminated as well. For all of these reasons, a person on a gluten-free diet needs to avoid oats that are not certified gluten.

2. Avoid Food Cooked in Common Fryers:
People with celiac disease and gluten intolerance need to be careful of foods where gluten fried foods are fried in the same fryer as foods without gluten. Cooking temperatures do not destroy proteins which includes gluten. A pan or fryer that has not been tainted with gluten needs to be used if frying gluten-free. Ask if foods like regular onion rings or regular breaded items are used in the same fryer. If they are then the fryer or pan is not gluten-free. If this is the case and you want to order a food like French fries (after making sure the French fries do not have wheat added), ask to see the chef and request if the food can be pan fried or baked in a designated pan or cookie sheet. My experience is that about 25 percent of restaurants will have no difficulty accommodating this request.

3. Be Careful of Soy Sauce: Oriental restaurants can be a problem because unfortunately, most brands of soy sauce contain wheat. Stop by the restaurant you are thinking of dining at and talk to the chef during a non-busy time. See if the chef can make gluten-free items. Offer to bring in your own GF soy sauce. Make sure that the restaurant offers rice noodles. A gift to my local oriental restaurant of a bottle of GF soy sauce has opened the eyes of the owner and now he buys GF soy sauce to use for all people that request it.

4. How to get Along in Italian Restaurants: Please be careful of GF pizza. It may be made on the same oven rack as those with gluten. This can contaminate the pizza. At my favorite restaurant, before the owner found a GF pizza with its own pan and cutting knife, I asked if I could bring in my own GF spaghetti noodles and if he would cook it in a designated pot. He had no problem with this. He makes his own sauces which are GF. Put the sauce on the spaghetti and I am happy as a clam eating with everyone else.

5. Carry Items like GF Muffins, Small Rolls or Crackers: When everyone else is enjoying the bread while waiting for dinner, you will have your own. The benefit of this is you will know the exact carbohydrate count of the items you eat which will help with your control of your diabetes.

 

6. Try Totally GF Restaurants and Bakeries: If you find totally GF restaurants (there are not many!), dine at them as much as possible. I have been to one in Canada and two in the United States. Here is a partial list of U.S. and Canadian restaurants that are totally gluten-free:

 

U.S.:

- Senza: 2873 N.Broadway in Chicago, Illinois (773-770-3527)
- Pica Pica Maize Kitchen: 401 Valencia Street in San Francisco, California 415-400-5453
- Sherry Lynns: 836 Troy Schenectady Road in Latham, New York 518-786-7700 (Sherry Lynns is my favorite place to go for breakfast and lunch when I am in Schenectady, New York. Her restaurant is closed temporarily due to recent storms.)
- Posana Café: One Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 828-505-3969 (This was my first totally gluten-free restaurant to dine in. The food was so good that I needed to go back to eat there two days later!)

Canada:

- Frankies: 1 Main St S. Uxbridge Ontario, Canada 905-852-1011 (This was my first totally gluten-free restaurant to dine in Canada. The food made me so happy!)

Bakeries:

Go here for a list of totally GF U.S. bakeries. Also look in your area for gluten-free friendly restaurants. In these restaurants they may have a gluten-free menu or you may need to ask many questions to make sure your food is gluten-free.

7. Order GF Foods Online: It is easy to search for sites. Put “gluten-free foods buy online” in your browser and many possibilities pop-up. This makes it easy to buy new foods!

8. A Few GF Recipe Suggestions from the DiabetesCare.net Recipe Center: Of course you will need to use recipes with gluten-free ingredients. Remember if your kitchen is not totally gluten-free, make sure there is no cross-contamination:

- Bacon Spaghetti Squash
- Pesto Potatoes
- Easy Pancakes
- Cucumber Cups
- Curried Chicken Salad
- Best Ever Coleslaw Salad

9. Join GF Groups and Associations to Learn More About Gluten-Free Living: A few are listed below:

- Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG)
- Celiac Sprue Association (CSA)
- Celiac Disease Foundation
- Celiac.com

Eating gluten-free is getting easier to do. With advanced notice and proper preparation, you can eat an amazing amount of dishes prepared deliciously gluten free!