At first, finding enough safe and wholesome foods that won’t break the bank at the supermarket can seem daunting. Currently, the FDA is working on gluten-free labeling standards, but until then, Alice Bast, who following her diagnosis went on to become the president of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, offers this advice.
Get label savvy
As gluten-free food becomes a bigger seller, grocers are increasingly providing dedicated gluten-free sections. Some store managers can supply you with a list of gluten-free packaged foods found in their aisles. iPhone apps, such as Is That Gluten Free? (midlifecrisisapps.com), also make finding gluten-free brands easy. A caveat though: Products labeled “gluten-free” can be just as devoid of nutrients as other processed goods. Choose items with few added sweeteners and that are made with whole grains such as brown rice instead of processed carbohydrates such as white-rice flour.
Gluten can sneak into a dizzying array of foods and ingredients. And “wheat-free” doesn’t necessarily mean “gluten-free”—other grains, such as spelt, rye, and barley, contain gluten. Until you become an expert on the many guises of gluten, take along a detailed list of off-limit foods and iffy ingredients. Or arm yourself with “The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide” available at triumphdining.com. Take a tour of a supermarket or natural food store with a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease, Bast suggests. And once you find your go-to brands, “always double check the ingredient lists to be certain the company has not altered their manufacturing to include a gluten-containing ingredient that could ruin your weekend,” she says.