When I first decided it would be best for my health to try gluten free living, I didn’t realize how many of the foods and products I consumed on a daily basis actually HAD gluten in it! What was even more disconcerting was that gluten was referenced or disguised by other names that I was unfamiliar with. I knew I had to do my research, as I was told that removing gluten from my diet would in turn alleviate my stomach issues, headache and fatigue.
HOW I FOUND OUT
I was not formally diagnosed with celiac disease – an autoimmune condition where when gluten is introduced to your body, it essentially attacks the intestines, causing little to no absorption of the nutrients you would normally receive from the food you eat. I kept complaining of stomach issues and headaches so my primary care physician recommended I take some blood tests to determine what the underlying cause(s) was/were.
The results showed that I had a high sensitivity to gluten, and remembering that my parents told me I was borderline celiac as a baby, I knew what I had to do!
I thought at first it would be easy – no pasta or bread. Little did I know that gluten can be found in everything from salad dressings to Twizzlers! After I went through about a week of “whoa is me”, I took to the interwebs to find out what my food options truly were.
I knew that whole foods were the best way to go – shopping at farmers markets and the perimeter of the supermarket. Research also showed that I needed to be mindful when looking at foods labeled as gluten-free as they may contain other not-so-stellar ingredients to replace the gluten and make it palatable.
WHAT TO AVOID
First and foremost, I was instructed to avoid anything containing wheat, rye, and barley. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 now requires brands to disclose the 8 major allergens as their common name, such as wheat, but they don’t have to do so for rye, oats and barley so be careful! Just as an FYI, the 8 major food allergens that must be listed are milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, WHEAT, peanuts and soybeans.
Wheat can also go by bulgur, couscous, dinkle, durum, einkorn, emmer, Farina®, fu, graham, kamut, seitan, semolina, spelt, wheat berry, wheat germ, wheat germ oil, wheat grass (also called triga), wheat gluten, wheat nut and wheat starch.
Barley is also known to go by hulled barley or pearl barley – especially look for the word “malt” because in most cases it is barley-derived.
Rye is really known as “rye” or in some cases triticale. Label Reading 101 helped me immensely when I was trying to find my footing with this new diet.
THE POT OF GOLD
Slowly I started to realize that there was so much that I COULD eat. Fruits and veggies were a mainstay as were the usual proteins such as chicken, beef and my beloved shrimp. We would test out different gluten-free pastas and found some delicious alternatives. The only downfall is I do have to shop in a few different places to find all of the items I’m looking for. Trader Joe’s has the best tasting (of what I’ve already tried) sliced gluten-free bread – perfect for my grilled cheese sandwiches! Fresh Market and Whole Foods are the go-to places for pasta, although Publix has been expanding their gluten-free options as well. My favorite gluten free desert is a chocolate macaron. YUM!
CHECK YOUR BEAUTY PRODUCTS!
If you are diagnosed with celiac, it is important to know what is in anything that touches your body – inside and out! Should the product with gluten enter your mouth or a sore on your body, there may be a reaction. My biggest concern is my skincare. I have dry skin and am always applying body lotion. I also have a tendency of not washing my hands after application. About a year ago I was introduced to a gluten free lotion, Dewberry Lotion and was curious to see how it worked. Not only is Dewberry certified gluten-free, it also is:
- Certified vegan
- No animal testing
- No preservatives
- No parabens
- No drying alcohols
I tried Dewberry Lotion for a week to see if it truly held up to what it promised in terms of instantly hydrating and soothing chapped skin with its plant-based oils, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I liked that it didn’t have a strong smell to it, actually it was almost odorless in nature – perfect as to not clash with or overpower my perfume. Another thing I appreciated is that you can use it for your body AND face. I was skeptical at first because I didn’t want a lotion that was strong enough to hydrate my legs to clog my pores. It didn’t! I didn’t experience any breakouts and actually was pleased with how light the lotion truly felt on my skin. Dewberry also contains natural hyaluronic acid, beta glucan and caprylic acid which are used to retain moisture, reduce wrinkles and regenerate skin cells.
I have to say, Dewberry Lotion provided all that it promised AND I don’t have to worry about accidentally ingesting any of it. Dewberry Lotion is sold online.
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