More and more people are avoiding gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and related grains. An estimated 2 million people in the United States have celiac disease and an alarming 20 million suffer from gluten sensitivity. With these disorders, eating gluten can cause an array of health problems, from indigestion and bloating to anemia, osteoporosis, fatigue and depression. Unfortunately, the only treatment is eliminating gluten from the diet. (Click here to read more about celiac disease.)
Gluten is not just in bread, cereals, and pasta anymore. With modern food processing, it is being used as a thickener, stabilizer, and seasoning, finding its way into unsuspecting foods like soy sauce, pasta sauce and even candy.
So what can you eat on a gluten-free diet?
Avoiding gluten definitely requires some time for careful shopping, reading labels and planning meals. However, there are still plenty of delicious healthy options! Not only are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, dairy, meat, poultry, and fish all naturally gluten-free, there are plenty of naturally gluten-free whole grains as well. One trendy and easy option to try is quinoa: this light, fluffy grain is nutty in flavor, packed with protein and cooks in 10-15 minutes!
From waffles to cookies, the selection of gluten-free products in the store is expanding rapidly. Remember that gluten-free does not necessarily mean healthy. A gluten-free cookie is still a cookie! Whether we are gluten-free or not, we all want to get our carbohydrates from unrefined whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables.