How many people follow a gluten-free diet?
The Canadian Attitudes to Gluten-Free Study* estimates that approximately 4.3 million Canadians (12.3 per cent) have gone gluten-free, or have reduced gluten in their diets. Commissioned by Udi’s Healthy Foods, the study surveyed 2,530 randomly selected Canadian adults and also revealed that British Columbians are most likely to have made the switch (17 per cent), followed by those in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta (12 per cent in each province).
What is gluten?
Gluten is one of the proteins found naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross contaminated oats. Gluten in flour helps to provide baked goods such as bread with structure, strength and texture. Gluten can also be found in smaller amounts in foods such as commercial soups, salad dressings, sauces and other foods made with hydrolyzed wheat protein or other gluten-containing ingredients. Contrary to popular belief, spelt bread also contains gluten.
If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity it is important to follow a gluten-free diet for your health.
Removing gluten from your diet might sound simple but gluten is found in many foods in trace amounts and can also be cross-contaminated in manufacturing plants. Look for labels that promote gluten-free and if you are unsure you can contact the producer directly that is typically listed on the package to find out more.
What are some of the challenges of following a gluten-free diet?
The top 3 challenges we hear from clients we see in our practice following a gluten-free diet are:
- Remember some of the basic foods you likely already have in your household are healthy gluten-free options that supply carbohydrate needed for your brain and muscles such as potatoes, yams, corn, rice and rice noodles.
- Legumes such as lentils, chick peas and black beans are also healthy carbohydrates loaded with nutrition.
- Some foods that require minimal preparation that are easy to add into your meals include gluten-free bread, rice/quinoa crackers, corn tortillas and corn tortilla chips.
- There are many gluten-free ready-to-serve breakfast cereals as well as hot cereals that make breakfast and snacks easy. Note that oats are cross contaminated unless advertised gluten-free.
- Try the growing selection of gluten-free pasta options available such as rice, quinoa, oat or corn based pastas.
- For the adventuresome eater try some of the other highly nutritious gluten-free grains such as quinoa, millet, amaranth or buckwheat.
- For baking items such as muffins and pancakes try out a gluten-free flour recipe using an assortment of flours or buy a pre-mixed version.
2. Uncertainty of all the hidden sources of gluten in their diet
- Work with a Registered Dietitian and the resources from the Canadian Celiac Association to understand the hidden and cross-contaminated ways you may find gluten in your diet.
- Some of the common surprises for our clients that contain gluten include items such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, commercial soups/soup bases, licorice, some chocolate, some deli-meats/sausages and beer. Look for properly labeled gluten-free options of these foods.
- Some of the most common cross-contaminated foods include commercial oats (unless labeled gluten-free) as well as restaurant meals (especially those placed in a deep fryer). Use a separate toaster and condiment containers such as peanut butter, butter/margarine and jam from other family members.
3. Finding good quality replacements for some of their favorite foods such as bread, pizza, quesadillas and pasta
- An online gluten-free community or the Canadian Celiac Association is a great place to collaborate about the best recipes and reliable products.
- Many of our clients have found in the past the quality and texture of many gluten-free baked goods are poor, but the good news is that there are now so many more delicious products available that you can find at your regular grocery store.
What are some fast recipes for gluten-free menu planning?
Here are two great recipes courtesy of Stephanie Clairmont, MHSc, RD at The Clairmont Digestive Clinic courtesy of Udi’s Gluten Free.
Gluten-free Hawaiian Whole Grain Pizza Fingers http://www.healthstandnutrition.com/canadians-going-gluten-free/
Gluten-free Veggie Millet-Chia Sandwich http://www.healthstandnutrition.com/canadians-going-gluten-free/
For more great gluten-free recipes visit: www.udisglutenfree.com.