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  • Writer's pictureJessica Gradel,DC,MS,L.Ac

Eating Smart when Gluten Free

Being gluten free for many who have celiacs, hashimoto's thyroiditis, and other autoimmune diseases that respond well to a gluten free diet is not a choice. 20 years ago the food options were bland at best, today there are new options appearing daily but not all gluten free options should be consider healthy. Junk food is junk food even if it is has the gluten free label. Having Celiac's myself I figured I'd share what I have learned on the this wild journey that stated when I was diagnosis ( finally) at 25 years old.

Gluten Free is not synonymous with healthy

Often times gluten free foods are unhealthy in that they have more added sugar, additives, stabilizers , and in word overly processed to imitate gluten containing baked goods. Just like any other meal plan it should be primarily composed of fresh produce and fresh lean meats. Items that are processed to extend their shelf life can still be part of a healthy diet if used in moderation.

Gluten Free Cookies, Crackers, Pasta, and Breads are not Diet Foods

They contain the same if not more calories than their everyday counter parts. Their is a misconception that because these foods lack gluten that they must be healthier and or contain less calories. This is false. Gluten free snacks, cookies, pasta, and breads should be treated just like normal simple carbohydrates and be eaten in moderation if at all.

Just because the manufacturer says it is "Natural Gluten Free"doesn't mean it was processed in a gluten free environment.

This was hard won knowledge. Unless there is a third party stamp stating certified gluten free, beware, beware , beware cross contamination on the production line is a problem for many celiacs. To be care the gluten free label the FDA requires that the product contain less than 20 ppm post production, however Manufacturers are not required to test for the presence of gluten in ingredients or in the finished “gluten-free” labeled food product. However, they are responsible for ensuring that the food product meets all labeling requirements. Manufacturers will need to determine how they will ensure this. Thus foods with third party gluten free certification were created and have become the a requirement to many gluten free shoppers.

Eating out is always playing Russian Roulette

Finding a certified gluten free bakeries and restaurants are like finding a diamond in the rough ( Louisville has two or these gems "SillyAxe" and " Annie May's Sweet Cafe ") meaning absolutely no gluten containing items are kept on site. Most places do offer gluten free options on their menus though which can make things tricky. Some place will use separate cook wear in designated gluten free zones to prepare foods while others may not. Take for example french fries, naturally they are gluten free, but if they are seasoned, deep fried with other "breaded" items on the menu, or come into contact with surfaced that gluten contain food was placed the chances of cross contamination is higher. Again it is a matter of understand the kitchen's procedures, knowing your own sensitivity limits, and understanding eating at restaurants is often playing russian roulette at best.

Gluten Free Takeaways

1) Remember to look for these labels

2) Some manufactures label gluten free and state if they do batch test for gluten

3) Naturally gluten free foods should state if they are manufacture in a facility that also handles gluten

4) Understand the risk at restaurants and choose items with the least cross contamination risk

5) When in doubt at restaurants ask.


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