Guide to Gluten-Free
Gluten-free products have grown in popularity in recent years, mostly due to an increased diagnosis of celiac disease. It is estimated that 1 out of every 133 Americans has celiac disease, which is a genetic disease that is triggered by gluten-containing foods.
So what is gluten, anyway? Gluten is actually just a natural protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Foods and ingredients made from these grains may also contain gluten. For example, flour, rye bread, graham crackers, wheat pastas, beer, breads, and most cereals contain gluten.
When a person with celiac disease eats gluten-containing foods, the body reacts negatively to the gluten resulting in various symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, and/or abdominal pain. Other symptoms such as nutrient deficiencies, mood disturbances and skin disorders may also arise.
If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, then it is important that you follow a gluten-free diet. Avoiding gluten is the primary treatment for this disease. However it is not recommended to follow a gluten-free diet unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance by your healthcare provider.
If you suspect you or someone in your family may have this condition, please visit your doctor for further evaluation before beginning any diet changes.
3 Simple Steps to Gluten-Free
- Choose products that use whole gluten-free grains such as buckwheat, millet, quinoa or sorghum. Potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, plain white rice, plain brown rice, plain wild rice, flax and legumes are also great carbohydrate-rich foods that can be used in place of gluten-containing foods at meals and snacks.
- Eat a variety of foods. Follow the new USDA MyPlate method of building a healthy plate, while using gluten-free grains and foods. Make half of your plate mostly veggies with some fruits, three servings of dairy daily (or dairy substitutes if sensitive to dairy as well), and at least 8 cups of fluid daily. Choose lean meats, beans, legumes, eggs and reduced-fat cheeses for proteins.
- Check out all of the gluten-free baked goods, pastas, mixes, crackers, chips and cereals that are available and use those in place of gluten-containing foods. It’s easy to find these foods at BI-LO – just look for our Gluten Free Nutritional Tag on hundreds of qualifying products throughout the store!