Quick Tips For Gluten-Free Shopping

To avoid gluten, you basically need to stay away from its sources:  wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. But in a world where cross-contamination and food additives are a norm, here are some quick and dirty tips to keep your gluten-free shopping and meal planning easier and simpler. Keep this in your backpocket at all times to keep safe against gluten.

Go Natural

  • Fruits: fresh, frozen or canned.

Double Check: For dried fruit, check the label for gluten containing additives

  • Vegetables: fresh, frozen, or canned.

Double Check: Frozen potatoes are not always gluten-free. Read the label for additives.

  • Meats: fresh, or frozen.

Double check: marinated, or processed meats like your sausages, tocino, tapa. Check label  for additives.

  • Cheese & Dairy: all-natural cheese are naturally gluten-free.

Double Check: processed cheese, like cheese spreads

  • Nuts & Seeds: unseasoned or in shell. 

Double Check: seasoned cocktail nuts and seeds

  • -Beverages: 100% fruit or veggie juice, water. Avoid malted drinks and beer.

Double Check: yogurt, pre-mixed shakes, cholocate and milk drinks, smoothies 

Befriend the Label

FDA only allows packaged foods with less than 20ppm of gluten to be labeled “gluten-free” , so this is a good guide. But even without the gluten-free food stamp, some packaging already add helpful information on their labels, so you may know which ones to stay away from. Check the label if it has been manufactured in the same facility that also processes food containing gluten, or if the product may contain gluten.

Know What To Look For

BUT without the gluten-free label still in most packaged foods today, grocery shopping can be a much more complicated task than  we may like.  To make it easier, first, check for obvious gluten sources:

  •  Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Oats (unless specifically labeled gluten-free)

Then, the less obvious terminology that means the same :

  • Triticum vulgare (wheat)
  • Triticale (cross between wheat and rye)
  • Hordeum vulgare (barley)
  • Secale cereale (rye)
  • Triticum spelta (spelt, a form of wheat)

And look for the following terms represent ingredients that always contain gluten:

  • Wheat protein/hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Wheat starch/hydrolyzed wheat starch (wheat)
  • Wheat flour/bread flour/bleached flour(wheat)
  • Bulgur (a form of wheat)
  • Malt (made from barley)
  • Couscous (made from wheat)
  • Farina (made from wheat)
  • Pasta (made from wheat unless otherwise indicated)
  • Seitan (made from wheat gluten and commonly used in vegetarian meals)
  • Wheat or barley grass (will be cross-contaminated)
  • Wheat germ oil or extract (will be cross-contaminated)
  • Vegetable protein/hydrolyzed vegetable protein (can come from wheat, corn or soy)
  • Modified starch/modified food starch (can come from several sources, including wheat)
  • Natural flavor/natural flavoring (can come from barley)
  • Artificial flavor/artificial flavoring (can come from barley)
  • Caramel color (now considered a safe ingredient, but if you’re in doubt, check with the manufacturer)
  • Modified food starch
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein/HPP
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein/HVP
  • Seasonings
  • Flavorings
  • Vegetable starch
  • Dextrin and Maltodextrin (both sometimes made from wheat)[1]

Make your next grocery shopping experience a less stressful and less overwhelming task by being prepared. Let us know how it works out in the comments!

References:

1 Anderson, Jane. “What Terms on a Food Label Really Mean ‘Gluten’?” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 7 July 2019, http://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-identify-gluten-on-food-labels-562666.

 

Gluten-Free Dining in Sushi Restaurants

girl with sushi

 

Sushi restaurants have an abundance of items on the menu that is naturally gluten-free: predominantly composing of seafood and fish, rice and vegetables.

With that said, there are also many items on the menu that can be a source of cross-contamination during the preparation of these naturally gluten-free items – things like flour and panko used for breading of pork and chicken cutlets, and soysauce, among other things.

And so to make sure your sushi dining experience remain unspoiled by gluten, here are some tips you may want to follow:

  1. Avoid fake crab meat. Surimi or fake crab meat are made by grinding white fish and binding it with starch that are usually made of wheat. This can be found in abundance in different sushi rolls, salads and other menu items, as flavoring.
  2. Ask for Tamari  instead of the regular soy sauce. Soy sauce brands unless labeled gluten-free are risky for those avoiding gluten since the soy that is used in these has a high chance of being also processed in a facility that also process wheat, barley or rye, or it may have wheat in its primary ingredients. Thankfully there is a type of soy sauce traditionally made without wheat called Tamari. To help with communicating, you can inform the chef that you are extremely allergic to soy sauce so that it will be easier for them to take away an item that is common knowledge, rather than launching into explaining in detail what gluten is.
  3. Avoid tempura, breaded meat cuts, and other menu items that have breading. The batter used in making tempura will almost always  be made of wheat flour, except for gluten-free restaurants that guarantee using gluten-free breading. Thankfully these items are easily recognizable on the menu, being coated and fried .
  4. Avoid sushi ingredients that have been treated with marinades. Almost for certain, these items will have used either wheat, soy sauce , teriyaki sauce or other wheat containing sauces as flavoring.
  5. Bring your own wasabi. Most restaurants do not use real wasabi, but instead use a mixture of mustard, horseradish,  green coloring and other flavorings that may contain gluten. To be safe from contaminants, it is best to bring your own.
  6. If you have the option, spring for a restaurant where the sushi chef makes the meal right in front of you. You may speak to the chef or call in advance to make sure the utensils that will be used for your meal are fresh and have not touched other items that contain gluten.
  7. Japanese restaurants like other restaurants can be busy, to be on the safe side, you may also call the restaurant in advance to make sure that the restaurant will be fully staffed, and can take time to accommodate special food requests.

Let us know how your next sushi dining turns out! If you have more tips to share with our community, feel free to leave some in the comments. Happy gluten-free dining!

Don’t Go Gluten-Free Just Because

Thinking of Gluten

People who have gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance or Celiac disease have different reactions, compared to the next person, when they ingest gluten. Symptoms range from diarrhea, bloating, headaches, nausea other symptoms. Which is why it is necessary for these people to switch to a gluten-free diet.  People who don’t have these problems, on the other hand, do not have to worry about gluten in their diet.

But as of late,  we increasingly read about and hear concerns about gluten. We see restaurants giving gluten-free options, food labels in groceries announce they are gluten-free, and gluten-free versions of food seem to be lining the grocery aisles. Increasing number of people try it with different benefits in mind: to lose weight, treat autism, eat more healthily, have more energy. Going gluten-free has rapidly become the next “IT” diet.

But what is the gluten-free diet really, and what is it for? Gluten is  a general name for proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye, and triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye. As these proteins cannot be fully ingested by the body, it can cause inflammation and other negative symptoms in some people. In people with Celiac disease, these proteins trigger an immune response which damage the lining of the small intestines, eventually preventing efficient nutrient absorption from food, and can cause a number of other problems like osteoporosis, nerve damage, and seizures. A gluten-free diet  is one where you remove gluten so if you do have these reactions to gluten, you avoid these negative symptoms altogether. [1]

“People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice. They’ll simply waste their money, because these products are expensive,” says Dr. Daniel A Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston in an article published in Harvard.edu.[1]  And he is not wrong. So, before you try this diet, consider these things:

Premium Price

Gluten-free products, aare typically produced in smaller batches, and need different ingredients than their conventional counterparts. Ingredients may cost more, and making them need special knowledge on gluten-free food, and so they tend to be priced higher than their non-gluten-free versions.

Wholefoods without gluten

Eat Healthier with More options

Most people may experience a number of health benefits with going gluten-free. But these could be incidental benefits since avoiding certain elements in your diet may also lead you to eliminate other foods. You may find yourself eating more wholefoods, fruits and vegetables, as opposed to the usual processed food, pastries, pastas and cakes that generally all contain gluten. You may also find yourself being more careful about additives in your food which can lead to eating  a lot cleaner. But if you think about it, these are things you can actually do even without worrying about gluten in your diet, and you get to have a lot more food options, too.

loseweightglutenfree

Find More Effective Sustainable Options for Losing Weight

Those who claim gluten-free diet helped them lose weight or have more energy benefit from it by incidentally removing processed food from their diet, regardless of gluten content. Gluten-free food and weight loss are not synonymous, unless it helps you to “get rid of the junk” and eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are naturally gluten-free, as mentioned by Shelley Case, one of North America’s premier experts on the gluten-free diet. [2] With that said, there  are other diets out there that are targeted for weight loss, which you may consider and prove more effective for you.

Have a  question about going gluten-free? Feel free to leave it for us in the comments, or browse this blog for more tips!

1 – Strawbridge, H. (2018, January 08). Going gluten-free just because? Here’s what you need to know. Retrieved April 12, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/going-gluten-free-just-because-heres-what-you-need-to-know-201302205916

 

2 – Helms, J., MS, RD. (2012, September 6). Will Going Gluten Free Help You Lose Weight? [Web log post]. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://blogs.webmd.com/food-and-nutrition/2012/09/will-going-gluten-free-help-you-lose-weight.html

 

How to Deal With Emotions Being Newly Gluten-Free

emotion in gluten free bread

It’s the second month of 2019. How are you holding up on your gluten-free diet? 🙂

We know. Taking on a diet that is different from everyone else’s can be a challenge.

Being diagnosed with Celiac disease, or non-Celiac gluten intolerance is a positive development, since formerly mysterious symptoms that you experience can now be controlled, and you can finally take charge and live a healthier life. But with this new realization come emotions that you also in a very real way have to battle with on a daily basis: from frustration of not being able to eat what you want, to the anxiety of being excluded. 

So, how do you cope? 

The Restaurant Anxiety

sadgirlglutenfree

You don’t want to be thought of as a picky eater. As a matter of fact, you want other people to be comfortable around you while dining out. Or at least, not to be a consideration for others all the time, whenever you are dining out with friends or co-workers. This can be a cause of major anxiety for someone new to a diet not adhered to by most people around them. The feeling of social exclusion can be wearing. 

How to Deal:

Consciously and actively remind yourself of the positive effects of taking on your new diet. You would no longer have to deal with the symptoms such as headaches or diarrhea, and you are actually doing something to be healthy. Keeping a journal to write down things you are grateful for in this diet, can be a major help. If you are not used to journaling, simply creating a bulleted list tucked away in your phone, which you could peruse when you feel anxiety bubbling up, could be the difference between an anxious lunch and a relaxed one.

If you are not yet very skilled in scouting what’s gluten-free on a standard menu, make some time to know which Gluten Free restaurants are in your school or around your workplace. In a group setting, there will almost always be a pause to consider where the group is dining out. Occasionally be the one to suggest a place where you know there are options for you. A place where people with regular diets can be comfortable, too. Focus on the fact that you are simply suggesting somewhere to eat, not being picky. Other people may even thank you for being quick about it.

Frustration: I can no longer eat everything I want.

minimuffinonhand
Frustration of not being able to eat what you want is one of the major emotions to deal with when first starting out on a gluten-free diet. You have done your research and now have the list of what to eat nailed down. But along with that is acquiring an even more vast knowledge of what you cannot have. Watching other family members chow down a nice regular sandwich or that delicious cake is an experience you will be very familiar with.

How to Deal: Realize that flavor is not synonymous with gluten. There are delicious gluten-free options available for you, as well. As you get more acquainted with this new diet, you will very soon try a myriad of different food options that will be very agreeable with your taste buds, as well as your diet. Food that you will even crave for. That sandwich? You can have one at home with your own gluten-free bread. That cake, well think, “I’ll buy one from that gluten-free place I know, or even make it one better: I will make one myself in that yam flavor I cannot get just anywhere. It will be delicious.”

The Grocery Battlefield

girl in gluten free shopping in store

Unarmed, it can be very intimidating walking into a grocery store not knowing what to put in your shopping cart. Looking at the back labels of food can make your grocery shopping take twice as long.  It can leave you shrouded in misery going up and down the aisles looking for but not finding exactly the things you need. It’s not unusual to feel yourself welling up with the overwhelming emotion and stress of it all.

How to Deal:  Firstly, know your enemy. You can read our previous post on what to watch out for in a Filipino grocery store, such as stealth gluten. Being fluent in gluten vocabulary can immediately shrink the stress of complicated food label reading in half. Easily spot gluten, and easily eliminate it.  You can also make this chore more convenient by first doing some scouting online. You can have gluten free food delivered to you at home from shops that offer a wide range of gluten-free options and can drop it right to your doorstep.

Being on this new gluten-free diet is a definite change and you would have to deal with different emotions that go along with it. But at the end of  the day, what would make this gluten-free transition a lot easier for you is allowing yourself to lean into them. Everyone on this diet will have similar experiences as you. Just like gluten in your diet, you can take control of it and soon eliminate them from your life. 

How do you deal with your own emotions in this diet? Feel free to share it with us in the comments! 🙂

Sugar-free & Gluten-free Ideas for Halloween!

image6

In our diet, it’s not always just gluten we’re worried about, right? On Halloween, along with our concern for gluten, we also have  just as important, if not much more pressing health concern during this time of the year: sugar.

Parents out there, tempting as it may be to let loose a bit and let your kids go with all the rainbow colors of candy, we must remember that too much sugar has actual consequences to a child’s health.

It is not just the sugar rush that we’re talking about. Sugar has a much more negative effect on the body that is important for us to know.

image4Dental decay is an obvious one. Sugar is known to speed up breakdown of teeth as it fuels the bad bacteria in the mouth. Though younger kids naturally lose their baby teeth, it is important to take care of them as you would permanent ones as the bacteria on the surface of baby teeth can attack the healthy ones still under the gum surface, which can adversely affect their growth by the time they’re ready to come out.

Study also finds sugar lowers the immune system to up to five hours after consumption. Ever notice that close to midnight or when you’ve been up all night, eating sweets has the effect of making your throat scratchy and making you feel like you’re coming down with something? That’s because sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bad bacteria in our bodies.

image2

Sugar as fructose  and glucose that are in abundance in Halloween candy also has the effect of make one feel famished. Munching on sweets makes your brain resist leptin, which is the protein that help signal the body that it is full. Anytime sweets are introduced in the diet, it makes it easier to eat too much. Partnered with the fact that sugar is highly addictive, it can lead to complications and diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Though Halloween is just one night a year, letting kids loose on sugar, and having candy in the cookie jar for weeks after, can introduce kids to sugar eating habits and that would be extremely harmful for them in the long run.

Here are a few tips to make this Halloween a little less about the sugar and a bit more about the fun:

image5

Consider giving out inedible treats like Halloween accessories like glow sticks, colorful bracelets, that they can have fun with while out in the streets at night. Just remember not to give out things that little kids can choke on. You don’t have to worry about  sugar here, and gluten, even.

 

 

Have the tradition of a contest of who can bring home the most candy. That way, kids will have the motivation not to eat any of the candy until they get home, so that you may get a handle on what and how much sweets your kids actually consume.

image3

Though a bit more out of the way, if you are visiting houses of people you actually know, like friends or relatives, have a deal with them to give out healthier and sugar-free (and gluten-free!) treats to your kids, or prepare something you yourself approve of, and hand them out to house owners before you set out for the night with your kids. It can just be between adults.

Remember that sweets and edibles during Halloween can just be a portion of the fun. Make other fun highlights such as creating costumes, decorating, and storytelling with your kids, that will focus more on the activities rather than the sweets.

Remember, with your kids health on the line it pays to keep the effort to be healthy even on Halloween. 🙂

Mother and Daughter Painting a Pumpkin

 

References:

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser, H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, R. E. Willard, P. J. McMillan, S. Y. Cho, A. R. Magie, and U. D. Register. – Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. – The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc. 1973., Copyright © 1973,http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract\

The Skimy on Obesity – UCTV Prime http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=23717

 

Quick & Easy Breakfast Ideas

Let’s face it: most of us hardly ever have time for a proper meal in the morning. Whether it is to squeeze in a few extra minutes of shuteye before heading off to our day, or our to-do lists are simply too long  to make room for a pause in the morning. So, we racked up a few practical ideas here that you can try as quick breakfast options sans the need to deal with your gluten allergy, or celiac disease symptoms. It’s important to keep your energy high first thing in the morning to get things done, don’t you agree? And gluten should be one less thing to worry about at this most important meal of the day.

Eggs

gluten free breakfast eggs with asparagus

Sunny side up, scrambled, or made into a nice omelette, you cannot go wrong with this breakfast item. You can mix in your selection of veggies, add basic spices and herbs and you can have a filling meal in a matter of minutes. A quick trick is to boil a couple of eggs, peel them, dice and mix in with tomatoes, asparagus, a pinch of salt and pepper, and you’re good to go. Healthy, quick, and hassle-free.

Fruits

gluten free breakfast fruits

This seems like a no-brainer but if your time is scarce, you can forget a basic gluten-free item like this. Ready to eat fruits are convenient, and the quickest of quick meals. Make a berries mix, or grab a convenient apple, or a couple of bananas, or dalandan (they’re one of the remaining cheap ones you can find around street markets or groceries around Metro Manila), before going out to run your errands. If you’re really pressed for time, you can finish these while on a drive, or at your desk at work.

Gluten-free pancakes and waffles

gluten free pancakes with raspberries

This is great if you have gluten-free flour lying around. If not, you can also do mashed banana, mixed with gluten-free oat flour, and eggs as replacement. Fry these in a bit of oil, add some berries, or pour into your waffle maker and finish with syrup. You can even make a sandwich out of these with nice spread or fruit filling. Pack them in sandwich bags and you’re done!

Gluten Free Sandwich or Toast

gluten free sandwich

Gluten-free breads are now thankfully easier to come by. Drop by your healthy food store or look for gluten-free breads online. We have a selection for you at GERALD.ph and you can get them home delivered. If you’re serious about eliminating gluten,  this should already be a staple item in your pantry.  Spread a nice jelly filling, peanut or other nut butters, or chocolate spreads. 

Why not try these to rev up your day unglutened? Let us know how it works out! 🙂

Fight Hunger Pangs Safely with Gluten Free To-Go Meals

One of the more challenging things to confront when dealing with food intolerance and sensitivities are the moments when your caught unprepared hungry. (You know that feeling when you just have to eat something or you’ll pass out?) This occurrence is pretty common and sad to say, this is also when we’re more susceptible to ingesting gluten, because there simply isn’t time to be picky!

Avoiding this can be done with sufficient meal planning, and always having your go-to food item in your fridge, or in your bag, prepared wherever you may be. Here are some terrific ideas you can try so that the next time your stomach grumbles, you’re covered.

  1. Food Wraps

This is terrifically easy to make in advance. Make 4 to 5 wraps, put them in a lunch pack, or a zip lock bag, and save them in your fridge for later.  Lettuce wraps, with seasoned and sauteed meat, and seafood, with a little gluten-free dressing, is a convenient option.

gluten free wrap
Image: EatingWell.com

 

Here’s a great recipe from Eating Well that you can try out:  Gluten-Free Peanut-Chicken Cabbage Wraps.

  1. Sandwiches

Gluten-free sliced bread is heaven sent for these food grubbing moments. If you have gluten-free spreads on hand, just slather it on your bread and you’re good to go. There are a lot of excellent gluten-free spreads options around, more common are are peanut butter, gluten-free chocolate spreads.

gluten free sandwiches

A great selection of gluten-free breads and spreads ise available here.

 

  1. Gluten-free bite-sized cookies and muffins

glutenfree muffins

Bite-sized snacks are great to take with you wherever you go. You don’t have to worry about them spoiling even days at a time in your bag. Put a jar of cookies on your desk at work, or a bag of muffins in your gym bag. Rice cakes or breads made with almond flour or sorghum flour instead of wheat are great. Delicious for nibbling, and guaranteed won’t make you sick because they are already tried and tested.

  1. Naturally Gluten-free snacks

If you want to minimize processed food, it is a smart thing to go with naturally gluten-free food so that you also don’t consume way more sugar, salt or additives that aren’t really necessary, just to address your hunger pangs. Have a piece of fruit handy in your bag, those that pack easily in your bag like an orange of a piece of apple. Try also bags of unseasoned nuts or seeds.

apple and orange gluten free snacks

  1. Meal Plan

If you know exactly what you are having daily for the next few days, and already have them prepared during the weekend, then you can definitely minimize the risk of untimely hunger. Having complete sets of meals for the day already planned out: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between, will make sure you’re complete satiated for the rest of the day.

The Celiac Disease Foundation has on their site a 7-day gluten-free meal plan that you can use as guide for your own planning.

Excellent! So next time you are feeling hungry, save yourself from another episode of enduring effects of gluten ingestion.

Was this list helpful? If you have your own suggestion from experience of how to safely coast through the day gluten-free, give us a shout out in the comments! 🙂 Have a great weekend, everyone!