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Diet Series: Gluten Free Pitfalls : July 27, 2011

For Susan Sprehn it started with an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“I’d eat and feel like I had indigestion, or I’d eat and just not feel right after I ate, its like hmm I better get this checked out.”

The diagnosis: Celiac disease, which hinders the small intestine from absorbing nutrients. A dietary fix can eliminate the problem.

“Patients who are diagnosed with celiac disease have to avoid a protein called gluten and gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley,” says Marjorie Chutkin Clinical Dietician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Going gluten free takes work.

“You can imagine if you’re used to eating bread, crackers, chips all kinds of stuff that contain gluten and suddenly you find that you cant have them anymore then it becomes an issue for you,” says Marjorie.

Label reading is a must for celiac sufferers, the grocery store can be a minefield of hidden gluten. Even products you don’t suspect can sabotage your diet.

“For example, potatoes don’t have gluten in them but you have flavored potato chips they may have gluten in them because of the flavoring,” says Marjorie.

Processed foods are the biggest pitfalls. Things to look out for: ‘stabilizers’, ‘fillers’, and ‘binders’.

“Frozen French fries for example may have gluten in them because they use that flour around the fries so that they don’t stick together,” says Marjorie.

Susan plays it safe, shopping for gluten-free labeled products and doing a lot of home cooking.

“One of the things I had to give up pretty much was pie until I figured out how to make a crust I can eat.”

Her gluten free lifestyle is now easy as pie.