A gluten-free diet often relieves the symptoms of celiac disease, but getting into a rhythm with gluten-free grocery shopping might take some time. Knowing what to look for at the supermarket makes it easier to avoid foods that contain gluten. The variety of special gluten-free products also helps you find options that work with gluten-free dietary restrictions.
The labels on food provide key information when buying for a gluten-free diet. A label that displays “gluten-free” does not guarantee the nutritional value of the product. Read the other nutritional information to determine if the item is a good fit for your diet. Items labeled as “wheat-free” don’t necessarily fall under the gluten-free category, as they might contain other grains that have gluten, like barley or rye. Some foods that would be gluten-free are processed on the same equipment as foods containing gluten, which could result in cross-contamination. Look for a warning on the label about these conditions.
Naturally Gluten-Free Foods
Many foods are naturally gluten-free, making them easy choices for your grocery shopping list. Whole, fresh foods often fall under the safe category for those eating a gluten-free diet. Lean meats, legumes, dairy, fruits, vegetables and poultry are examples of foods you can safely add to your shopping cart. Grain and starch foods become confusing. Gluten-free foods that fit into this category include potatoes, rice, corn and most corn products, quinoa, tapioca, buckwheat and amaranth.
When you start shopping the processed food section, you run a higher risk of choosing foods that contain gluten. This is where the food labels are essential in choosing foods. Read the label to look for ingredients that contain gluten, such as wheat, rye, barley, bulgur, spelt, graham flour and semolina.
Pasta, cereals and baked goods are often offenders when it comes to gluten. Most of these items have gluten-free versions available at the store. Most of these specialty products add the “gluten-free” designation prominently on the packaging, making them easy to identify. To make these processed foods gluten-free, manufacturer’s use other grains that don’t contain gluten. For example, you might find gluten-free pasta made from quinoa, buckwheat or corn. Instead of flour tortillas, choose corn tortillas. These products do typically cost more than the gluten-containing counterparts, so your grocery bill will increase if you continue buying processed foods.
Grocery shopping is only one aspect of buying gluten-free foods. You might find yourself dining out or wanting a quick meal. Whether you buy prepared food from a deli, restaurant or other source, it is more of a challenge to know exactly which options are gluten-free. Some restaurants have special gluten-free menus, but there is still a chance for cross-contamination during preparation. Explain your need for a gluten-free meal and be very specific about how you want the meal prepared.
The beginning stages of gluten-free shopping are often the most tedious, because of all the label reading. As you become more familiar with the lifestyle, you’ll start to learn which brands or types of food are gluten-free. Keep a list of the basic gluten-free foods you use in the home to make shopping easier. You’ll also learn which grocery stores offer the most gluten-free products at the lowest prices. The Celiac Disease Foundation also offers lists of specific foods that are gluten-free.
Eating homemade foods give you more control over the contents and enables you to better stick with the gluten-free diet. You’ll also save money over buying the specialty gluten-free products available at the supermarket. If your local selection is limited, talk to the supermarket manager to ask about ordering in more variety of gluten-free products.