Many more people are beginning to choose a gluten-free diet for the various health benefits it can offer. If you think that lifestyle might boost your health, you'll need to change the way you shop when you visit your favorite grocery store. Ruth to the Rescue checked with local dietitian Gail Posner of Healthy Ways Nutrition to see what you need to know if you're shopping gluten-free for the first time.
Posner says the first step is to think about natural foods.
"All your natural fruits and vegetables are wheat free, gluten free. Fresh meats, fish, eggs, milk, these are all gluten or wheat free," Posner said.
Next, Posner says get to know your grains. Wheat, barley and rye all contain gluten, so these should be avoided. Instead, she advises shoppers to look for some alternatives.
"Things like quinoa, amaranth, even buck wheat, even though it has the word wheat in it, doesn't contain the wheat that is disruptive," Posner said.
Gluten-Free Labels, Read the Fine Print
Many stores are looking to help people who need to, or choose to, eat gluten-free. They carry products that are clearly labeled gluten-free and some highlight those products even further. Ruth to the Rescue went shopping with Posner at the Hiller's store in West Bloomfield.
"We have been pushing the category strong for a little over 13 years," said Justin Hiller, Vice-President of Hiller's Markets. He showed us the labels on the store shelves that help shoppers find the gluten-free products they need. "Gluten-free is more popular than ever. We're at a point where we have upwards five to 10 thousand items inside the store."
While those labels eliminate some of the guesswork, Posner recommends reading the fine print if you're also trying to eat healthy and watch your weight. Some manufacturers add other ingredients to make up for the lost gluten.
"Is it a high-sugar product? That's not going to be healthy for you. Does it have a lot of fat in it? Does it have that awful partially hydrogenated oil in it? Buy a different product," she recommended.
Gluten-free products can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but Posner says you still have to do all the other things that come with good health.
"You still have to watch your calories and get exercise in. Consume lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It's not a magic weight-loss cure."
Beware Gluten Surprises
Shoppers should also be on the lookout for products they might not expect to contain gluten, like salad dressing, soy sauce, and beer.
The good news is that people are likely to see more gluten-free options on the shelves.
"This is a real lifestyle that is here to stay," Hiller said.
If you'd like to talk with Gail Posner of Healthy Ways Nutrition about going gluten-free, her website is www.gailposner.com.
She also suggests these websites for more information on the gluten-free lifestyle: