Friday, December 9, 2016

10 Tips for Gluten-Free Grocery Shopping: Maintaining a Gluten-Free Diet on a Budget

With January 1 just around the corner, resolving to keep a gluten-free way of life might be important given your current circumstances, but it can also be intimidating if you’re just starting out. Knowing what to shop for and where, especially on a budget, can feel impossible at times. Thankfully, there are a number of helpful resources and affordable foods to buy.

For me, choosing not to eat gluten stems from having celiac disease, a digestive condition in which the consumption of gluten is not tolerated by the body. Whether you have celiac disease, another gluten-related medical condition, or simply the desire to avoid the substance, following these ten tips for gluten-free grocery shopping can help you on your journey to achieve better health.

Before You Shop: Learning about Eating Gluten-Free

1. Identify Your Circumstances. Understanding why you’re eating a gluten-free diet will likely be the best motivating factor in maintaining the according lifestyle; it can also help guide your shopping needs and interests. With your particular circumstances in mind, identify the importance of avoiding gluten and any other dietary concerns you might have that will affect your purchasing process.

2. Locate Some Helpful Resources. While checking with individual manufacturers ahead of time is always a possibility, and sometimes a necessity, finding some general celiac or gluten-free resources can aid you in the beginning stages of going gluten-free. You can find various online and print publications tailored to specific interests and needs.

3. Do Your Research on What to Avoid. As the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) points out, gluten can be found in a number of foods, medicines, vitamins, and personal hygiene products. Avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and white flour–as well as processed foods containing derivatives of those ingredients–is essential in effectively eliminating gluten in your diet.

4. Find a Gluten-Free Friend. Whether you locate someone online or in person, find someone living a gluten-free lifestyle that can offer you some personal advice and try to answer any questions you might have. A local gluten-free friend might even be willing and able to schedule shopping trips together.

5. Identify Local Health Food Stores. As you become more comfortable with the idea of eating products manufactured with gluten-substitutes, locate organic and health food stores in your area. Calling around in your local neighborhood, as well as researching online, can help you identify any stores or markets in your area that participate in serving certifiably gluten-free foods.

At Stores: Finding Gluten-Free Foods & Choosing Between Products

6. At First, Avoid Specific Foods Rather Than Try to Directly Substitute Them. Beginning to eat a gluten-free diet may shock your taste buds. Although there are many gluten-free alternatives to traditional breads, crackers, cakes, and so on, initially turning to these substitutes may tempt you to stray from your diet. Shopping for and eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other products naturally free of gluten may help ease the transition period.

7. Always Read List-of-Ingredient Labels. Although some products might be obvious to avoid, other products can be deceivingly filled with gluten. Many candies, chips, sauces, and processed meats contain gluten. Carefully read the lists of ingredients before purchasing products.

8. Beware of Cross-Contamination. Depending on how sensitive you are to gluten, paying attention to cross-contamination warnings might also be needful. Often packages will notify if gluten products have also been manufactured in the same facility as the products you are intending to purchase.

9. Ask for Help from Someone Who Knows. If you run into any problems or bouts of confusion at a store, simply ask for assistance. Some markets will obviously be less equipped to handle questions concerning gluten, but many places can give you specialized service–but you have to ask.

When You Get Home: Staying Encouraged, Even When You Slip

10. If You Falter, Get Back Up Where You Fell and Move Forward. If you end up purchasing and eating a bit of gluten, whether accidentally or intentionally, don’t dwell on it. Realize the slip, commit to do better, and move on. Don’t get discouraged because you’re not perfect. Continue forward, doing better today than you did yesterday, and receive the health benefits awaiting you from keeping a gluten-free diet.

Source: “Digestive Diseases: Celiac Disease.”

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