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Gluten-Free Shopping Tips

April 20, 2018

Celiac disease or not, here are some rules of thumb for healthy shopping from Alexandra Anca & Theresa Santandrea-Cull, authors of Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide:

1.            Buy fresh food! What could be healthier and more wholesome? The beauty of the gluten-free diet is that most fresh foods are also gluten-free. Fruits, vegetables, fresh meats, poultry, seafood, dairy, legumes, and fruit juices are the healthiest of foods and also gluten-free. Remember how your parents and grandparents used to cook? Fresh and simple.

2.            Always shop the perimeter of the store first. The less you find yourself in the center aisles, the easier and healthier your trip to the grocery store will be.

3.            Shop with a list. Save time, money, and empty calories by sticking to what you know you need. This will prevent you from wandering toward the snacks aisle.

4.            Speak up at the deli counter. If you are buying deli meat, ensure against gluten contamination by asking that the blade be cleaned before the deli clerk slices your order. Be proactive and ensure that the brands of deli meats you choose are gluten-free.

5.            Do not shop on an empty stomach. Have a snack before you head out shopping. This will make you less vulnerable to buying calorie-rich snacks like potato chips and chocolate bars — yes, many of these are gluten-free! If you can’t have a meal, plan to bring along a snack, such as a piece of fruit and a few almonds, walnuts, or soy nuts.

6.            Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables. Believe it or not, frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy, if not healthier, than fresh ones! Often they are ripe and flash-frozen at the source, meaning that nutrients and antioxidants are preserved. You can easily incorporate vegetables in soups, quiches, and casseroles. Fruits can easily be served over gluten-free waffles or pancakes, incorporated into smoothies, or mixed in with yogurt or ice cream. When the season’s over for berries, buy frozen ones without added sugars to get a taste of summer!

7.            Embrace the mighty bean. Most brands of regular canned beans are not only gluten-free but also filling, nutritious, and delicious. A cup of cooked beans is an excellent source of fiber (15 grams), folate, iron, and calcium. Beans have been linked to lowering cholesterol, reducing plaque in patients with fatty plaques in their arteries, and improving insulin resistance.

8.            Look for fiber. Lack of fiber leads to constipation and is a challenge when you’re following the gluten-free diet. Introducing too much fiber too quickly can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as gas, bloating, and cramping. Take it easy as you introduce or increase servings of quinoa, corn, pure oats, and other gluten-free alternatives to wheat.

9.            Dress up your morning cereal. You don’t need to limit yourself to plain cream of rice. Why not add some fresh or frozen fruit, raisins, plain roasted almond slivers, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds, or chia seeds? Make your own trail mix, keep it in a well-sealed wide-mouth jar, and add a tablespoon or two to your cereal or eat 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) for an afternoon snack on the go.

10.            Buy plain yogurt and flavor it at home. For many of my patients, the taste of plain yogurt just doesn’t cut it. However, the commercial brands almost always have too much sugar and empty calories. Consider adding a teaspoon (5 mL) of honey or jam to plain yogurt along with your favorite frozen berries and some cinnamon or nutmeg. It will still be delicious, and you will save both calories and money.

11.           Try delicious gluten-free baked items. Wheat is not the only grain with nutritional properties. Plenty of alternative grains are delicious and nutritious!

 

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