How to use the online tool to shop for gluten-free foods
When a friend or relative asks if you have any gluten-containing food in the pantry, you may be tempted to say no, but it may not be wise.
You’re not alone: about 40 percent of Americans say they have gluten allergies and more than half say they don’t know if they have any.
This is according to the latest Pew Research Center survey, which finds that one in four Americans, or 19.5 million, are either not aware they have allergies or that they are not eating enough gluten-based foods.
But it’s not just the elderly who may not know.
The latest Pew survey found that more than 40 percent (41 percent) of Americans age 50 and older are unsure if they eat enough gluten.
And as we learn more about the role gluten plays in health and disease, we can learn more.
Here are some tips to help you avoid being overwhelmed by gluten-related questions and concerns.
Keep it simple and familiar: Ask your family or friends if they’re gluten-intolerant and what they eat and drink.
It’s a good idea to have one list for all the gluten-sensitive foods you eat and beverages you consume.
You can also look up gluten-safe foods by name or the ingredients list, if you want to.
The National Gluten Information Center recommends that you keep these lists handy in case you’re unsure.2.
Identify the foods that can trigger your symptoms: For those who are allergic to gluten, you’ll want to know how your body reacts to certain foods.
For example, if a certain ingredient in a recipe triggers a reaction in you, you might want to read up on how that ingredient is processed.3.
Look for foods that have been gluten-tested: Some gluten-sensitizing foods are tested for gluten, but they aren’t always tested in a lab.
This means that there’s less research to support their safety.
For those foods, you can also ask the manufacturer to test them for gluten.4.
Look up gluten products online: The American Gluten Allergy Foundation has gluten-testing kits available online.
These kits will help you get an accurate list of the ingredients you should be avoiding if you are gluten- sensitive.
You’ll also need to keep a gluten-exposures list of all the products that you’re avoiding.5.
Know the symptoms of gluten sensitivity: Some people who are gluten sensitive experience a range of symptoms including: joint and muscle pain; bloating; fatigue; joint swelling; rash; and diarrhea.
These symptoms may be symptoms of a real allergy, or they may be a side effect of a medication that contains gluten.
Learn more about what causes gluten sensitivity.6.
Get the help you need: For anyone with a gluten sensitivity, it’s important to seek out appropriate medical care and follow up with a specialist.
If you have a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or has other health problems, it may be helpful to get them tested for celiac disease and/or an autoimmune disorder.
Find out more about these conditions.7.
Be cautious: Even if you don’t have a specific gluten-reactive illness, you should still avoid foods and drinks that are known to trigger gluten sensitivity and other symptoms.
If there’s any concern about gluten sensitivity symptoms, consider eating less gluten-laden foods, or avoiding gluten-rich foods altogether.