As a parent, learning how to shop for a gluten-free diet can be a little overwhelming, but, rest assured it is manageable with some practice and a few simple tips. Nowadays, shopping for gluten-free food is much easier than it used to be. With the growing awareness about celiac disease and other conditions complicated by gluten, the gluten-free market has expanded across most grocery stores and even in restaurants. Although there are more options for gluten-free products, making sure the foods you buy do not contain gluten or gluten-containing ingredients can still be a challenge. In this article, you will learn a few simple tips to make shopping for a gluten-free diet a little easier.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store first
All non-processed foods, such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products, eggs, and meat, are located around the perimeter of the grocery store. These items are great to add to your gluten-free shopping list because they are 100% naturally gluten-free. When planning your meals for the week, start with these items to make meal planning and shopping easier.
Head to the gluten-free foods aisle next
Most grocery stores now have sections dedicated to gluten-free foods, and even shelf labels to indicate gluten-free foods, which can reduce the pressure of finding gluten-free cereals or gluten-free products that kids like. Products labeled “gluten-free,” must adhere to the August 2014 ruling established by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the food item must contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten. This labeling can be a quick, convenient way to narrow your food options and have peace of mind.
Choose high-fiber gluten-free grains
Many gluten-free products on the market contain low-fiber alternatives, such as corn, tapioca flour, rice, and potato flour, rather than high-fiber options such as wheat. These alternatives can lead to constipation when only consuming these low-fiber options. Instead, choose high-fiber options such as whole-grain brown rice or look for gluten-free alternatives that contain amaranth, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and millet to add much-needed fiber into your child’s diet.
Look for added gluten in processed foods
Convenience items that are pre-packaged or ready-to-eat, frequently contain gluten-containing additives to increase freshness. Many sauces and seasonings also contain gluten, so be sure to know what words to look for on the label to identify these gluten-containing ingredients.
Always, always, always read labels
Following a gluten-free diet is not always easy. Reading and decoding labels is key to a successful shopping trip. For newly gluten-free households, printing out a list of ingredients that contain gluten can be helpful when reading long labels that have unfamiliar words. For products you have researched and previously purchased, or if it is a traditionally gluten-free brand, always check the ingredient list for any changes. Often, food manufacturers tweak their products and this can sometimes make the originally safe product not gluten-free anymore.
Remember that “wheat-free” doesn’t mean gluten-free
This can be an easy mistake to make when beginning to buy gluten-free foods. Gluten is also found in rye and barley, so a product that is labeled wheat-free may still contain gluten.
Decoding food labels
Decoding food labels can be challenging, especially when most of the words in the ingredients are unfamiliar. With much practice, time, and patience reading labels will become easier and easier. Skip any products that contain any of these ingredients:
● Malt flavor
● Malt extract
● Malt vinegar
● Brewer’s yeast
● Oats (if the product is not labeled GF)