Gluten-free food: who needs it, and where can you get it in ETX? | Health
The term "gluten-free" comes up frequently in conversation lately, since many of us have discovered that some of the physical discomfort we may be experiencing after eating stems from what we're eating.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck from ABC's "The View" has written a book, called The G-Free Diet, about her experiences living with Celiac disease, helping to spread awareness about the disease and how it can be treated by changing what one eats.
Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale, and very negatively affects many people. The American Dietetic Association says that one in 133 people in the U.S. have celiac diesease, and most of them don't know it. It affects children as well as adults, of course.
From EatRight.org: For children with celiac, even the slightest morsel of gluten can spell trouble, triggering the release of antibodies which mount an assault on the intestines.
These attacks damage the intestine, making it difficult to absorb many of the nutrients children need to grow and thrive. They also cause many unpleasant symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and weight loss or weight gain.
Untreated, celiac can also lead to complications such as anemia, neurological disorders and osteoporosis. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (or NCGS) is believed to be more widespread that celiac, affecting an estimated 18 million Americans. It’s similar to celiac in that it also involves an immune reaction to gluten. But unlike celiac disease, that reaction doesn’t cause the body to produce damaging antibodies. So while a child with NCGS may have many celiac-like symptoms, he or she won’t experience the same intestinal damage, nutrient deficiencies or long term complications.
Now, if you want to try eating gluten-free, where do you begin? Ask your doctor or nutritionist, first of all, and then find a good book, like Hasselbeck's, to help you learn more.
When you want to dine out, sometimes it's difficult to find a restaurant menu that includes gluten-free items.
Some restaurants are beginning to offer gluten-free items or even special gluten-free menus to serve those customers who are living the GF lifestyle. These restaurants have to take measures to keep their gluten-free offerings in a separate area of the kitchen that does not ever come in contact with wheat products, and have to learn exactly what it is their customers need and want in a gluten-free menu.
The owner of The Potpourri House in Tyler, Les Ellsworth, says, "We are aware that many of our customers are turning to gluten-free foods, either as a personal choice or because of medical necessity. We've heard them say it makes dining out much more difficult, even if only one member of a family is affected. We have spent several months painstakingly researching issues related to cross-contamination, celiac disease and gluten allergies. We've asked our customers questions and listened to their frustrations and limitations...we have implemented best practices in our kitchen to ensure that our customers receive gluten-free food they can trust."
Chipotle Restaurants also offer a gluten-free menu, saying "No matter what your unique dietary needs are, Chipotle has options for you. Unless you have an allergy to delicious food, in which case, we might have an issue."
They also say on their website, "most of our foods are safe to eat, except the large and small flour tortillas. However, you should know that it's possible our corn may have a small amount of gluten from potentially co-mingling with gluten-containing grains in the field.If you are highly sensitive and would like us to change our gloves, we would be happy to do that at your request. Additionally, because our folks work with wheat tortillas all day long, there may be the possibility of cross-contact in our restaurants. We encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices."
These disclaimers illustrate just how tricky it can be to be completely gluten-free. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before changing your diet, and ask questions of your server or chef when you head out to dinner in a restaurant, just to make sure you feel comfortable with the kitchen's precautionary measures when preparing your food.
Most of all, celebrate the fact that restaurants are now trying to meet your gluten-free needs, so dining out can be fun and safe for everyone in East Texas.
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