Dining In or Dining Out With Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is not a jail sentence for the stomach, nor does a gluten-free diet have to be distasteful or low in nutrition. It just takes a little effort to be gluten wise and to learn to eat healthier food, whether you dine out or dine in at home.
Celiac disease affects a little less than one percent of the global population. It is a disease in which one’s intestines suffer due to the unwarranted reaction of the immune system to the group of proteins collectively known as gluten (like gliadin, secalin, and hordein) (1). Gluten is not a single compound, as many believe, but rather a name given to a group of proteins that are found in many commonly consumed grains like wheat, rye, and barley.
For celiac patients, having a gluten-free diet should not always be about eating bland, tasteless foods or those low in nutrition. It is about making an effort to find gluten-free foods. Because celiac is an intolerance towards gluten, even a small amount of it can cause harm to certain parts of the body. It can also result in malabsorption of essential nutrients and many other problems, such as chronic diarrhea. If this disease is not diagnosed in a timely manner, it can cause weight loss and other health issues, like malnutrition. Certain individuals may also have deficiencies in minerals such as zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium. There can also be deficits of folate, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and niacin. It is thus important for celiac patients to adopt a gluten-free diet.
When you eat at home, maintaining a proper diet is not that difficult if you are gluten intolerant because you have more control there. At home, a commonly used grain is wheat, so one has to avoid food items such as bread, pasta, biscuits, pizza, and anything that has been made with wheat flour. Most other grains and food products, however, do not contain gluten in them. A celiac patient should avoid consuming any items made of wheat, barley, malt, rye, or kamut. Instead, they can buy food items such as corn, rice, millet, fonio, sorghum, buckwheat, teff, or amaranth. They can also have fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, potatoes, milk and dairy products, chicken, meat, fish, and eggs. However, caution should be maintained when one tries to purchase food from outside sources or processed foods. In such cases, be sure to read the food label properly before buying the product.
When dining out, there are certain challenges for individuals who are intolerant towards gluten. However, there are various restaurants that now offer gluten-free food items, but many people are not aware of them. It is a good idea to make a list of all the places that serve gluten-free meals. If you have a planned visit to a specific restaurant, make sure to call them in advance and ask about their menu. You should be sure that they do not add anything that contains gluten to your meal order, such as in sauces or other toppings. Since most restaurant offerings tend to have small amounts of gluten added to them, you can ask them to make modifications in their recipes so that it becomes gluten-free. Also, check for words such as “crisp” or “sauce” in the food descriptions, as these may indicate the presence of gluten. If you happen to be drinking alcohol, make sure the drinks are gluten-free as well.
But, in the end, if there is no way to check for gluten in your meal, avoid the restaurant and prepare a meal at home instead, since that is the best and safest option. When you cook your own food, you see everything that goes into each meal and can prevent any gluten additions.