A new celiac diagnosis means much more than eliminating bread and pasta made with gluten from your diet. It also means learning to read EVERY label of anything you buy each time you go to the grocery store. A trip to the grocery store takes significantly longer as you juggle the ALLOWED and FORBIDDEN ingredient lists and voraciously read the labels looking for “safe” food. It means learning the difference between maltodextrin (safe in the US unless specified as wheat), modified food starch (potentially from wheat or corn), and natural or artificial flavors. As a diabetic I was already trained to examine the Nutrition Facts outlining fat, protein and carbohydrate content but I had never paid attention to all of the extra stuff in our food.

It takes a while to learn the language of the food labels. Start with lists of mainstream gluten free products available from local celiac groups, the Delphi forums or the grocery store (Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have them, though they aren't exhaustive). Double check the ingredients; sometimes the lists are out of date. As you slowly start to understand the difference between malt and distilled vinegar, maltodextrin and modified food starch you will become less and less reliant on the lists and the trip to the store will go more quickly. Unless you are like me and just love grocery shopping – then you just end up with more in your cart.

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