Top 10 Tips for a Happy Gluten-Free 2009
In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease, and since then it has become an invaluable resource to people worldwide who seek information about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.
In 1998 I created The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore! which was also another Internet first—it was the first gluten-free food site to offer a shopping cart-style interface, and the ability for people to order gluten-free products manufactured by many different companies at a single Web site.
I am also co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.
- Toss Out any Unsafe Foods
The beginning of the year is a great time to go through your cupboards to make sure that any gluten-containing food that might have snuck into the house over the holidays is banished forever. Still have that fruitcake from your well-meaning aunt who forgot about your gluten-free diet? Toss it…or, maybe better, re-gift it to one of your gluten-eating friends (or enemies depending on the quality of the fruitcake!).
- Restock your Kitchen
Plan to include a gluten-free shopping list in that first grocery purchase to help you replace any depleted favorite gluten-free ingredients. The start of the year is a great time to re-stock your kitchen with your favorite gluten-free foods and ingredients.
- Take Advantage of Sales/Specials to Stock up on Gluten-free Favorites
Numerous online companies are eager to make way for 2009, and offer great deals on your gluten-free favorites. Whether it’s breads, pizzas, pizza crusts and mixes by companies like Chebe, Dad’s, Schar, Foods By George, or ‘Cause Your Special, now is a perfect time to stock up and save big.
- Source Products from Reliable Makers and Vendors
The ‘gluten-free’ label is becoming a hot commodity, with the market for gluten-free products growing at double-digit rates, and consumer demand higher than ever. However, until the U.S. government implements official standards, there is no official definition as to what constitutes a gluten-free product, so it’s buyer beware! So it’s best to buy your gluten-free products from trusted companies and sources. Look for companies that have a long history and are vigilant about protecting their customers. One of our favorites is the The Gluten-Free Mall, which has provided on-line shopping for such products since 1998.
- Stay Informed
Follow the latest Gluten-Free developments. From clinical trials of a vaccine for celiac disease, to the pending U.S. adoption of the Codex Alimentarius standards for gluten-free labeling, to major developments in diagnosis, treatment, associated conditions, etc., there’s plenty happening in the gluten-free world, so be sure to follow any news that might have a positive affect on your health and gluten-free lifestyle. You can follow your favorite authors and news on Celiac.com by setting up our Celiac.com RSS feed in your Google or Yahoo! account. Or even better still, subscribe to a celiac disease or gluten-free newsletter such as Celiac.com’s paper newsletter, and help support us at the same time.
- Double-Check Safe and Unsafe Gluten-Free Food Lists
You can find free updated lists at Celiac.com. Another good option is to purchase a commercial gluten-free shopping guide, which can help you find items at a regular grocery store that are safe.
- Take Part in Food Planning for 2009 Events
From post-New Year’s parties to the Super Bowl and beyond, now is a good time to look at the year ahead with an eye toward any events you’ll likely be attending and to make a mental note to chime in ahead of time with hosts to arrange for any gluten-free adjustments. This includes arranging to bring gluten-free versions of any favorite or ‘must-have’ dishes.
- Think Ahead: Plan and Try Gluten-free Dishes in Advance
Think back to the few disappointments you may have suffered at one of last year’s parties or picnics. Maybe it was the company get-together, maybe it was your cousin’s Superbowl party or Memorial Day BBQ, where there just wasn’t enough gluten-free snacks to nourish you properly. Don’t get caught short again. Now is a perfect time to look ahead and mark your calendar for the events you know will be coming. Then mark your calendar again for a date far enough in advance of those events for you to prepare and try out the gluten-free offerings that will help to make those events a gluten-free success!
- Try new Gluten-free Products!
With the market for gluten-free foods projected to grow at double-digits through foreseeable future, the number of gluten-free products hitting the market is also swelling. Since 2004, food retailers have added nearly 2,500 new gluten-free products to their shelves. In 2008 alone, retailers added nearly 750 new gluten-free products. Trying new gluten-free products is a great way to discover new products, and new manufacturers, and to enjoy eating gluten-free.
- Spread the Word
Generally speaking, a gluten-free diet is a healthy diet. On the whole, people who eat gluten-free automatically avoid a huge number of foods containing enriched wheat flour that pervades our food chain, and is often found in combination with other questionable ingredients like hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, etc. Eating gluten-free generally means paying closer attention to ingredients, eating foods made with a variety of whole grains, like quinoa, rice, corn, and millet, along with more fruits, and vegetables. A gluten-free diet is an invitation to a healthier lifestyle. Spread the word!
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