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Kelleybean

Shopping Questions From A Newbie

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Hi -

We are in the process of transitioning my soon to be 3 y.o. son to a gluten-free diet not b/c of celiac but b/c of his autism. We have limited gluten for a while but now we are fading out the gluten completely. I went shopping over the weekend but I have to confess that I was completely overwhelmed. Is there an easy way to tell by reading the ingredients list whether a product is "safe"? Is it enough just not to have wheat listed in the "contains" part of the ingredient list, or does the product have to actually be labeled gluten free? I was looking at products that seem like they should be gluten free like rice cakes and corn chips for example. It looked like it didn't contain gluten based on what was listed on the ingredients list, but I just wasn't sure. I'm lucky in that if he were to accidentally get some gluten it won't make him sick but I want him to be as gluten free as possible so that I can get an accurate picture of whether the diet is helping his autism.

Is there a way to know if a product is safe short of contacting the manufacturer each time?

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Following my comments, I'll provide a link to a URL that lists the gluten-free processed foods that can be found at a regular supermarkets--all kinds of products (the list is over 100 pages long).

However, before providing the link, I'd like to discuss an alternative to buying processed foods. In the beginning when people try a gluten-free diet, it's usually easier and safer to buy only natural foods; e.g., vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts, rice, potatoes, and dairy. Many of us rarely buy processed foods anymore because they no longer interest us. After following a natural diet over a number of years, the thought of eating anything processed is distasteful--you can really tell the difference! Since you're changing your child's diet to a gluten-free one for medical reasons, is there a reason why you wish to buy processed foods? There are so many chemicals and bad ingredients, besides gluten, it might be worthwhile to provide only natural foods for the first six months or so to see if there is an improvement in your child's condition. Of course, if you don't wish to bake your own bread (which can be tricky), there are some excellent gluten-free brands out there--personally, I favor Udi's sandwich breads. Also, you can find some good gluten-free pastas (Tinkiyada and EnerG are my favorites). Baking gluten-free cookies and cakes can be a little tricky at first, but if you use a good gluten-free all-purpose flour like Bob's Red Mill and add a few teaspoons of xanthan gum to your recipes, the baked goods usually come out fine. There's no need to run out and buy special books on preparing gluten-free recipes--simply use substitutes in your own favorite family recipes.

Okay, now I've had my say...so here's the link:

http://homepage.mac.com/sholland/celiac/GFfoodlist.pdf

Good luck to you! And please feel free to ask for more help here at the Forum--these people know everything!

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Keeping in mind that list is more than 5 years old. Many things could have changed!!


"But then, in all honesty, if scientists don't play god, who will?"

- James Watson

My sources are unreliable, but their information is fascinating.

- Ashleigh Brilliant

Leap, and the net will appear.

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Many mainstream foods are suitable for the vast majority of us. After a while, you will be able to read labels and know quickly.

Try these links for useful information:

Unsafe ingredients.

Safe ingredients.

Here's a list of companies that have a clear gluten policy. If you don't see "wheat, rye, barley, barley malt, oats" on the labels, its not there, or hidden in "flavors, starches, etc." These companies make shopping easy. Just read the ingredients and if there is gluten it will be clearly disclosed.


Peter

Diagnosis by biopsy of practically non-existent villi; gluten-free since July 2000. I was retested five years later and the biopsy was normal. You can beat this disease!

Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes diagnosed in March 1986

Markham, Ontario (borders on Toronto)

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator since 2007

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Following my comments, I'll provide a link to a URL that lists the gluten-free processed foods that can be found at a regular supermarkets--all kinds of products (the list is over 100 pages long).

However, before providing the link, I'd like to discuss an alternative to buying processed foods. In the beginning when people try a gluten-free diet, it's usually easier and safer to buy only natural foods; e.g., vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts, rice, potatoes, and dairy. Many of us rarely buy processed foods anymore because they no longer interest us. After following a natural diet over a number of years, the thought of eating anything processed is distasteful--you can really tell the difference! Since you're changing your child's diet to a gluten-free one for medical reasons, is there a reason why you wish to buy processed foods? There are so many chemicals and bad ingredients, besides gluten, it might be worthwhile to provide only natural foods for the first six months or so to see if there is an improvement in your child's condition. Of course, if you don't wish to bake your own bread (which can be tricky), there are some excellent gluten-free brands out there--personally, I favor Udi's sandwich breads. Also, you can find some good gluten-free pastas (Tinkiyada and EnerG are my favorites). Baking gluten-free cookies and cakes can be a little tricky at first, but if you use a good gluten-free all-purpose flour like Bob's Red Mill and add a few teaspoons of xanthan gum to your recipes, the baked goods usually come out fine. There's no need to run out and buy special books on preparing gluten-free recipes--simply use substitutes in your own favorite family recipes.

Okay, now I've had my say...so here's the link:

http://homepage.mac.com/sholland/celiac/GFfoodlist.pdf

Good luck to you! And please feel free to ask for more help here at the Forum--these people know everything!

To be honest, it is not my preference to use processed foods. My problem is that my son, very probably b/c of his autism, is very sensitive to food texture. He refuses meat (except the occasional hotdog) and veggies unless they are pureed. He also has a language delay so it's still tough to "reason" (as much as you can reason with a 2 year old anyway) with him about food. If I were going gluten-free then I would opt for say chicken or whatever with a veggie side. His eating habits have actually improved tremendously but I'm still going to have to get creative and sneak nutrition into him however I can get it. Thanks for the list!

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Oh, that's right, the texture and everything being the same from the last time is magnified with these little ones !

In general, the easiest way to tell is to see if the item says "gluten free" right on the package. Once your eye is trained, you'll see it more and more. The second way is to go to a health food store and hit the gluten free aisle, where it is easier to find things- but beware, I've seen non gluten free foods packed in right next to them in some grocery displays of things like Bob's Red Mill packaged flours. The help and the management are either Not Thinking or Don't Care. (at one large famous national "health" chain closest to me, I don't go there very often precisely because they scatter shotted the gluten free stuff all over the store, as if we all wanted to play Treasure Hunt. :angry: My local grocery actually has the stuff better organized and cheaper. )

The third way is you use the google and search the words gluten free xxxxxxx xxxxxxx where xxxxxx is the name of the item you're interested in. For instance, Lundberg Rice Cakes are gluten free. Tinkyada Rice Pasta is gluten free. Both of these are marked on the package. For corn chips, you can search gluten free mission corn chips, for example, and get the website which says they have some that are. http://www.missionmenus.com/faqs.aspx Fritos also claims some of their chips are gluten free http://www.fritolay.com/our-snacks/fritos.html

You can also check this website for product reviews and reactions, including the sad thing that happens when a formerly good company crosses over to the dark side of cross contamination due to mergers, etc. :( "New and Improved" are not automatic Happy Words around here.

Sometimes soy and dairy also cause problems.

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Thanks, Peter! I'll have to mark these sites on my i-phone or something so that I can consult it while I'm in the store. I'm sure I'll get the hang of this and it'll get easier once I've made a few trips.

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Some of us celiac avoid products processed on the same equipment as a non gluten-free food. I don't know if that is an issue for you or not. I am not usually sensitive to that, so I really don't pay much attention to it. If the ingredients look gluten-free, I try it. For example: basic corn chips usually have limited ingrediants and none contain gluten. Usually corn and oil, maybe salt, but not much else. Others with celiac, can't take that risk as they will react to a very small amount of gluten. I don't find most products that don't have gluten as an ingredient still are not labeled as gluten free. I don't know if there is a cut off of what is considered "safe" for success with autism. Generally, the recommendations is 20ppm for celiac, but that is not necessarily where peoples tolerances are. Is that helpful at all??? Good luck. It will become easier, I promise. (If nothing else, you will get used to your "regular" foods, like you have now, and these will be the ones you fall back to.)

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