For some people, adopting a gluten-free lifestyle is a choice. , sometimes it is necessary to eradicate the source of oats.
When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in August 2022, I realized I needed to make some big changes. I had to quickly adapt to a gluten-free lifestyle that directly or indirectly required more water use and could create packaging waste.
This created an ethical dilemma. How can you help yourself stay healthy while avoiding unnecessary waste? Hopefully, this guide will help reassure you and your celiac loved ones. increase.
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack gluten (a protein found in foods such as bread, pasta, beer, and soy sauce) in the small intestine like an invader. The resulting inflammation leads to various gastrointestinal and other symptoms.
Many people with celiac disease respond to foods containing gluten or trace amounts of gluten, but some are asymptomatic. more serious than the patient.
How does celiac disease change your diet?
There is currently no cure for celiac disease. The only way to manage it is to eat a gluten-free diet whenever possible and avoid non-foods that contain gluten, such as certain medications, toothpaste, and lip balm. also need attention.
Not everything you buy needs a gluten-free label, but it’s important to check the label for gluten ingredients and trace amounts listed each time. If you have any questions, please contact the manufacturer.
Achieving a 100% gluten-free diet is very difficult. Many naturally gluten-free ingredients, such as oats and corn, contain trace amounts of gluten due to cross-contamination during harvesting and processing.
To bear the “gluten-free” label, manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products contain “less than 20 ppm (parts per million)” of gluten, but regulators challenge manufacturers’ claims. may be recited. Gluten-free certified products such as GFCO, BRCS, and NSF are the safest options for processed foods. Many of these foods require packaging to avoid contamination.
Accidentally ingesting gluten is called gluten. Symptoms can last for days or weeks, and the only solution is to get back on the gluten-free bandwagon.
Is it safe to eat out with celiac disease?
Because of the risk of cross-contamination, a diagnosis of celiac disease makes home cooking an easier way to manage the environment and ingredients.
With some preparation, eating out with celiac is perfectly possible. I’ve been through it all as I’ve adjusted to my diagnosis. and is often used by people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, and families to find and rate restaurants that are celiac friendly (and sometimes not).
It is important that you can be confident that your staff will be able to meet your needs. When not dining in a 100% gluten-free establishment, you may need to ask staff to clean the food preparation area and change gloves when preparing your meal. Unfortunately, these critical accommodations can create more waste and water use at the individual level.
In responsible cafes, gluten-free pastries are typically individually packaged in plastic or stored in separate display cases to reduce cross-contamination. , may be safe for people with gluten sensitivities, but it is not safe for celiac disease.
There are many travel and food blogs written by people with celiac disease. Legal Nomads is my favourite.
Can you stay healthy while eating gluten-free?
Thriving with celiac disease means being adaptable. Learning how to manage your condition can help you orient your lifestyle toward sustainability, although it can be difficult.
Living a sustainable life as a celiac requires weighing the social component of choices such as going to a restaurant or hosting a gluten-free dinner party. or try your luck at a café) or be leaner (preparing snacks from scratch, eating at home).
Plan ahead to stay clean and green
You may need to clean your kitchen more often to avoid gluten contamination, especially if you have gluten eaters in your home. , or upcycle a T-shirt into a rag. Alternatively, invest in reusable cloths that you wash regularly (wash your hands often!). If you have a dishwasher, use it instead of washing dishes by hand. Get into the habit of carrying reusable containers to take home your own meals or take leftovers home without packaging waste.
Always bring snacks
Snacks are important for hungry celiacs, but they can also involve more packaging waste. Wrappers are hard to recycle, but I’m never without three energy bars at any given time. Instead of buying groceries, try adapting energy balls, gluten-free versions of hummus, or your own favorites.
Large retailers such as Costco and BJs have many gluten-free products. Reduce packaging waste by buying in bulk. Where possible, choose products that are made from recycled materials or minimize easily recyclable packaging such as cardboard or aluminum. Unfortunately, stores without packages should be avoided due to the risk of cross-contamination.
Preparing meals with natural foods
Giving up beloved foods can cause distress, but celiac disease ultimately requires a mindset shift in what we focus on. can eat. Consider it an opportunity to transition to a cleaner diet, focusing on fresh produce and healthy grains such as gluten-free oats, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and legumes like chickpeas and lentils. Don’t forget to check the trace label!
Explore These Allergy-Aware Brands
Before my diagnosis, I didn’t give much thought to food allergies. Right now, it’s important to my everyday wellness. There are several sustainability-conscious brands that make this aspect of my life easier, including Bob’s Red Mills, Schaer, and Oatly (currently gluten-free in the US only). .
Let the restaurant know your needs
Many restaurants are familiar with gluten sensitivities but not celiac disease. For example, restaurants use the same cooking oil for breaded onion rings and naturally gluten-free fries is common. flat If the menu says gluten free. You need staff help to make informed decisions. In my experience, 100% gluten-free restaurants typically offer vegetarian and vegan options, further reducing the carbon footprint of their meals.
Replenish Your Kitchen Consciously
A new diagnosis means eliminating household items that contain gluten, from semolina spaghetti to wooden spatulas. Donate used cookware and utensils to thrift stores and charities. Also, be sure to read our recycling guide before throwing away unwanted items to keep useful materials out of landfills.