Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So you have Celiac Disease/Gluten-Sensitivity...Now what!?

For those of us who are diagonsed with the inability to eat wheat or gluten containing grains, life can take a dramatic shift down an uncertain culinary path.  "What in the world can I eat?" are the words that I often hear when talking to a newly diagnosed patient.  "A whole lot!", is my response.  I know - long gone are familiar comfort foods that many of us know and love.  Foods like macaroni and cheese, pizza, pasta, muffins, doughnuts... need I go on?  But in spite of this culinary tragedy, there is a silver lining around the gluten-free cloud.  In a word - Creativity.

Our world is so often confined to the small, narrow box in our mind.  We're religious about using the same products, familiar brand-names with virtually no variations.  Many times in the kitchen, it's even worse.  Don't believe me?  Try to make a monthly menu and see how many different meals you can come up with.  Yes, this one is truly sobering.  What's a celiac to do?

I thought it might be worth mentioning here some of these interesting fun facts about food and maybe it will inspire you to expand your culinary horizons:

  • Did you know that there are over 500 different kinds of bananas?
  • Eating 20 tart cherries daily could reduce inflammation and headache pain.
  • There are at least 10,000 varieties of tomatoes, all of which contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant known to help a variety of ailments.
  • There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples in the world.  Each is filled with lots of fiber and makes a great snack for diabetics.
  • Broccoli has more Vit. C than an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk.  They even contain a good amound of protein!
  • The natural sugar in an apple is more potent than the caffeine in coffee and is better at keeping you awake.
  • 1/2 cup sweet red peppers contain twice as much Vit. C as green peppers
First, step out of the box that we (or someone else) created and step into a world of flavor and color.  Be willing to expand your knowledge and your taste buds.  Here are some ideas on how and where to begin:
  • Enroll in a nutrition/culinary class that focuses on introducing new recipes and ingredients to your specialty diet.
  • Visit sites like http://www.allrecipes.com/ and http://www.foodnetwork.com/ and search gluten-free for delicious new recipe ideas.
  • Make a trip to your local book store and purchase one of the great gluten-free cookbooks available on the market.  Try one new recipe per week.
  • For the adventerous, buy a cookbook that focuses on foods you love.  Get creative and improvise to make it work.
  • Try one new fruit and vegetable per week. 
  • Join a celiac support group.
  • Follow gluten-free blogs like http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/ and others to gain valuable information on gf products and recipes.
Today is the first day of your new life - a full, healthy and satisfying life.