Hot Topic Blog - Feeding, Eating, & Drinking
GLUTEN SENSITIVITIES AND GLUTEN-FREE FOODSArlene C. Colon, MA, CCC-SLP of Mission Viejo, California
So many people are avoiding foods with gluten these days due to celiac disease or food sensitivities, for behavior management or for other personal reasons. I have been on and off of a gluten-free diet for 11 years now. I had severe environmental allergies (e.g., dust mites, grass, etc.). So, about 11 years ago, my doctor ran some tests and found that I was allergic to many foods including: wheat, rye, oats, rice, corn, milk, cheese, yeast, walnuts, peanuts, peaches, strawberries, apples, pears, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, pineapple, cranberries, plums, eggplant, onions, and garlic! Sadly, my children inherited my allergies as well. However, we are so thankful that our family allergies are not life threatening. We can even eat some of the foods listed above, but not without consequences (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, nasal congestion, rashes, nervousness, etc.).
Unfortunately, many kids and adults don't have this luxury, and it is absolutely crucial that they avoid gluten and/or other offending foods. They may even need to call a supplier to make sure the items listed on packaging are accurate, up to date, and haven’t come in contact with offending foods (e.g., foods processed on equipment where nuts or other offending products are also processed).
I personally think everyone could benefit from lowering their intake of gluten or avoiding gluten all together, whether they have a food allergy or not. This idea, along with many questions about gluten allergies and sensitivities, was explored in interviews with Dr. Alessio Fasano by Elizabeth Veltman (Dec. 19 & 22, 2011; Jan 3, 2012). Dr. Fasano is the Medical Director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research where some of the most extensive research on gluten allergies and sensitivities has been done. See the reference list for links to these articles.
Over the years, I have found many great alternatives for wheat, such as quinoa, garbanzo beans, buckwheat, flaxseed, coconut, tapioca, arrowroot, rice, almonds, and so much more. Desserts are one of the easiest gluten-free foods to make. My family's favorite gluten-free flour is Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour. You can use it as a replacement for regular flour in any of your recipes, and no one will even notice the difference! You will also need to add a little Xanthan Gum according to Bob's Red Mill package instructions. One of our favorite recipes is Crazy Cake. It's gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free and so easy to make! Simple, just replace the flour with your favorite gluten-free flour. Depending on where you live, it may be hard to find great gluten-free products at the store, but here are some of our family favorites from Trader Joe's:
Udi's bread and buns
Joe's Gluten-Free Cookies
Barbara's Multigrain Puffins
Bob's Red Mill Flaxseed Meal
Envirokids Organic Gorilla Munch
Envirokids Peanut Butter Panda Puffs
Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
Organic Brown Rice (Fully Cooked)
Organic Brown Rice Pasta (All)
Uncured All Beef Hot Dog
Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil
Looking for a resource on allergies and sensitivities in babies and young children? Diane Bahr’s book (2010) Nobody Ever Told Me (or My Mother) That! Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development contains lists of the most common and least common allergenic and sensitizing foods. It also has checklists reflecting infant and toddler sensitivity/allergy symptoms.
Thank you for your interest in learning about gluten-free foods. I hope that you and your family are healthier (and happier) as a result.
Bahr, D. (2010). Nobody ever told me (or my mother) that! Everything from bottles and breathing to healthy speech development. Arlington, TX: Sensory World.
Veltman, E. (2011, Dec. 19). Interview with Dr. Alessio Fasano, Part 1: Should anyone eat gluten? The Tender Foodie.
Veltman, E. (2011, Dec. 22). Interview with Dr. Alessio Fasano, Part 2: How to get tested for celiac disease. The Tender Foodie.
Veltman, E. (2012, Jan. 3). Interview with Dr. Alessio Fasano, Part 3: Gluten sensitivity (a new "food allergy"). The Tender Foodie.
Reprinted with permission from Arlene C. Colón, MA, CCC-SLP. Originally published 7/26/2013 on the Bloom Speech Therapy website.