Gluten-Free is Now Hassle-free

Healthy Living

Oh man, we miss cinnamon rolls.

Our family is no different than any other family – we consume ample amounts of bread and baked goods on a regular basis.

But seven years ago, all of this was turned on its head when, in her early adulthood, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with a severe wheat allergy – not exactly Celiac Disease, but a severe allergy nonetheless.

The diagnosis affected all of us. Traditional holiday baking, birthday treats and go-to restaurants were out the window. The learning curve was steep. She and I once actually sat in a restaurant and shared some tears over a menu lacking in gluten-free options.

That was then. This is now.

Coming to the rescue was the current trend of eating gluten-free as a method of losing weight and belly fat.

On the surface, GF diets seem silly to me, since there is no credible study proving that weight loss results. Add to that the expense of gluten-free foods (they’re not cheap), and dieting in this way defies logic. But in fact, nearly one-third of Americans reportedly eat gluten-free, while less than one percent actually has Celiac Disease.

Because of the high demand for GF foods, supply is now endless and GF eating is, for the most part, hassle-free. Every grocery store has a section devoted to gluten-free items. Baking ingredients are available in abundance. And dozens of restaurants in our area offer gluten-free options aplenty.

So thanks to the millions who are eating gluten-free, our family has benefitted.

Want my advice? It’s free!

How to identify the signs of a wheat allergy

Wheat allergies can occur later in life. Your doctor will be your expert on this, but among the symptoms you may experience are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue 
  • Bloating or gas
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Bumpy skin, dry skin, or rash
  • Damage to dental enamel
  • Joint pain
  • Heartburn

How to eat gluten-free

Take heart! There is still a lot of delicious food out there! Embrace these foods:

  • Corn products – Mexican food is our new favorite.
  • Potatoes – There are hundreds of ways to prepare them, and very few we haven’t tried.
  • Rice products – Our favorite is a rice cracker.
  • Eggs – Omelets and egg casseroles make a great B for D (breakfast for dinner).
  • Baking substitutes – Try all- purpose GF flour or baking mix and corn starch for thickening.
  • Other food substitutes – GF cream of chicken soup in casseroles, rice cereal instead of wheat cereal, ground GF oats instead of bread crumbs, and almonds instead of croutons.

How to find a GF-friendly restaurant

It’s easy! There are loads of websites, interactive blogs and chat rooms devoted to the topic. Check out these for starters:  (Click on “restaurants” and filter by “Gluten-Free”)

Our favorite Kansas City area restaurants

  • Mexican – Jose Pepper’s, On The Border
  • Chinese – Fortune Wok
  • Italian - Maggiano’s Little Italy, Brio Tuscan Grille
  • Bar Food – BRGR, Red Robin
  • Barbecue - Fiorella’s Jack Stack, Q39
  • Pizza – Waldo Pizza
  • Steak and Fine Dining - Cooper’s Hawk

How to Avoid the Pitfalls

You can save yourself from getting “glutenized,” (sick from food contaminated by gluten) by doing these things:

  • Tell your restaurant servers you have an actual wheat allergy – they will take more care in handling your food.
  • Make sure french fries are cooked in a “dedicated fryer,” i.e. that they are alone in the fryer and not shared with breaded items like mozzarella sticks or chicken fingers.
  • Steer clear of fast food chains that specialize in breaded food or baked goods. The chance of contamination by “flying flour” is greater.                    

Bon Appétit!

If a bunch of foodies like us can figure out a gluten-free life, you can too. We are as satisfied as we were before, but happier in knowing that all of us can equally enjoy our dining experience. Now that you’re in the know, you can be, too.