Going Gluten Free – 3 things to consider

Gluten* free diets and gluten free foods are becoming increasingly popular.  The upside is that manufacturers are responding with more gluten free options, however, before going gluten free you might want to consider these 3 things:

1.  For people with celiac disease, eating gluten containing foods can be a painful experience that has long term health effects.  Non-celiac disease gluten intolerance can also cause discomfort but it’s more difficult to diagnose.  It is important to check with your doctor before going on a gluten free diet because diagnosis of celiac disease is difficult to impossible once you’ve eliminated gluten from your diet.

2.  ‘Gluten Free’ claims are regulated in Canada – the regulations apply to all products sold in Canada regardless of where they are manufactured.  The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) has a list of the conditions that must be met in order to achieve the ‘gluten free’ designation in Canada.  Click on the CCA link if you’re interested in what ‘gluten free’ means in Canada.

3.  Eliminating gluten from your diet is getting easier all the time.  According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, “Between 2007 and 2013, there were 2,344 food products and 197 beverage products with a gluten-free claim introduced to the Canadian marketplace. In the U.S. market, there were 10,482 new food products and 1,645 new beverage products with gluten-free claims. Products with gluten-free claims also gained market share, growing from 4.5% to 15.4% of total new product launches in Canada, and from 3.4% to 24.3% of new product launches in the U.S”  Snacks were the biggest category of new products, followed by bakery products and sauces and seasonings.  Some gluten free products are higher in fat and sugar and lower in protein, fibre, B vitamins and other important nutrients than corresponding gluten containing products.  The Nutrition Facts table on the product label will help you to determine whether the gluten-free product you are choosing is nutritious.

* Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, triticale and wheat (including spelt and kamut).