Millions of Americans (about 1% of the U.S. population) suffer from an inherited auto-immune disorder called Celiac Disease where the lining of the small intestine is damaged from ingesting gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.
The symptoms of gluten intolerance are long and well documented. And the only successful treatment is deceivingly simple. The solution is to just stop eating gluten for the rest of your life! However, many of the victims of this insidious condition are finding that solution to be anything but simple.
Scrupulously reading labels is the first recommendation for beginners who have just discovered help is at hand by living on a gluten-free diet. The idea is that without gluten, your intestinal wall will heal and your symptoms of the gluten allergy will eventually disappear.
However, avoiding all things gluten seems like an insurmountable task since finding the right foods without gluten that still carry enough protein to foster good health can be a big challenge indeed. The secret is to look closely, haunt the health food stores, and read everything you can get your hands on. Only then will you begin to see another side to life. Like Alice in Wonderland, celiac patients are beginning to enter and enjoy a healthier, happier, gluten-free world.
A Wonderland is emerging where more and more manufacturers and individuals committed to healthy living are producing delicious, nourishing gluten-free products. It is said that 7th century Buddhist monks in China discovered a way to make gluten free flour by searching for a protein source to use in their vegetarian diets.
Now modern bakeries provide an amazing array of goods made from gluten free flour resulting in gluten free breads, cookies, scones, rolls and muffins. There are numerous restaurants committed to offering, not only baked goods like bread and other gluten free foods, but delectable gluten free desserts such as fudge cake, guaranteed to satisfy the most discriminating palate.
Conscientious manufacturers are even offering chips and snacks in varieties of flavors – gluten-free and trans- fat free – that are so delicious, even the so-called normal among us are indulging, and are not even aware they are consuming healthy snacks. The Gluten Challenge is to find these establishments and producers of fine foods.
The internet offers a seemingly endless list of options. Try plugging in Gluten Free Restaurants and you’ll get pages and pages of travel guides to national chain restaurants with gluten free menus and smaller, specialty restaurants featuring everything you ever wanted in a gluten free entrée or dessert. Googling Gluten Free Foods yields everything from lists of what you can safely eat to a myriad of options for recipes you can use to make your favorite meals at home.
The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America is another source of information. Their mission “…is to provide support to persons with gluten intolerances, including celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and other gluten sensitivities in order to live healthy lives.”
Millions of Americans who suffer from celiac disease have ultimately found a solution to changing their lives forever by avoiding foods that contain gluten. Their journey is a process of continual discovery and as they inquire and learn, they have actually started an emerging dietary revolution. They, along with the rest of us (wittingly or unwittingly) are enjoying a whole new gluten free world.