The celiac disease diet is synonymous to the gluten free diet.
That means eating foods that do not contain the four main glutinous grains.
Of course, this is easier said than done given the ubiquitous nature of gluten grains, specifically wheat.
When I first began this lifestyle, I wondered, is there any packaged food that does not contain wheat? Become an ardent ingredient reader when it comes to packaged foods, and you'll see what I mean.
How then is one supposed to adhere to the celiac disease diet?
Although it might seem overwhelming at first, soon enough eating a gluten free diet will become second nature, and you will easily be able to pick out the culprit whenever "bad" gluten sneaks into your food.
To make this transition might require a radical change for you, but it will be well worth it. I don't take it for granted that it might be very challenging for some people, especially if you've eaten unconsciously for most of your life.
However, but fortunately, you will want to become a conscious eater - isn't it amazing how so many people eat unconsciously, putting just anything they buy into their gut, trusting that just because it passed the FDA muster it must obviously be good for them? Sad but true.
The simplest (and not necessarily easiest) way I have found to lurch into my healthy eating gluten free diet, is to focus on a whole foods plant based diet.
That is, a gluten free vegetarian diet. That means also cooking most of my food at home to avoid processed foods.
Don't get me wrong- this doesn't mean I never buy packaged or canned foods. I'm a busy woman with all the typical responsibilities - mom, lover, bread earner- albeit gluten free bread ;), friend, plus taking care of myself such as doing yoga and exercise.
Not to mention lounging around and doing absolutely nothing.
These are all things I love. So as much as I'd like to always make everything at home from scratch, I have to be practical.
What I find really pragmatic is taking great care in picking any pre-packaged foods I may choose to use while keeping this practice to a minimum.
How on earth can one eat a wheat free diet, if wheat is in almost everything, you ask.
I have discussed here about how wheat (the number one gluten culprit) became the enemy of the gut that is has become for so many people.
Because of the growing awareness of gluten intolerance however, managing life as you wade through life with celiac disease diet has become a lot easier.
There are now restaurants that make it a point to make sure their menu also caters to their gluten free customers, and many health food stores are overflowing with products that are friendly to our tummies.
For you technical folks, point of interest: The International body "Codex Alimentarius Commission" is tasked with creating guidelines for food standards in the world. This body, created by the World Health Organization recommends that the standard for gluten free labels is 20 parts per million (ppm).
In other words, the food item can be labeled gluten free it it contains less than 0.0007 of an ounce of gluten for every 1 lb of food. This is the minimum amount of gluten that can be detected in a reliable way.
However, as of posting of this article, the FDA has not specifically set standards for gluten free labeling. So please (and I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record if you've read my other articles!) be sure to scan all the ingredients with your own eyeballs.
I remember my first few months after going gluten free, I was under the false impression that Spelt was gluten free. At first I stopped eating bread completely, and was feeling great.
But I love bread too much, so I replaced all my wheat bread with Spelt bread. And then I wondered why all of sudden I was experiencing mood swings, stomach distress etc. especially in the evenings.
And then I went to my favorite gluten free bakery and saw a huge sign "We no longer serve spelt bread". That led me to research Spelt. Oh! Never mind. It may be a distant ancestor to wheat, but it still could exacerbate your symptoms.
So, as a quick primer, a scan of the ingredients that yields any of the following should be avoided. Know that wheat is NOT always called by its commonly known name in ingredient listings - but comes under various alter egos. Some of these are said to "just" be related to wheat, but make no mistake about it, they share a family name :)
Malt - find out what exactly has been malted, because malt in itself is just the product from malting different things such as wheat, barley etc.
Sprouted wheat -- *note: for me personally, I can eat sprouted wheat bread such as Ezekiel's with no symptoms, but many celiacs cannot!
Some of my readers have asked me about wheat grass (and of course there's also barley grass). You will find that some supplements contain wheat grass, and may be labeled gluten free.
The gluten that celiacs react to is actually in the grains, so wheat grass (without the grain part) is gluten free. Of course, the only reason people make wheat grass is to use the non-grain part, the sprouted part, to use it in juicing and all.
In fact, wheat grass is pretty much touted as a superfood with anti-oxidant qualities that help fight inflammation as well as cancer cells.
Quick tip: Always (x2) remember that wheat-free does not equal gluten free. In our modern diet, wheat is the main gluten culprit, but not the only.