I have been eating primarily gluten-free (GF) foods for about eight years. I am Italian and used to live on good pasta and great bread, so a GF lifestyle has been a sensual challenge and, an often disappointing quest.
Fortunately, I also work in the grocery industry and select new products for a large natural foods supermarket. Needless to say, I get lots of opportunities to try new things. Over the last ten years, the GF products category of groceries has exploded. Unless someone discovers a miracle cure, the demand for GF products will continue.
With so many choices, and so much variety in quality, how is one to choose satisfying products without bearing the expense of trying (and tossing) many different, often high priced, new foods? Triumph Dining has published GF eating guides to help gourmands maneuver the GF scene.
The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide is an excellent resource for the person newly diagnosed with Celiac and overwhelmed by the many dietary changes necessary. This book offers a comprehensive selection of many gluten-free natural foods and conventional groceries for consumers’ choice. The guide covers everything from eggs and dairy to baby food.
The information is self-reported by the companies but the publisher has done what it can to make the list as complete as possible. There are even symbols to indicate the possibility of cross-contamination. For accuracy the authors also reviewed labels of products that could be included in the guide but they did not receive information from the company directly. It is clear there was a lot of effort put into making these books.
While this is a good resource to know what you are looking for or what to ask your grocer to stock for you, be aware that the food industry changes very quickly. Sometimes the newer products taste more like the original products they are trying to imitate. Ingredients lists can change quickly as well. It is the consumer’s job to stay on top of the changes and keep your grocer informed of brands and products you would like to see on the shelves.
The Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide is helpful if you live in, or are planning on visiting a big city like New York or Boston. Not only is it an extensive collection of 6,500 eateries in 50 states, but it also offers tips to ensuring a positive eating experience. There detailed sections on what to say in order to convey your order so the kitchen understands what you need.
Although, many eateries are aware of the need to have GF selections on their menus, because of frequent changes in the food industry is it important to check with your server to be sure they are still offering gluten-free menu items.
I am encouraged that GF eating is becoming more understood in the mainstream. That means more options for the ever increasing number of people who need to remove gluten from their diet. As a matter of fact, I recently heard that Subway was offering GF submarine sandwich rolls.
Most importantly, be informed and advocate for yourself when you are eating out. You are the first line of defense when choosing your foods. Know what you can eat and make sure you talk to the right people about your food. The articles in both of these guides will help you in your quest to ensure a gluten-free lifestyle.
Note: Individuals with severe gluten sensitivity should avoid restaurants entirely. Unless the entire restaurant kitchen is GF, cross contamination is almost always present on some level.
Sarah Gianni is a contributing writer to Seeds of Life. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and loves to discover new and interesting foods to try. Look for more reviews from Sarah in the future.
BUY IT You can get your own copies of these guides at Triumph Dining.
Disclosure: Seeds of life was provided a set of Triumph Dining Guides to review for an honest opinion. No other compensation was provided.