Seeing to Coeliac
In a puzzling world of intolerance, allergy and just plain food faddism, it is good to have some facts explained.
Which is why Coeliac New Zealand is urging people to get a proper diagnosis mal-absorbtion of nutrients and long-term illnesses like liver disease, osteoporosis and even certain types of cancer or diabetes.
The society reckons about 36,000 New Zealanders may not have been diagnosed properly for coeliac disease, but are “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. Registered dietitian Jill Thomson emphasises the importance of getting a proper diagnosis (a blood test administered by a GP) so that a strict diet can be developed.
Gluten is in not just wheat, but also rye and barley, so working with a registered dietitian to develop an eating plan with enough calcium is important. “A lot of people do get sucked into faddish books or diets,” says Jill, “but it is important to understand how coeliac is different from simply an intolerance or allergy.”
Though most people living gluten-free understand not eating gluten containing grains wheat, rye, barley or oats, Coeliac New Zealand point out there may be hidden gluten in baked beans, cereal, sausages, marinated meat, imitation seafoods, dry roasted nuts, some ice-creams and desserts, fish and chips or potato chips or ready-made soups, mayonnaises, sauces and gravy.
Coeliac New Zealand, the support and education organisation for people with coeliac disease, have just published two handy purse-sized booklets to help you with food shopping and cooking. Your Guide to Reading Food Labels explains how to identify gluten-free food, and hidden gluten in packaged product, what do do when eating out and more.
Their advice, as summarised on the website coeliac.org.nz, is:
- Try to choose food labelled gluten free or foods carrying the crossed grain logo (as licenced by Coeliac New Zealand)
- If you don’t see wheat rye, barley, oats or gluten on a food label then there are no ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains and the product is gluten free.
- Exceptions to Rule 2 There are some ingredients derived from wheat which are so highly processed that they contain ‘no detectable gluten’ due to processing. These include caramel from wheat, dextrose from wheat, glucose syrup from wheat and maltodextrin.
- If in doubt, leave it out
While it's easy to guess baked goods probably have gluten in them, you may not be aware that processed foods like baked beans may.
So the second booklet Ingredient List has a comprehensive explanation of products and labelling, and a brilliant alphabetical list of ingredients marked as safe or not (including the numerical food additives which are or are not gluten-free).
Naturally gluten free foods like fruit, vegetables, salad, rice, potato, corn, plain meat (not sausages), fish, eggs, cheese, milk, and most yoghurts, pulses (peas, beans and lentils) are great eating, of course.
Jill Thomson, a registered dietician with Coeliac New Zealand, does remind you to be sure that you use only gluten-free baking powder in the cakes and cupcakes.
Similiarly, be sure to use gluten free cornflour, icing sugar, mayonnaise and marshmallows which can be traps for some people. You could also experiment with some of our slices or biscuit-based pie crusts, substituting regular brands for gluten-free biscuits by Bakeworks, Freedom Foods and Kea.
Go to Coeliac New Zealand's website for comprehensive information on Coeliacs Disease as well as tips and expert advice for a gluten-free diet.