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Patti Podnar

Going gluten-free? Make sure your shopping list includes these delicious, affordable and readily available foods.

 

 

Did you ever have that dream about wandering the halls of your high school and having no idea where your classes were? When your child is diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, coming up with your first gluten-free shopping list can feel much the same way. With the stress of food suddenly feeling like a threat and the work of getting your chicken-nugget-loving child on board, it's enough to make you want to inhale a pint of gluten-free ice cream.

Fortunately, living a gluten-free lifestyle is much easier than it has been before. "Keep in mind that most whole foods are delicious and gluten-free," explains Lola O'Rourke, a registered dietitian and an education manager for The Gluten Intolerance Group. "There's also a huge variety of gluten-free foods on the market that weren't available even five years ago."

Victoria Lamberth, a marketing manager for Ardenne Farm, a company that makes and sells gluten-free baking mixes, agrees. Lamberth, who is herself gluten-intolerant, says, "The best trick is to focus on and really savor what you can eat, which has become a lot easier in the past few years with all the new certified gluten-free foods widely available."

Fundamentals of Gluten-Free Shopping
Lamberth emphasizes that your first step is to educate yourself and your nanny, or anyone else who will be feeding your child, on what foods have gluten. Most whole foods are fine, as are processed foods that are labeled as "certified gluten-free." Beyond that, it gets a little trickier, because manufacturers aren't legally required to list gluten as an ingredient. In addition, some products that are naturally gluten-free do contain gluten after processing, thanks to the additions of stabilizers, flavorings, or thickeners.

Cross-contamination -- in which gluten-free foods come in contact with equipment that was previously used for foods with gluten -- can also be a problem when purchasing processed foods. If you have the least bit of uncertainty, it's better to either avoid the product or call the manufacturer.

So what foods should be on your gluten-free shopping list? Here are some suggestions:

Whole Foods
Even if you stick to whole foods, your diet can be a lot more varied than you might think. After all, they're still gluten-free in combination! Think salads, meat-and-veggie skewers and casseroles.
 

  • Fresh fruits
  • Plain milk
  • Butter
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Any natural, unprocessed meat
  • Most cheeses (beware of cross-contamination in cheeses that have been repackaged at the in-store deli)
  • Nuts
  • Most 100 percent real-fruit juices (not juice drinks)
     

Processed Foods That Are Usually Gluten-Free
Just because a particular food is gluten-free at one time doesn't mean it will be indefinitely. Ingredients change, and manufacturers change their methods. Always, always read labels or call the manufacturer. With that said, these foods are likely to be gluten-free:
 

  • Most plain yogurt, especially Chobani, Fage or Stonyfield
  • Some margarines
  • Some milk substitutes
  • Most General Mills Chex cereals
  • Pocono Cream of Buckwheat
  • Lundberg Farms rice and risotto
  • Tostito's chips
  • Frigo cheese sticks
  • Most popcorn
  • Kozy Shack pudding
  • Many hams and hot dogs
  • Most fruit popsicles
  • Pasta made from corn, rice or quinoa
  • Heinz ketchup
  • French's yellow mustard
  • Plain salt and pepper
  • Most plain oils
  • Many sodas
  • Unflavored coffee and tea
  • Most wine
     

Certified Gluten-Free Versions of "Regular" Food
Don't worry -- your child can still get his fill of bread and baked goods. "Today, it is easier than ever to eat a gluten-free diet that is delicious, affordable and enjoyable. In the last five years, the gluten-free market has exploded in the United States," Lamberth says. "Eaten in moderation with proteins, vegetables and fruits, these new gluten-free products don't just keep those who are gluten-intolerant or suffer from celiac disease from feeling deprived -- they keep them satisfied with their dietary choices."

Try gluten-free versions of foods that would otherwise contain gluten to keep your little one's new diet familiar:
 

  • Cereal
  • Breads
  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Baking mixes
  • Bacon
  • Deli meats (choose prepackaged versions to avoid cross-contamination)
  • Snacks (cookies, crackers, chips)
  • Frozen meals
     

Making the change to gluten-free living is hard -- any big change is. But adopting a gluten-free diet can have a positive outcome if you're inspired to explore foods you've never tried before. O'Rourke says, "The key is to embrace it as an opportunity to explore new foods. A number of cuisines, like Mexican, Asian and some Indian foods, have a lot of gluten-free options. So your new diet can open all kinds of doors."
 

And try these 8 Easy Gluten-Free Recipes for Families.

Patti Podnar is a freelance writer committed to writing complex things simply and boring things engagingly. Currently, Patti is a regular contributor to Skyword, Prose Media, and Career Addict. She also develops employee training materials and process documentation for City G.E.A.R, an urban streetwear company.

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