How To Live A Healthy Life in The 21st Century?
Our society has never been more aware of the food we ingest, and how these ingredients interact with our bodies to affect our physical well being. Gluten is among one of the more publicised allergies and sensitivities out there, and restaurants and food manufacturers have taken note and are working to offer gluten-free food within each major food group so that everyone can retain a healthy balanced lifestyle. Not to mention, you want to do your research on the best gluten-free beer and milk chocolate for those days you want something not so healthy. If you are gluten-free yourself or have someone in your household who is, read on for a foodies guide to living gluten-free.
Your first instinct following a gluten-free diagnosis might be to go to the shops and buy a gluten-free alternative to all your favourite snacks and meals. This isn’t actually the best course of action, as gluten-free food is actually more processed than food containing gluten. Don’t believe us? Next time you are at the shops, select the same cereal containing gluten and one without and look at the sugar content of each to see how many more ingredients are in the gluten-free box.
A better option is to identify what ingredients you are looking for in your cereal (or any other food) and seek natural versions of these ingredients. Yes, you could buy the gluten-free plain flour – but you might find coconut flour or rice flour to be a healthier flour alternative that brings a unique flavour and texture to your cooking instead.
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Contamination is a source of great frustration for gluten-free individuals, and those without allergies have not fully understood the responsibility of what it means to be a ‘gluten-free friendly establishment’. Using one toaster for gluten-free and normal bread is an example of contamination, as well as not changing gloves, chopping boards and even cutlery for such dishes. The sam slip-ups occur at home and can be as simple as dipping a slightly Vegemite smeared knife into the communal butter and compromising it for the one with the allergy. Do your best to design a thoughtful kitchen format that prioritises the needs of your gluten-free individual, and makes contamination hard to occur.
Australia has the strictest gluten-free testing and labelling of anywhere in the world, with Coeliac Australia establishing a framework that international gluten policies are coming to use as the global standard. As such, what is gluten-free in one country may differ from another. To be gluten-free in Australia, the food has to have no gluten detected, whereas Europe determines gluten-free to be less than 20 mg/kg. If you have a severe reaction to any amount of gluten, be sure to scrutinise international labels and if in doubt, do not consume.
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Understanding Your Ingredients
If you asked a novice what they believe gluten to be found in, they would probably tell you bread and pasta. The truth is, it can exist in just about all ingredients and we need to be a vigil in understanding what foods are likely to contain and which foods are predominately safe. For example, most jelly lollies contain gluten as wheat is used to create and hold the shapes of those jelly lollies we love so much. Roasted chickens at the supermarket also contain gluten to create the crispy skin exterior. Knowing where gluten is present and its role in the food production will get you to a point where you can make assumptions and then verify with reading the labels.
When outlining all the precautions one needs to take to live a gluten-free lifestyle, it can seem like a huge task and one that contains little joy. But then you stumble on a great snack or restaurant that is totally gluten-free and can be added to your list of favourites and then the responsibility doesn’t seem so great. Putting in the effort will always reward your efforts, so don’t lose your foodie touch!
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