This week’s question from http://foodpicker.org is….
I have type 2 diabetes and just found out I have gluten intolerance. I haven’t been able to figure out what I can eat. I have been leaving grains out of my diet. What should I do?
That is really tough. It can be very hard to have two diet-restrictive disorders at once. You learn to count carbs, then find out you can’t have a large chunk of them anyway. It’s completely understandable to be frustrated and wondering what the heck can you eat.
Gluten intolerance is commonly referred to as celiac disease. Anything that contains gluten, like wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats, will give you problems, and can destroy your intestinal villi. These are tiny finger-like projections in your intestines that help you absorb nutrients. When they are destroyed, it is easy to get nutrient deficiencies, aside from having stomach problems. So when you are shopping for a diabetic-healthy diet, it can be hard to avoid gluten, because it is in a lot of processed foods, and is even in things you wouldn’t really consider having it, like soy sauce.
Fortunately, where there is a will, there is a way. It takes planning and good label reading skills, but it is possible. There are many different approaches you can take to avoid gluten.
1) Take the whole-foods approach. Cooking from scratch may be time-consuming, but you can rest assured that what you put in it is what you’re eating. Using fresh produce, meats, rice, etc. make a variety of meals, and none contain gluten.
2) Read labels, read labels, read labels!! If you don’t want to give up packaged foods, that’s okay, just be careful of those ingredient lists. You’ll find that wheat flour is in a lot, or will have some sort of rye or barley. For instance, you might think Rice Chex cereal would be okay, but you’ll find on the ingredient list “barley malt extract.” You can never look at ingredient lists too much when you have Celiac. Unsure? Play it safe and don’t eat it.
3) Shop gluten-free. Fortunately shopping gluten-free is now easier than ever before. More and more food companies are making their own lines of gluten-free products. Search for items that advertise themselves as “gluten-free.” If you are looking for ideas: http://www.glutenfree.com/index.cfm .
4) Monitor your blood sugar closely. You are making a drastic change in your carbohydrates by eliminating gluten. Be careful with this, and monitor your sugar to get an idea of how your new diet is effecting you. It may take some time to get used to and to try different products.
This can be a hard adjustment, but hang in there, and don’t feel discouraged if you make mistakes. Avoiding gluten and maintaining your blood sugar is a huge accomplishment, and you should feel proud of yourself for any progress made. You should also be feeling a lot better physically as well, when gluten is out of the picture!
Oh, before I sign off…take a look at these recipes!