11 tips for gluten-free grocery shopping

The gluten-free diet presents a great opportunity to reinvent the way you shop and to go back to the roots of healthy eating

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Tips for healthy shopping

People with celiac disease feel much better about the way they eat when they acknowledge and embrace the fact that the only way to treat it is by eating a gluten-free diet. They shop differently, no longer relying on processed foods. They find themselves shopping along the perimeter of the grocery store. One by one, fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh meats, poultry and fish; followed by dairy, eggs and cheese, become their new staples.

Celiac disease or not, here are some rules of thumb for healthy shopping:

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fruit plate

1. Buy fresh food

What could be healthier and more wholesome? The beauty of the gluten-free diet is that most fresh foods are also gluten-free. Fruits, vegetables, fresh meats, poultry, seafood, dairy, legumes and fruit juices are the healthiest of foods and also gluten-free. Remember how your parents and grandparents used to cook? Fresh and simple.

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shopping grocery produce

2. Always shop the perimeter of the store first

The less you find yourself in the centre aisles, the easier and healthier your trip to the grocery store will be.

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shopping grocery list

3. Shop with a list

Save time, money and empty calories by sticking to what you know you need. This will prevent you from wandering toward the snacks aisle.

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Ham slices

4. Speak up at the deli counter

If you are buying deli meat, ensure against gluten contamination by asking that the blade be cleaned before the deli clerk slices your order. Be proactive and ensure that the brands of deli meats you choose are gluten-free.

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5. Do not shop on an empty stomach

Have a snack before you head out shopping.This will make you less vulnerable to buying calorie-rich snacks like potato chips and chocolate bars-yes, many of these are gluten-free! If you can’t have a meal, plan to bring along a snack, such as a piece of fruit and a few almonds, walnuts or soy nuts.

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6. Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables

Believe it or not, frozen fruits and veggies are just as healthy, if not healthier, than fresh ones! Often they are ripe and flash-frozen at the source, meaning that nutrients and antioxidants are preserved. You can easily incorporate vegetables in soups, quiches and casseroles. Fruits can easily be served over gluten-free waffles or pancakes, incorporated into smoothies or mixed in with yogurt or ice cream. When the season’s over for berries, buy frozen ones without added sugars to get a taste of summer!

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beans on spoons

7. Embrace the mighty bean

Most brands of regular canned beans are not only gluten-free but also filling, nutritious, and delicious. A cup of cooked beans is an excellent source of fibre (15 grams), folate, iron and calcium. Beans have been linked to lowering cholesterol, reducing plaque in patients with fatty plaques in their arteries, and improving insulin resistance.

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8. Look for fibre

Lack of fibre leads to constipation and is a challenge when you’re following the gluten-free diet. Introducing too much fibre too quickly can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as gas, bloating and cramping. Take it easy as you introduce or increase servings of quinoa, corn, pure oats and other gluten-free alternatives to wheat.

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9. Dress up your morning cereal

You don’t need to limit yourself to plain cream of rice. Why not add some fresh or frozen fruit, raisins, plain roasted almond slivers, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds or chia seeds? Make your own trail mix, keep it in a well-sealed wide-mouth jar and add a tablespoon or two to your cereal or eat 1?4 cup (60 mL) for an afternoon snack on the go.

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10. Buy plain yogurt and flavour it at home

For a lot of people, the taste of plain yogurt just doesn’t cut it. However, the commercial brands almost always have too much sugar and empty calories. Consider adding a teaspoon (5 mL) of honey or jam to plain yogurt along with your favorite frozen berries and some cinnamon or nutmeg. It will still be delicious and you will save both calories and money.

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gluten-free banana bread

11. Try delicious gluten-free baked items.

Wheat is not the only grain with nutritional properties. Plenty of alternative grains are delicious and nutritious!


Excerpted from Complete Gluten-Free Diet & Nutrition Guide by Alexandra Anca and Theresa Santandrea-Cull © 2010 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


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