Individuals with celiac disease and those with a myriad of other stomach disorders must monitor their diets carefully to eliminate their intake of gluten and other ingredients.
Today, manufacturers, chefs and other food personnel have made it less arduous to follow the gluten-free path. From grocery stores carrying gluten-free products, to restaurant menus touting recipes without gluten, and cookbook authors offering diverse recipes for the limited lifestyle, consumers have choices.
"Gluten intolerance has become a lot more widely understood," says Bette-Jeanne Arbor, co-owner with her husband Gerry of Molly Bea's Ingredients in Chesterton. Arbor says more people are being helped by medical personnel, lifestyle coaches and food experts to better identify it these days. "And they're coming to the store and asking for various products."
At Molly Bea's Ingredients, Arbor sells a variety of products, including granola and corn flakes, assorted flours, baking mixtures, almond butter, licorice, relishes, candy, snack bars and other gluten-free goodies.
According to the National Celiac Awareness Foundation, one in 133 Americans have celiac disease, which is aggravated by consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. "People are learning to make much better choices with the foods they eat," says Nancy Cherven, a gluten-free lifestyle coach from Crown Point.
Cherven, who has had an intolerance to gluten for twelve years, says she's been helping others as a lifestyle coach for the past six years. And she's noticed many more options in the marketplace for those on a restrictive diet. She says food manufacturers and other experts have made great strides in informing people about what's in their food. "They've made huge efforts in the U.S. and Canada to label products so people know what they're eating."
Highland resident Brandi Hayes recently started a gluten-free blog (glutenfreekids-brandi.blogspot.com) as well as Twitter and Facebook pages dedicated to the gluten-free lifestyle. She initially started it because her 2-year-old son can't consume gluten. While there's much gluten-free information out in the marketplace for adults, Hayes says, "I didn't find a lot of resources out there for parents with kids who are gluten-free, so I wanted to try to help people."
Cherven says the best thing to keep in mind when you're baking or making gluten-free recipes is to take "baby steps." If you experiment little by little, it's easier to be successful.