“You can get the salad.” Before restaurants began offering gluten-free options, I was used to hearing that as my only option when dining out. However, today’s world offers many opportunities for people on a gluten-free diet like me. Here at Oswald’s, I’m delighted with the array of gluten-free products we carry.
What is gluten-free?
Gluten is the protein in wheat, malt, rye, and barely. An intolerance to gluten is attributed to genes. You can either be non-celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS) or have celiac disease, which is a more severe inflammatory immunological reaction to gluten. Simply put, wheat in food makes you sick. Symptoms include diarrhea, joint pain, vomiting, and even psychiatric issues if left untreated.
NCGS is diagnosed with a simple blood test, while celiac disease is diagnosed with a genetic map; both are confirmed by a gastroenterologist with an endoscopic procedure to see the extent of the internal damage which gluten has done to the lining of the digestive system. If you suspect you may be gluten intolerant, the University of Chicago’s Celiac Center is the best place to start. They provide a wealth of fact sheets on their website and have world-class faculty doctors to guide you through the testing and diet transition.
How is gluten intolerance treated?
There is currently no cure for gluten intolerance. Eliminating gluten from your diet is the only way to treat the disease. It can seem bewildering at first to constantly check labels on boxes and ask for the gluten-free menu at restaurants, but adjusting your diet is the best way to be your own advocate.
Those with NCGS can get away with a little gluten content here and there, but people with celiac need to avoid gluten entirely. Flour can be substituted when baking and although you can’t drink beer, wine is still on the menu. All types of meat are naturally gluten-free! Cross-contamination is vital to avoid, so having a separate set of utensils and cookware is important.
Our neighbors in Naperville Plaza, Trader Joe’s and Casey’s, sell a variety of gluten-free foods.
How do you know if something is gluten-free?
Look for the “certified gluten-free” symbol on packaging and read the ingredients. If a product says “contains wheat,” avoid that item. An important distinction is between a “gluten friendly” label and “gluten-free.”
A gluten friendly product is not produced in a facility free of gluten, meaning it could be cross-contaminated. A gluten-free product is only certified as such if it is produced in a facility entirely free of gluten contaminants. Popular brands include Schär and Udi’s. If you’re looking for something local, Sweet Ali’s Bakery in Hinsdale is a great option for gluten-free baked goods.
Isn’t being gluten-free just a fad?
Sure, some celebrities have switched to gluten-free diets and countless more foodies have extolled the virtues of cutting out gluten. But, for those who suffer from celiac, it is a reality. The convenient thing about the gluten-free ‘trend’ is that supermarkets and restaurants started offering tons of gluten-free options where there were once none, or very few.
How can Oswald’s help?
Some medicines may be made with gluten. Check medicine packaging to see if it says gluten-free. When picking up your prescriptions, ask our pharmacy staff if the medication is made with ingredients that contain gluten. We also have many allergen-conscious products in our candy and snacks aisle. Look for the allergy-friendly tags or ask one of our team members for help.
Gluten-Free Products as Oswald’s
Although it doesn’t feel like it yet, summer is around the corner and it’s time to get your beach body ready. If you’re trying to get back into fitness like me, Oswald’s has some delicious and nutritious gluten-free products with plenty of protein for energy. Diet is the key to kicking gluten in the butt, and with these protein-packed foods, you’ll be all set for when it’s (finally) sunny and warm.
We carry some enticing treats to satisfy your sweet tooth too!
The Enjoy Life line of snacks include lentil chips, cookies (think Girl Scout cookies but gluten free!) and protein bites, with eight grams of protein. Available in banana chocolate and dark raspberry chocolate, Enjoy Life protein bites are like a tasty yet nutritious brownie.
88 Acres is a seed bar which comes in a variety of flavors, including oats and cinnamon, triple berry, and my personal favorite, dark chocolate sea salt. They’re great for a quick snack and have six grams of protein. I pick up a box when we get a shipment in to have them on hand when I need a pick-me-up.
Epic brand cured meat chews are flavorful, savory, and have between seven and thirteen grams of protein between their chicken, beef, and buffalo selections. The buffalo is my favorite because it has dried cranberries for a sweet touch.
No Whey makes alternative versions of your favorite candy bars, including a Reese’s replica called Pea Not Cups. With five grams of protein, they’ll give you an energy boost, but also indulge your candy craving.
For Easter, we feature No Whey’s chocolate bunny. Actually chocolate free, the bunny tastes like the real thing without any of the allergens that make you sick. On sale for $9.99, they’re perfect for Easter baskets for your children, but also getting in your chocolate fix.
Surprisingly, beans are an effective flour substitute. Beanfield’s chips come in nacho and pico de gallo flavors and are similar to Dorito’s but without the allergens. They’re great for packing in your child’s lunch or keeping in the car for a snack on your ride home from work.
A gluten-free diet might seem difficult to follow at first, but with so many products like what we have at Oswald’s, you won’t need to sacrifice flavor for being flour-free. If you’re considering switching to a gluten-free diet or concerned about your digestive health, always consult your doctor and a nutritionist before undergoing a change in diet. By reading the packaging and looking for the gluten-free certified symbol, you’ll be a savvy shopper in no time. If you have any questions, look for me, Allison, or Alex the next time you’re in. We’ll be happy to help you make a smart and satisfying selection!
Sean W. has been an Oswald’s Team Member since 2018.