Today's gluten free products, such as breads, cakes, cookies, pasta and snacks, make living on the celiac diet easier than ever before.
Have you noticed the increase in these products on your local supermarket or grocery store shelves?
In years gone by it was difficult to find a mail order supplier of the basics such as flour and bread, but celiac sufferers can now find many varieties of goods, such as those provided by Dietary Specials, alongside their normal grocery items.
Having grown up on tinned bread that was as dry and unappetizing as sawdust, and only being able to eat a piece of cake or a cookie if my Mum cooked them for me, the choice nowadays is wonderful!
It seems as though the manufacturers are realizing that there is a market for gluten free foods.
Whether this is due to the higher numbers of people being diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, or the fact that the diet seems to have become a fad weight-loss program among certain celebrities, is open to discussion.
So why am I finding that often the gluten free shelves are empty? Does my neighborhood have a higher than average number of resident celiac's?
It seems that many people are under the impression that swapping wheat breads for the gluten free version, can help them to lose weight, and they are choosing to go gluten free. Considering that these products often contain MORE calories than gluten containing foods, that premise is unlikely to be true.
As any good dietician will tell you, the key to a healthy, long life, is a well balanced diet. Cutting out particular food groups, types or elements can lead to malnutrition.
If a certain ingredient makes you unwell, then it is sensible to visit your doctor to see if there is an underlying cause.
If the tests prove negative, but you feel better eliminating the suspected foodstuff from your diet, then by all means do so. But do check with a nutritionist to ensure that you are still getting all the nutrients you require.
If you have been diagnosed with celiac, or gluten intolerance, then there is no choice but to give up all foods containing gluten.
So what is the catch to this growing availability of manufactured gluten free products? Will your weekly shopping bill increase?
Unfortunately, at the moment the answer is probably, YES. These products are more expensive to produce. The companies producing them tell us that they need specialized equipment and procedures in order for their products to be verified gluten free.
Will those prices go down? I wish I had the answer to that question. In essence the answer should be yes. The increase in demand should mean a decrease in costs, eventually.
If you are a keen cook you can save money by doing your own gluten free baking rather than buying them ready to eat. But that convenience factor may be worth more to you? If so, there are some ways to still save money.
Buying online, in bulk, can reduce your costs dramatically. But do keep the best before dates in mind, some gluten free products, especially flours, may have a short shelf life.
If you belong to a local celiac disease support group you may find that there is someone prepared to share a bulk order with you.
If you live in the UK, and are officially diagnosed with coeliac disease (as it is spelled in the UK), then you should be entitled to a certain amount of gluten free products on prescription. Don't forget that the NHS Prescription Charge Certificate is worth consideration, as it can save you a lot of money.
Remember, just because ready made gluten free products are now available, you don't have to eat them. Instead of substituting wheat based cakes and cookies with high calorie gluten free varieties, you can opt for naturally gluten free foods, which are a lot cheaper.
As a treat, occasionally, they are wonderful and I for one, are happy that they are available. However, eaten every day they are not going to help you lose weight!
Oh and do me a favor? If there is only one loaf of gluten free bread left on the shelf, and you don't HAVE to eat gluten free, leave it for someone who does have to, won't you?