Most people can’t imagine having to go without a freshly baked bread roll at breakfast time or a delicious piece of cake in the afternoon. However, those of us who don’t tolerate gluten (a sticky protein that is found in various kinds of cereals) have to go without them every day. Just one mouthful can cause physical symptoms such as stomach cramps. However, gluten-free foods can also be enjoyable. We’ve detailed all the things you have to watch out for and provided some useful tips on living with gluten intolerance.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac) is not an allergy or simple food intolerance. In fact it's an autoimmune disease, where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues.
In people with coeliac disease this immune reaction is triggered by gluten, a collective name for a type of protein found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley. A few people are also sensitive to oats.
The only way to control it is to eliminate gluten from the diet.. According to the Coeliac UK organisation, it is thought that 1 in 100 people in the UK have coeliac disease but a lot of people are not actually diagnosed. Coeliac disease is most frequently diagnosed in people aged 40-60 years old, although it can develop at any age. The symptoms range from diarrhoea and vomiting to weight loss. That’s why coeliac disease is so difficult to diagnose, even though it is easy to remedy by eliminating gluten from the diet. Here are a few tips on shopping for a gluten-free diet.
- Find out which foods contain gluten and which don’t. You can download a list of gluten-free foods here.
- Coeliac UK publishes a list of the most readily available gluten-free products at food retail outlets. It's a big help when you're food shopping!
- Surf the web. There are all kinds of products on the internet and it’s easy to buy them from online shops that specialise in gluten-free products.
- Read the label carefully. Manufacturers have been required by law to state the 14 most important food allergens on their product labels since November 2005. However, this only applies to packaged foods. If you don't know what one of the ingredients listed on the label is, it’s best not to buy the product.
- Starch containing gluten has to be specifically declared. According to the EU Labelling Directive, products manufactured after February 2000 which state starch and modified starch on their labels have to contain gluten-free starch.
- Be careful when you shop abroad. Even products and brands that are identical to the ones you use at home can have different ingredients. That’s why it’s always important to read the label carefully or obtain information from the country’s coeliac disease association.
- Remember that storing your gluten-free products with products that contain gluten can cause gluten contamination. So always store them and prepare them separately.
Kikkoman gluten-free soy sauce
Kikkoman has developed a soy sauce for people who are gluten intolerant. New naturally brewed Tamari gluten-free soy sauce seasons your foods and adds variety to a controlled diet. It also provides gluten-free diet followers with a far wider variety of flavours. The naturally brewed gluten-free sauce is made out of soy beans, water, salt and alcohol – but it doesn’t contain any wheat, supplementary flavour enhancers or colour additives. Despite the different formula, it is just as versatile as the original. You can use it to season and enhance the flavour of practically all foods. The 250 ml bottle is available from Sainsbury’s supermarkets.