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Food Sensitivities: Gluten-Free, Celiac Disease, and Hidden Dangers You Should Know About

Americans are becoming aware that an obesity epidemic is sweeping our nation. The latest figures report that more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight (BMI or 25-29) or obese (BMI of 30+). Many insurance companies charge higher rates on health insurance for those living with obesity. Be sure to ask for a quote today, and read on to understand more about this growing problem.

With all these weighty issues, the diet industry has been beefing up its offerings. One popular option is the gluten-free diet. Much hype surrounds the gluten-free diet and lifestyle. Web sites, blogs, cookbooks, and celebrity-backed companies dedicated to the concept have popped up. Wheat, as we know it today, is not the wheat of our forebears. Today’s wheat is genetically modified, subject to industrial milling, bleached to achieve maximum whiteness, and what is worse, nutritional value is removed. The process of industrial milling actually removes most of the vitamins and proteins from the wheat. Since 1941, flours in the U.S. have been enriched (elements are added after the milling process) to reduce neural tube defects and spina bifida. There are hundreds of varieties of wheat and these different varieties are used for different products. Harder wheats are used for breads and pasta. Softer wheats are used for cookies, cakes, pastries, and crackers. Having lost much nutritional value, today’s wheat is engineered for a high-carb lifestyle. This reduced, stripped, cleaned wheat is ideal for adding to fast food breads and buns, empty calorie snacks, and other items to create a “food product” that can sit on a shelf for months before expiring. Many healthier people are making a choice today, and eschewing all wheat and other carb-rich menu items such as white rice, pasta, and refined sugars. This gluten-free approach can trim your waistline and make you feel more energetic as well. When you are living with someone who MUST eat a gluten-free diet due to Celiac Disease however, additional caution is required.

Hidden Dangers
When choosing a gluten-free lifestyle, it’s relatively easy to simply switch up white or brown rice with quinoa, or skip it altogether. Other swaps include gluten free breads, corn tortillas, granolas, and cereals. Even warehouse chains like Costco and Sam’s Club carry a decent selection of gluten-free options. Buying gluten-free ingredients is easy. What isn’t easy to control, however, are the hidden dangers of following a strict gluten-free diet, such as:

•    Cross-Contamination – Who knew that an activity as simple as making a sandwich could turn into a life or death situation for someone living with Celiac Disease? When making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as one example, a table knife used to spread peanut butter on regular bread should NEVER be used to “double-dip” and spread that same peanut butter on to gluten-free bread if you have a celiac kid or adult in the house. Remember to grab a new knife and wash the knife used on bread thoroughly in hot soapy water. Obviously, the best bet is to switch the entire family to a gluten-free diet, but this isn’t always feasible.

•    Hidden ingredients – salad dressings, vinegars, and soy sauce often contain gluten. Be sure to check the label before you buy!

•    Eating out – Restaurants carry more gluten-free menu items these days, but how can you guarantee that they aren’t contaminated by gluten-full items? The simple answer is, you cannot. For example, their gluten-free pizza dough maybe be rolled out or prepared on a surface with regular flour or baked in a pizza oven where gluten-full pizzas were baked previously. Your best bet is to eat at home, or, if you must eat out, bring a home-prepared meal for the celiac person.

•    Thorough dish washing – be sure that dishes are thoroughly washed in hot water and sterilized if someone in the house is living with Celiac.

Save on health insurance by taking better care of yourself. Start today by utilizing our gluten-free ideas. What’s your favorite gluten-free recipe? Let us know in the comments section below. Stop by one of our many area locations, give us a call, or visit us online for a , and choose a policy that fits your lifestyle.

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