The first question you might ask yourself is: Why is there wheat in everything? You might find the answer by spending a little time looking into U.S. Agricultural policy as it pertains to row crops over the past century.
Your next question, as someone looking to go without gluten, is: How do I avoid falling prey to this ubiquitous hazard?
1. Food label 411. First and foremost, you have to start reading food labels. Anything emblazoned with the words "gluten-free" is your friend ("wheat-free" is not the same thing). We are fortunate to live in an era where ingredient lists are almost always available: Get used to recognizing common villainous names (dextrin, malt flavoring or extract, wheat starch, etc.). The Gluten Free Diet by Shelley Case is a great resource when it comes to learning your labels.
2. Call for Help. When in doubt, contacting companies directly on their 1-800 numbers is a good way to discover all the contents of a food item, while also drawing the companies' attention to the prevalence of gluten intolerance.
3. Make friends! It's also a great idea to join a celiac support group in your area, since word-of-mouth is an incredibly efficient and reliable way to get your gluten-free life on track. The Internet is also rife with educational websites to teach you how to live healthily and happily without gluten.
The moral of the gluten-free story is that, for once, there is no gain in pain. So put your upset stomach days behind you and embrace the adventure!
Daphne Oz is the author of the national best-seller The Dorm Room Diet. She is the daughter of Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Dr. Oz on celiac disease
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