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Do You Have Questions About Eating Gluten-Free?

By Alexandra Anca & Theresa Santandrea-Cull

Do You Have Questions About Eating Gluten-Free?

Complete Gluten-Free Diet and Nutrition Guide

Author Q&A with Alexandra Anca and Theresa Santandrea-Cull


Q1.  What is celiac disease?

A1.  Celiac disease is a genetically based autoimmune response where the body attacks itself as a form of self-defence.  This reaction is triggered by gluten.


Q2.  What is gluten?

A2.  Gluten is a component of the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and kamut.  Oats used to be part of the list because of the high risk of cross-contamination.  However, the availability of pure, uncontaminated oats has made it easy for those with celiac disease to include oats as part of the gluten-free diet.


Q3.  What is the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

A3.  Celiac disease triggers a reaction where one’s antibodies start destroying the lining of the intestines, leading to many other health complications.  Gluten sensitivity causes gastrointestinal discomfort:  bloating, gas and cramping without any underlying damage to the lining of the intestines.  Therefore, those with celiac disease need to follow the gluten-free diet 100% of the time - this includes reading labels, cooking gluten-free meals and avoiding cross-contamination at home and while eating away.  Those who are sensitive to gluten need only avoid major sources of gluten to improve their symptoms.


Q4.  Is a gluten-free diet healthy?

A4.  It can certainly be healthy but research shows that a large majority of celiac disease sufferers are still not meeting their daily-recommended intakes of fibre, iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D.  This means many continue to suffer from constipation, low energy levels, fatigue and weak bones despite following a gluten-free diet.


Q5.  Why are they still experiencing deficiencies?

A5.  When first diagnosed with celiac disease, most people tend to choose foods made from alternatives that are familiar:  white rice, potatoes and corn.  These happen to be poor in fibre, iron, calcium and vitamin D.  Also, keep in mind that most gluten-free products available on the market are not fortified as their regular alternatives. 


Q6.  Can everyone benefit from the gluten-free diet?

A6.  The gluten-free diet may not benefit everyone.  Many pre-packaged gluten-free products are higher in calories, carbohydrates, sugar and fat than their regular counterparts and lower in fiber, vitamins and iron.  This is why it is so important for those who adopt a gluten-free diet to cook their meals and enjoy a wide variety of nutritious gluten-free grains, fruits and vegetables and other recommended sources of protein from Canada’s Food Guide.


Q7.  How is the Complete Gluten-Free Diet and Nutrition Guide different from other books?

A7.  One of the unique features of this book is a 30-day meal plan that will take the guesswork out of balancing adequate intakes of fibre, iron, calcium and other important nutrients while preparing delicious and healthy gluten-free meals.  It will enable those with celiac disease to improve their symptoms and maintain a healthy weight.