Maintaining a gluten-free diet can be difficult; it certainly takes a bit of getting used to and some degree of discipline. But there are a number of perceptions and misconceptions about the difficulties of sticking to a gluten-free diet, some of which simply aren’t true. The market for gluten-free products is growing and actually making it easier to stick with a diet long-term. Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons people avoid or fail to keep up a gluten-free diet and how perceptions may be changing.
It may seem as if there is a lack of choice for those on a gluten-free diet, and some people may avoid making the change because they believe they will no longer be able to enjoy their favourite foods. But this is simply no longer the case.
Here in Australia, we are lucky enough to have a wide range of gluten-free options, with supermarkets and speciality stores stocking gluten-free versions of just about everything. Online stores have increased the availability and choice of gluten-free food even more.
While many foods and ingredients that you buy will be clearly labelled if they are gluten-free, there are those that do not. Medications can also contain gluten without making direct mention of the fact on the packaging. This can understandably make it difficult to figure out what products can be safely consumed.
But as time goes on, the number of labels that make mention of gluten is growing, and often if you do your homework, you can figure out if a product contains gluten or not based on the ingredients. There are many guides online that you can use to train yourself to be an expert label-reader.
Unfortunately, gluten-free foods do tend to be more expensive. There are several reasons for this. For one, there is more work involved in producing gluten-free products, as there are costs involved in ensuring that the ingredients are contamination-free and don’t contain gluten. There also tend to be more ingredients in these products to compensate for the lack of gluten. Also, the fact that the supply of gluten-free products is lower, which leads to higher prices.
But things are improving as time goes on. There are great competition and more choice for products as discussed. This encourages suppliers to lower their prices to compete. Further, as the demand for gluten-free products grows, production methods are improving, which drives down the costs of the supply-side. So, while gluten-free products are more expensive, things are improving over time and adopting a gluten-free diet doesn’t necessarily require you to break the bank.
Nearly everyone loves indulging themselves by tucking into a delicious dessert. But there is some feeling that gluten-free alternatives simply don’t have the same appeal. Again, this perception is changing over time.
There are a huge number of providers out there specialising in gluten-free Christmas puddings, cakes and other delicacies, with delicious options that are so good you often can’t tell the difference. Suppliers are getting better at compensating for the lack of gluten and ultimately if you buy from the right places this is a non-issue.
Convenience is definitely a factor – but any diet you are on is not going to be as convenient as just eating whatever, whenever. So naturally, some effort will be required. Luckily, the majority of restaurants in Australia will now identify their gluten-free meals, whereas 5 years ago this was much less pronounced. Even if it’s not shown on the menu, you can always have the wait staff ask the chef, who should be able to give you an answer.
Of course, eating at the house of a friend can be much more problematic. Some people on gluten-free diets will allow themselves to eat when it is particularly inconvenient to maintain such a diet. Other options may include bringing along a gluten-free dish, so at the very least you know that you’ll have something to eat.
As shown in this article, the factors that make it difficult to stick with a gluten-free diet are becoming less of an issue as time goes on. More tips are available to maintain your gluten-free diet. There are more options in terms of food and more information out there than ever before, which makes it much easier to keep the path.
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