For a long time I've been asked to provide some kind of on-line source for information about Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free foods and cooking. Celiac Disease is in the headlines more and more and the latest statistics indicate that about 1 out of every 100 persons in the US has Celiac Disease.
As a little bit of a background, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in January of 2001. Since then, Johnnie and I have occasionally integrated Celiac related news stories and features into our show as a way of increasing awareness of Celiac Disease. In fact, we're proud to proclaim that we are the world's first Gluten-Free radio show!:-)
The most important thing I can tell you is ... RELAX!!!! Knowing what the problem is, is half the battle. Yes, it can be a bit difficult to find some of the things you'll need, but it's getting a lot easier and the good news is that there are a lot of groups and web sites with good information.
By the way, if you haven't been medically diagnosed with Celiac Disease (Celiac Sprue), going on a Gluten-Free diet before you're tested will only cause the tests to show false results. As painful as it may be, please don't go on the diet before you see your doctor and have the tests.
If you're one of our listeners in the Chicago area you'll be glad to know that, in the Midwest, we have some stores that are completely dedicated to Gluten-Free products. One is The Gluten-Free Store USA, in Northbrook, IL. Another is The Gluten-Free Trading Company, in Milwaukee, WI. Johnnie and I have been to both stores and they're run by people who either have Celiac Disease themselves or have family members with Celiac Disease, so they are VERY aware of the problem and are very particular about the products they carry. If you're in Chicago's western suburbs, you now have a source at the Gluten-Free Grocery, in Westchester. And in the southern suburbs there's The Free From Market, in Orland Park, IL.
Illinois Nut & Candy, in Skokie, has Gluten-Free goodies for those of you with a sweet tooth. Yes, that includes licorice and jelly beans! Goodday Gluten Free, in Lake Forest, is another "mom & pop" operation serving the Gluten-Free community.
Whole Foods recently started selling Gluten-Free bakery products at many of their stores nationwide. They have a dedicated Gluten-Free baking facility so, if there is a Whole Foods grocery in your area, give them a call and see if they are one of the locations carrying gluten-free products.
Speaking of bakery products, if you're in the Evanston area, you have to check out Rose's WheatFree Bakery & Cafe. We have and their offerings are wonderful!
You'll find more and more Gluten-Free products available in a lot of "mainstream" stores. For example, Lays Stax Chips (all flavors) are labeled right on the back as being "naturally free of Gluten." They come in handy when you're traveling because they're available at gas stations as well as grocery stores. They're the ones in the blue plastic tube. However, one thing to consider is that they are produced on the same line as Lay's products that DO contain Gluten. Although the lines are washed between batches, a slight residue may remain on the lines. Individuals who are extremely sensitive may be affected.
Wal-Mart recently announced that it would be carrying Gluten-Free products in their larger stores with grocery products. Many of them are Wal-Mart's "Great Value" house brand but, check with your local Wal-Mart to make sure and ALWAYS read the ingredients on the label.
Also, we just heard that Target is carrying some Gluten-Free products.
Trader Joe's is another location for Gluten-Free products .
You'll find additional Chicago area store suggestions on this list put together by the Celiac Sprue Association Of Greater Chicago.
Now then, how's about some links to sites with helpful information?
Here you go:
The Celiac List is a wonderful, free, on-line resource you can join and get daily message updates. You can post questions to the list and get answers from people living with Celiac Disease.
The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is another great resource. We have their experts on our show, regularly.