Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, or NCGS, is fairly difficult to identify. In many ways, it looks just like other gastrointestinal disorders, and there’s still research being done to better define the condition.
Because the testing and defining of this sensitivity are still in the early stages, professionals don’t have an exact estimate of how many people deal with this, or even what causes it.
Current, self-reported data suggests between 0.5% and 13% of the general population has Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, but most specialists agree that this number is most likely higher, and will be proven to be so once the research has caught up. The same study has found that this sensitivity is higher in women and teenagers.Recent advances in understanding non-celiac gluten sensitivity
In general, the symptoms include a reaction of gas, bloating, cramping, irregular bowel movements, fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea after consuming foods containing gluten. Other symptoms that are often ignored include headaches, joint and muscle pain, numbness/tingling/swelling of the extremities, and even various forms of dermatitis, including eczema and skin rashes.
After the diagnosis, the true work begins. How do can you adjust your life to fit these new needs, without the diagnosis totally changing your lifestyle?
4 Tips for Eating Well With NCGS
1. Focus on Your Favorite Foods First.
It might be tempting as a first reaction to over-simplify your diet, completely clearing out your pantry and starting a brand-new diet. While this can be a good step to take, we highly recommend first making a list of all of your favorite foods and investigating them one-by-one.
While many of them might contain gluten, or be potentially cross-contaminated, there might be some that are completely safe to eat! During a difficult transition like this, you’ll want some go-to options that you know are safe and can bring you a feeling of comfort and normalcy.
For the foods that aren’t gluten-free, start researching and experimenting with replacement ingredients or different shops that focus on translating our favorite foods into gluten-free options.
You might want to check this list of Top 8 Food Triggers for Celiac Sufferers to Avoid.
2. Start Reading Labels.
The faster you can master and normalize this skill, the better off you’ll be. Many well-meaning friends, relatives, and shop employees will recommend certain products or dishes, but in the end, you can’t be sure it’s gluten-free until you read the label.
The product may boast “Wheat-Free!” but that doesn’t mean it’s gluten-free. You might find an “allergens list” on the label, which can help simplify your search, but just in case, here are a few ingredients that mean the product is NOT gluten-free:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Oats (unless specifically labeled gluten-free)
3. Get Familiar with Safe Options for Eating Out.
Next, you might find going out for a brunch with friends, or a dinner date becomes more tedious. A good step to take when transitioning into this new lifestyle is making a list of “Safe Restaurants” in your area.
It might take some time, a little research, and a few phone calls, but you’ll be thanking yourself later when making plans last-minute. Some online grocery stores even make meals-to-order, allowing you full control over the ingredients used, while still enjoying food that you didn’t have to make yourself.
Living with NCGS doesn’t mean giving up things you love, or the people you love, but it does mean being more intentional and prepared to take care of your body.
4. Use a Food Preference Shopping App.
Finally, for many families, grocery shopping is already a slightly difficult chore, and unless you’re the one who’s shopping, there’s no guarantee that your partner, parent, or child will remember to read the label. Meal-planning, finding new dishes you like, and keeping track of the ingredients you need can be overwhelming, and not every online grocery shop is set up to serve those who need gluten-free options.
Luckily, there’s an app for that!
Meet foodlama – Your trusted shopping assistant
Online grocery sites don’t cater well to people who shop with dietary restrictions or preferences like having Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Tedious reading of individual ingredients list of products and poor recommendations can leave consumers tired, frustrated, and stuck- that is if they even have the time for all of those steps! Foodlama helps you easily discover what you or your household can or can’t have at your favorite grocers (like TESCO, ASDA, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Morrisons, Iceland, Aldi, Ocado), and makes the best substitute recommendations for what you cannot have.