When first learning how to shop gluten-free, the unfamiliarity of it all may seem tedious and frustrating. But don’t worry, it gets easier and easier as you learn the ropes. Some steps you can take to help navigate your way through the store and make your experience less time-consuming and more efficient include
• Try to visit natural food stores because they specialize in carrying gluten-free products; your options will be more plentiful and members of the staff are often knowledgeable about these products. Many stores, like Whole Foods Market, offer regular gluten-free store tours.
• Ask the store manager if they have a typed list of the gluten-free products they carry. This tool is handy for finding them in the store and for making future shopping lists, to have for reference, and menu planning. Large national grocery chains typically don’t have these pre-printed lists, but as with so many other benefits that are coming to light with the growing awareness of the gluten-free diet, many stores are beginning to offer them.
• Research gluten-free manufacturer products before hitting the store by visiting Internet malls that cater to the gluten intolerant consumers. You can scope out the offerings and make notes of the products and product manufacturers you would like to try, then see if your neighborhood grocer carries them. To get started, visit www.gluten-freemall.com or www.allergygrocers.com.
• Take your shopping list of staples that you usually buy and write down their gluten-free counterparts. For example, you can no longer buy American Beauty pasta, but you can find brands like Tinkyada Pasta Joy, Heartland’s Finest, or Orgran. Online research ahead of time can help also.
• Never put anything in the cart without reading the label thoroughly. You don’t want to get home only to find that your chicken broth contains wheat starch and have to return it.