Although I have never had anything to do with a gluten free diet, like most people I am familiar with the basic concept. However last week we actually went shopping for some gluten free products for guests we were entertaining.
A couple of weeks ago when we were in the old marina we made friends with a couple who came in to the pen next to us. They had come in to the marina to do repairs and had only expected to be in a week. As is usual with repair work they had to wait for parts and ended up staying three weeks.
We invited them over for drinks one evening and laid out the usual array of snacks. When they came aboard they informed us that they were on a gluten free diet. Fortunately we had provided some cut vegetables and fruit; they also brought their own supplies so it wasn’t a total disaster.
Last week we moved over to the new marina where most of the long term boats will be for the cyclone season and since it is a good walk between the two we didn’t expect to see our friends again. On the weekend they sent a text to say they were still here but hoping to leave on the Tuesday so we invited them over for farewell drinks.
When deciding on what to put out for snacks we thought it would be nice to have some gluten free savoury biscuits. Being our first foray into gluten free we weren’t really sure what we were looking for but assumed we would find something.
It was a bit of and eye opener, we thought there would be a reasonable selection to choose from but it was extremely limited. In fact we didn’t get anything at all which was a bit disappointing. We weren’t prepared to get anything that didn’t have gluten free on the label even though some products may have been ok.
To be fair we are in a remote area so the variety of foodstuff is much less than if we lived further south. Since it was all a bit too hard we just put out a bigger selection of natural food such as fruit and nuts which went down well. When we said we had had a problem buying gluten free our friends weren’t surprised since the range of products isn’t all that big.
Some people opt for a gluten free diet because of discomfort caused by wheat and related grains, however for anyone suffering from Coeliac disease a gluten free diet is the only medically accepted diet that eases the pain. Although the diet can reduce the symptoms it can lack vitamins, minerals and fibre that are contained in whole grains.
When we were in Rosslyn Bay last year we had a similar situation with a friend who was diabetic. In recent years food choices for diabetics has improved greatly but it is still crucial to read labels. In fact it was partly due to that which made Chris and I more aware of our sugar consumption and we have made a big effort to cut down.
Whilst we were in the supermarket shopping for gluten free biscuits a girl came round with a tray of freshly baked cookies from the bakery section. We both opted to have one but were shocked when we discovered how sweet they were. It was scary to think about the level of sugar you would be consuming if you ate them on a regular basis.
With more and more people finding the need to change to a gluten free diet there is no doubt the range of gluten free products will increase over time. I shall certainly take more notice in the future so that next time I shall be more prepared.