HOW TO SURVIVE GLUTEN-FREE?
Being strictly gluten-free means the exclusion of gluten-containing cereals – wheat, barley and rye – in the diet. In China it might be tricky. The strictness of gluten exclusion depends on your condition. In a case of coeliac disease even traces of gluten are harmful and eventually cause serious inflammation of the small intestine. If you are a coeliac, it’s best to stick to foods and dishes you really know – and always to have some GF snacks with you, just in case. Following a GF diet by voluntary choice can be somewhat more relaxed.
Safety needs to be considered when eating out. There are many hidden sources of gluten in food and sauces and the biggest risk for a coeliac is cross-contamination in the kitchen during the food preparation or service. Gluten can accidentally end up in your GF food via shared tools, wok pans and deep-frying oil, unless specially handled. When cooking at home for your coeliac child or friend, similarly, even breadcrumbs from shared toasters or cutting boards are harmful. Finding strictly GF food is challenging in China as chefs are not familiar with the diet and its restrictions. To ease communication, we provide you with a gluten-free restaurant card, find it here.
When ordering in restaurants and cafes, please spread GF awareness and choose:
- Non-breaded meat, poultry and fish
- Non-thickened soups
- Salads with no croutons or bread bases
- Plain vegetables, rice, potatoes and fruit
When grocery shopping other foods to be careful of include: canned foods, convenience food, frozen meals, vegetarian dishes with wheat gluten pieces (seitan) and “mock meat.” Sauces are one of the most risky and often a source of gluten. Soy sauce, salad dressings and seasonings are all high-risk too. Similarly, stock cubes and powders, as well as pre-packed soymilks and tea blends may contain barley malt, another source of gluten. Although plain potatoes are safe, French fries and potato wedges may be floured for extra crispiness and therefore contain gluten. The more obvious foods to avoid are snacks, seasoned nuts and ice creams if served with biscuits, waffle or cake crumbs. And unfortunately beer and licorice often contain gluten as well.
Luckily there’s still a wide variety of healthy, naturally GF foods and ingredients to enjoy. Find the list here. Still, note that only certified GF-labeled cereal products are recommended in a gluten-free diet to avoid contamination. In China, the availability of GF-certified products is still very limited.
Photo from here.
Keen on learning more?
Contact us: contact @ gluten-freechina.com