Cases of celiac disease quadruple, causing surge in gluten-free diets
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The number of people on gluten-free diets is at an all time high in the U.S. Some people choose to avoid gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and oats, but for others it is a medical must. Today the number of people with celiac disease, or an intolerance of gluten, has surged to nearly one in every one-hundred thirty-three people, quadruple the number of people just five decades ago.
“Celiac disease is being diagnosed at a much higher rate than it ever was before,” said Mary Kay Sharrett, SM, RD, LD, CNSD, from the Celiac Disease Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Even trace amounts of gluten can cause damage and painful inflammation in a patient’s digestive tract.”
But just because you or someone you know has to avoid gluten, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on backyard barbecues this summer. With a little planning and a few precautions, you can make sure your gluten-free guests are safe and satisfied at your next cookout.
For more information on gluten-free cookouts, click on the video box to the left. To read the full press release, and to get tips for your next barbecue, click on the “click to read more” link below.
Tips to Safely Eat Gluten-Free from Nationwide Children's Hospital's Celiac Nutrition Expert
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Grilling out, particularly pot-luck style, can make gluten-free barbecues challenging for families with children who are living with celiac disease.
“When going to a cookout, parents with a child who is gluten-free because of celiac disease or a wheat allergy need to make sure that cross-contamination has been avoided and that they read labels carefully,” said Mary Kay Sharrett, SM, RD, LD, CNSD, from the Celiac Disease Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Especially if gathering with a group who may not understand the particulars of a gluten-free diet.”
Take a gluten-free dish or two with you to a cookout, such as a bowl of mixed berries, baked beans, corn on the cob or a gluten-free potato salad, so that you know your child will have something to eat. Sharrett suggests bringing a gluten-free bun with you to the cookout or using a large piece of lettuce as a substitute for a hamburger bun.
“Closely watch the condiments. Read the labels, and if squeeze bottles aren’t being used, try to be first in line to avoid contamination from knives that have touched bread containing gluten,” said Sharrett.
According to Sharrett, a family who has experience eating gluten-free may want to offer to host the cookout to ensure all the details have been covered to keep the experience safe. Even crumbs from food containing gluten being left behind can be harmful for a child with celiac disease if they mix with a gluten-free dish.
In order to grill safely gluten-free, make sure only plain meat and vegetables end up on the grill. Parents should take the following precautions:
- Ask if the meat is plain. Seasoning or soup mixes containing wheat may have been added to the meat.
- Check for marinades or sauces. Marinades or sauces may contain wheat, especially if they contain soy sauce. Some soy sauce can be purchased gluten-free. Watch out for marinades made with beer.
- Check for meat substitutes. Meat substitutes, like veggie burgers, often look like the real thing, but can contain wheat.
- Wrap your food in foil while grilling. Wrapping your meat or corn on the cob in foil is crucial if you don’t know if the grill has been cleaned, especially after marinades containing gluten have been used or buns have been warmed on the grill.
- Make sure the spatula only touches plain meats or vegetables. Cross contamination with buns or marinades could be dangerous.
“The long-term effect of anyone with celiac disease being exposed to gluten is damage to the intestine. Some kids experience symptoms immediately,” said Sharrett. “As a result, many parents choose to eat at home in a controlled environment, but group cookouts are possible if you are cautious.”