Come Shopping with Us; Your Healthy GF Grocery Guide
By: Suzanne W.
The Grocery Store. Towering aisles, filled with cans, bottles, bags, boxes, and way too many options to choose from.
This place can be overwhelming for any shopper to navigate and when you’re trying to find the food that is best for you and your family it’s important to distinguish the healthy options from the not-so-healthy options. Add on some dietary restrictions and a trip to the grocery store can quickly become a daunting process. But fear not! We’re here with some simple tips to make your next gluten free shopping extravaganza a walk in the park.
Stick to the perimeter.
This is where most of the naturally gluten free items are and also some of your dietary staples. Think fresh fruit, veggies, meat, milk, eggs, yogurt, and gluten free grains such as rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.
Avoid the Bulk Bins.
They are hot-beds of cross contamination.
Look for bread both in the bakery AND freezer aisle.
Many gluten free breads (including yours truly) don’t use preservatives so are often sold frozen. However, some vendors now sell our bread and baked goods in the bakery rather than in the frozen section. The bakery department should re-date the product to reflect the 7 day use-by-date (just like gluten-filled breads) so make sure to check the expiration sticker.
Double check for gluten at the deli.
Low-fat cold cuts can be injected with wheat-based fillers to replace the lost fat. Look for a certified gluten-free label on the package and, when in doubt, ask your deli manager for a safe and healthy meat recommendation.
ALWAYS read labels.
Make sure items aren’t made in a shared facility or on shared equipment. Ingredients can also change without warning and many seemingly-innocent foods have gluten in them. When in doubt, don’t buy it. Look online, call the company, but if you still don’t know, it’s not worth it. There are so many great things that are labeled GF now, why would you waste your times with ones that aren’t?
Find the Gluten Free aisle/section/tags.
More and more stores are starting to dedicate an aisle (or section of an aisle) to certain dietary restrictions. Ask your store manager to explain how they organize their gluten free products and if there is any chance of cross contamination. A lot of grocery stores are also starting to put “GF” tags in front of products that have GF claims on their labels – look for these!
Shop for brands you know and trust.
It’s always nice to have your go-to brands that don’t bring any nasty surprises. You know they’re safe (and delicious)!
Be wary of the center aisles.
Prepared foods, soups, beans, sauces, condiments, and even spices often contain gluten to bind everything together. Look for items specifically labeled gluten free and opt for canned fruits and vegetables that do not contain a sauce.
Again, opt for the plain versions of frozen fruits and vegetables as sauces and seasoning packets more often than not contain gluten.
Take a buddy.
If you’re shopping with a new food allergy take a friend a long to help. Gluten Free Veterans are pros at navigating the grocery store and can share tricks they’ve learned along the way. In addition they may have already tried certain gluten free products that may or may not be worth purchasing.
Happy Shopping and remember to enjoy the experience! There are so many more foods you can eat, than foods you can’t.
Share your shopping experiences and tips below.