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A quick guide to living gluten-free with diabetes

For many people living with diabetes, celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity can add to the challenge of eating healthy meals every day. The holidays―and all the delicious baked goods that come with them―are right around the corner. So here's a quick guide to what it means to live gluten-free.

Gluten sensitivity or celiac disease?

The symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can be the same―stomach pains, headache, joint pain, fatigue or other symptoms that occur after a person eats a food containing gluten. If you suspect that you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, talk to your doctor about getting tested. Celiac disease can be diagnosed by a doctor performing a blood test. If the results come back negative for celiac, gluten sensitivity may be the diagnosis. Either way, if your body has difficulty processing gluten, you may need to incorporate a gluten-free diet into your self-care.1

Gluten and diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk for celiac disease, as both are autoimmune diseases. So be sure to talk to your doctor about switching to a gluten-free diet. And remember that "gluten free" does not equal "low carb," and many processed gluten-free foods are packed with other types of sugars. They may not be the healthiest choices for your blood sugar.2

Foods to avoid

If you and your healthcare provider have determined that you need a gluten-free diet, it's time to take wheat, barley and rye grains off your plate. But there are many other sources of gluten you may not have imagined, including beer, oats, processed dressings and sauces, soy sauce and seasonings that you'd find on potato chips or in dry pasta mixes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has compiled a helpful list of foods that contain gluten to look out for.

The good stuff

As you can see from the list mentioned above, fresh fruits and vegetables are the way to go. Other gluten-free goodies to keep in your pantry include beans, yogurt, cheese, corn, flax, sweet potatoes and gluten-free eaters' best friends, quinoa and rice.

Get cooking!

Need ideas? The ADA offers great suggestions for delicious diabetes-friendly, gluten-free meals to get you started.

1Celiac Disease Foundation. Non-celiac wheat sensitivity. Available at: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/non-cel.... Accessed October 6, 2016.

2Diabetic Living. Gluten and diabetes: Is there a connection? Available at: http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/food-to-eat/nutrition/gluten-and-dia.... Accessed October 6, 2016.

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