Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijerhealthyliving.com
Gastrointestinal symptoms are common in children with autism, but the underlying cause of these symptoms has been unclear. Several studies have suggested a gluten sensitivity or intolerance in autistic children, but results have been inconsistent. A new research study published June 28, 2013 in the online medical journal PLOS identified immune markers gliadin antibodies present in a group of children with autism, indicating that these children had an immune sensitivity to gluten/gliadin (proteins found in wheat), similar to but different from reactions in those with celiac disease.
Researchers state that that this study gives a clearer picture of immune response in children with autism, but that more research—in larger groups—needs to be done before making definitive statements about autism and gluten sensitivity. Parents of children with autism may wish to have their children tested for wheat or gluten allergies and, if sensitivity is discovered, implement a gluten free diet for their child.
In celiac disease, gluten protein found in common grains such as wheat, rye, barley and some oat grains can cause a wide range of health problems including intestinal issues (including diarrhea), joint pain and weight loss. Those with gluten sensitivity or intolerance can also experience these same symptoms. Keep these tips in mind for becoming a gluten-free family:
• Focus on what you can eat, rather than what you can’t.
At first, eliminating foods containing wheat, rye, barley and other gluten-containing grains from your diet might make you feel like you are being deprived of your favorite foods, but there are many delicious gluten-free foods you can enjoy. So focus on what you can eat.
• Enjoy gluten free grains
You can still enjoy nutritious whole grains and remain gluten-free. Whole grains that do not naturally contain gluten include: amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, montina (Indian rice grass), quinoa, rice (both brown and colored rice), sorghum, teff and wild rice.
• Focus meals on naturally gluten-free foods.
Fruits, vegetables, unprocessed meats, seafood and dairy products are naturally gluten free. (Pre-seasoned meat and seafood products may contain gluten, so be sure to check the label.)
• Avoid cross-contamination.
Wheat flour can remain in the air for 24 to 36 hours, potentially contaminating cooking surfaces. Using the same cutting board to slice gluten-containing bread and gluten-free bread can cause cross-contamination. Thoroughly scrub all cooking utensils and cooking surfaces before preparing gluten-free foods if you have gluten-containing foods in the same kitchen.
Shopping for Gluten-Free Foods at Meijer
When shopping at Meijer, locate the blue and white Meijer Gluten Free “GF” logo on products to easily identify gluten-free store items. More and more Meijer brand products carry the Gluten Free callout, but the Gluten Free callout will not appear on foods that are naturally gluten-free. If you do not see a Gluten Free logo, be sure to check the ingredient list.
Also visit Meijermealbox.com/healthy-living for an Enhanced Meijer Brand Gluten-Free Product List, as well as a gluten free resource page.
Gluten Free Recipes:
Chilled Avocado Salad
3 Tbsp. Meijer olive oil
2 Tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. McCormick dried oregano
1/4 tsp. McCormick cumin
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces
1 1/2 cups Meijer cooked brown or white rice, cooled
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 green onion, sliced
1/8 tsp. salt
McCormick ground black pepper
1. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt, oregano and cumin in large bowl. Add avocado; toss gently to coat.
2. Add rice, black beans, tomato and green onion; toss gently to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Optional: Add 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 294, Fat 14g, Cholesterol 57mg, Sodium 61mg, Carbohydrate 35g, Fiber 6g, Protein 7g.
Recipe source: meijermealbox.com, tryfoods international
Gluten Free Blueberry Cobbler
6 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp orange zest
3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking mix (such as Bisquick Gluten Free)
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp fat-free milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp egg white
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 11×7-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place blueberries in baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar plus orange zest; toss to coat.
2. For the topping, in a small bowl combine baking mix, remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar plus butter and milk; mix well. Spoon over blueberry mixture.
3. In a small bowl combine almonds, the 2 tbsp. sugar and egg white; sprinkle over blueberry mixture. (NOTE: Omit this step if you do not wish to use almonds)
4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.