Older adults who have been diagnosed with celiac disease need to follow a strict gluten-free diet to prevent uncomfortable symptoms and damage to the intestine. Gluten is present in so many foods that it can be hard to avoid. Whether your aging relative has been following a gluten-free diet for some time or if they are new to it, knowing some tips, like the ones below, for identifying gluten in foods can make choosing the right foods easier.
Work with a Dietician
If you feel uncertain about how to help your aging relative follow a gluten-free diet, ask the senior’s doctor for a referral to a dietician who has experience with celiac disease. A dietician can provide advice about what kinds of grains don’t contain gluten and the nutrients the older adult needs.
Know the Main Sources of Gluten
Gluten is a kind of protein found in some grains. It is what gives flour mixed with water its sticky texture. In fact, the word “gluten” is Latin for “glue.” The main sources of gluten are:
Learn How to Identify Gluten on Food Labels
Gluten can be a sneaky ingredient. It’s found in foods where you might not expect it. For example, even some brands of veggie burgers contain gluten as a binding ingredient. Gluten may also be present in salad dressings and condiments. Identifying foods that contain gluten involves knowing how to read food labels and what words indicate gluten is present. In addition to looking for the names of grains that contain gluten, you’ll also need to watch for other terms that mean grains with gluten, such as:
Be Careful with Oats
Although oats are gluten-free, they may be processed in a facility where wheat is processed. This can contaminate the oats, making them unsafe for those on a gluten-free diet. To be certain that oats are gluten-free, look for the words “gluten-free” on the label.
Use Home Care
Following a gluten-free diet may be hard for older adults, especially if they are not adept at cooking or if they have cognitive issues. Home care can assist the senior to plan meals that don’t include gluten. A home care provider can also drive the older adult to the grocery store and help them to shop, reading the labels for them. Home care providers can even cook meals for your aging relative, ensuring they closely follow the diet suggested by the doctor or dietician.