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How To Eat Less Gluten Without Buying Expensive ‘Gluten-Free’ Groceries

As the world struggles to keep up with global supply chain shortages and inflationary pricing, people with gluten-free diets are especially noticing the squeeze on their budgets. Gluten-free alternatives have always been more expensive than processed, wheat-based options (which should tell you something about the value of most mainstream food), but the gap is growing even more rapidly of late.

Most common sense health advocates do not encourage a total exorcism of gluten from the diet, but instead encourage eaters to treat those types of foods (bread, pasta, barley, etc.) similarly to sugar — moderation is the key.

Not only does the carbohydrate-rich food actually become sugar in the body for fuel upon digestion, but gluten has also been linked to dozens of mild health issues like inflammation, skin irritations, microbiome deterioration in the gut, and yeast infections. So, while grain-based foods are delicious and comforting to all, a lot of positive health benefits can stem from their elimination from daily dieting.

And of course, for some shoppers, gluten-free isn’t just a trendy option, but rather a nutritional necessity. British food blogger Sarah Howells has coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition which causes the body’s immune system to “attack” the lining of the small intestine when the protein is present. She says her diet often requires pricey alternatives that would “shock” some eaters.

“Buying this type of food has always come at an extra cost and, to a point, I do understand why,” she says. “The ingredients used are less popular and therefore more expensive, and certified gluten-free food has to be produced without any risk of cross contamination, with various checks and audits along the way. 

It’s amazing how many decadent recipes in life don’t actually require gluten

“That being said, if you start a gluten-free diet by trying to just replace everything you used to eat with a gluten-free version, you’re going to get a shock at the checkout. In the UK, GF bread is 644% more expensive than the ‘normal’ bread. It’s madness.”

So what’s the best course of action if you’re trying to eliminate (or just reduce) gluten from your diet? Instead of becoming a slave to specialized bread formulas, opt for the carbs that naturally come gluten-free, like rice or potatoes. Meal prep with these options, combined with fresh vegetables and locally sourced meats, always comes out cheaper than a shortcut like gluten-free pasta.

“There are so many naturally gluten-free foods and ways to eat gluten-free on a budget and this should be available to people upon diagnosis rather than just directing them to expensive free from replacements,” she says.

“I try to share recipes for easy gluten-free bakes and budget meals which use a lot of naturally gluten-free foods to keep costs down, and I also believe baking your own bread and cakes is so much cheaper and way nicer,” Sarah adds. “But without the education around this, many are left struggling and simply settling for paying extortionate ‘gluten-free’ prices when there are other ways to cut costs. Until the prices come down, we need to get more savvy in how we shop.”

Curious to see a recipe that almost always uses white flour, but can actually be made gluten-free fairly easily? Check out Sarah’s Lemon Meringue Cupcakes recipe HERE!

What do you think?

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