It all be­gan when par­ents Wendy and Se­bas­tian Chia dis­cov­ered that their el­dest son Ryan has di­etary in­tol­er­ances to dairy, gluten, nuts, soy, eggs and yeast. Man­ag­ing Ryan’s di­etary al­ler­gies led them to source di­rectly for or­ganic meat and gluten-free pro­duce lo­cally and abroad.

Their fre­quent trips to farmer’s mar­kets in Western Aus­tralia sub­se­quently re­sulted in close ties with sev­eral small batch spe­cial­ist pro­duc­ers. “We even met the pro­duc­ers and shared with them the dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting or­ganic meats in Singapore,” shared Wendy. The idea to im­port meat was thus mooted. In July 2015, Ryan’s Gro­cery, a lo­cal or­ganic butch­ery and gluten-free store in Bin­jai Park, was born.

As re­cent as eight years ago, it wasn’t easy to find quinoa, non­wheat or rice flour. We de­cided to go gluten-free af­ter we saw how elim­i­nat­ing dairy helped our son’s be­havioural is­sues as a spe­cial needs child. Back then, there weren’t many peo­ple post­ing recipes and in­for­ma­tion on­line, so our trips to Aus­tralia were re­ally use­ful in learn­ing about go­ing gluten-free.

Some peo­ple think that go­ing gluten­free means do­ing away with breads, but gluten can also be found in com­mon prod­ucts like soy sauce, and in thick­en­ing agents used in ice cream and ketchup.

Celiac dis­ease is a real health prob­lem. At restau­rants, you might hear peo­ple say­ing, “a bit of gluten is fine,” but for peo­ple with celiac dis­ease, this could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death. For some, a gluten-free diet im­proves the qual­ity of life by elim­i­nat­ing al­ler­gic re­ac­tions.

Don’t stop eat­ing foods with gluten, es­pe­cially when you are go­ing for a blood test. The re­sults will not be ac­cu­rate.

Di­ar­rhea, bloated tum­mies, eczema and migraines are some of the most com­mon re­ac­tions to gluten al­lergy.

Some­times peo­ple mis­take these symp­toms for stress. A friend who had migraines fi­nally went for a med­i­cal check up, elim­i­nated gluten from her diet, and her migraines dis­ap­peared. Many peo­ple can­not break down gluten, but they are

Go­ing gluten-free does not mean com­pro­mis­ing on flavour. Here are four de­li­cious recipes that are great for those with celiac dis­ease or gluten sen­si­tiv­i­ties, and suit­able for ev­ery­day healthy eat­ing too

un­aware of this un­til they go for tests.

Gluten-free doesn’t mean go­ing taste-free. Our choices are health­ier since we are eat­ing more fruit, veg­eta­bles, lean meats and dairy, but this doesn’t mean less op­tions. For in­stance, Ryan is in­tol­er­ant to soy sauce so I use co­conut amino acid as a sub­sti­tute. You won’t even be able to tell the dif­fer­ence!

It’s dif­fi­cult to go gluten-free in Singapore, since there aren’t many choices at hawker cen­tres. Even restau­rants of­fer mostly sal­ads when we ask for gluten-free menus. Sound bets are Open Door Pol­icy, The Liv­ing Café and Sum­mer Palace.

If a doc­tor di­ag­noses you with celiac dis­ease, omit cross con­tam­i­na­tion at home by hav­ing dif­fer­ent sets of uten­sils, wash­ing sponges and fridge com­part­ments too.

You can still go gluten-free while trav­el­ling. Ryan’s Gro­cery has ready meals like the Hart & Soul series of soups. I also have in my lug­gage broth packs, var­i­ous grains like quinoa, frozen sausages and meats from Ryan’s that I can quickly com­bine in a mini cooker for my son.

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