Going Gluten Free

In the past it was rare to hear about gluten free diets in Hong Kong. In recent years, however, this has starting to change as people become more aware of how consuming gluten can affect their health. Gluten is the elastic component of grains that allows bread dough to rise and makes pasta "rubbery". For some individuals, consuming gluten can cause a mild to severe allergic reaction with symptoms including head ache, bloating, stomach ache and diarreah. 

There are several theories as to why gluten has such a negative effect. One theory is that people develop an allergy to gluten due to their over consumption of bread and other gluten containing products over long periods of time. Another theory is that humans do not tolerate gluten well because the introduction of agricultural products has been too recent in our evolution for our bodies to be able to process it. The evolution theory suggests that in a few thousands years, our stomachs will be able to properly process gluten. While this might be true, it sure isn't much help for us right now! 

One of the hardest things about following a gluten free diet in the past has been finding a full range of products to eat. When I became gluten free it meant no bread, no pasta, no pizza, no cake, no beer. It really seemed like there was a conspiracy to keep me from eating everything I loved! Now it is much better, as there are a full range of products in the market and even a few stores in Hong Kong that specialize in gluten free products. One of my favourite products that I have found is Daas, a premium quality, gluten free Belgium beer. For anyone that has ever had gluten free beer you will know that they are usually a poor imitation of "real" beer and lack the richness and flavour a beer drinker craves. Daas is a next generation gluten free beer that uses a special technology to deglutenize the wheat used to produce their beer.  Daas has succesfully produced beers identical in quality and taste to gluten containing lagers and ales. For a person that is gluten free there is nothing quite as good as being able to enjoy a burger and a cold beer!

Another product I love is Dove Farms gluten free white flour. By making a dough with their flour mix, I can make bread, buns and even pizza bases that are fresh, gluten free and delicious. While it is still a challenge to eat out gluten free in Hong Kong, there are now a few hotels, private clubs and restaurants serving a selection of gluten free dishes on their menus. More options will surely appear as the demand for gluten free products grows in Hong Kong. 

After eliminating gluten from my own diet, the stomach problems that I had had for years were resolved in just a few days. I have now been happily gluten free for 15 years. So if you suspect that you may have issues with gluten, I encourage you to learn about it through books or online, and if it's right for you can join the gluten free community in Hong Kong!