Living with a food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance is never easy, especially when trying to navigate grocery stores or restaurant menus.
The following lists are designed to help you find gluten-free (GF), dairy-free (DF), and/or Paleo (P) options locally in Sitka, Alaska. Click here or scroll down for more information on GF, DF, and P eating styles.
I will try to update these as often as I can. Please let me know if you find a new product or menu item I missed! Please also feel free to contact me if there's a GF, DF, or P product you love that you can't find locally.
What is gluten?
Gluten (or the gliadin protein) is a binding protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten helps food maintain its shape, acting like a glue that holds food together. Gluten is added to a wide variety of products – some not so obvious – so make sure to read food labels thoroughly!
Gluten intolerances range from Celiac Disease (autoimmune) to allergies to mild sensitivities. Some people may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten or food that has come into contact with gluten, while others must avoid any cross-contamination completely.
There is also evidence suggesting that all people with an autoimmune or inflammatory condition (and maybe the majority of us) should avoid gluten. Here’s an article if you’d like to learn more.
Why are some people sensitive to dairy?
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to break down the natural sugar lactose found in dairy products.
It is uncommon to be born with a lactose intolerance, but it can happen. More commonly, our bodies quit producing the lactase enzyme after we wean as an infant. This is thought to be due to evolution – it was uncommon for some of our ancestors to consume dairy after infancy so the body did not see the need to continue producing an unused enzyme.
As with gluten, the severity of intolerance varies, from allergies to mild sensitivities. Some people can consume small amounts of dairy without any problem. Others can eat certain types of dairy with no problem (such as hard cheeses) but find others to be problematic (ice cream). In the case of allergies or severe lactose intolerance, dairy must be completely avoided.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo (or Paleolithic) Diet is an eating style that seeks to eliminate processed foods and foods of industrialization, and focuses more on things that could be hunted and gathered by cavemen: meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. Single ingredient foods, if you will. Some also include raw honey, pure maple syrup, 100% cocoa or cacao, coffee, alcohol… etc. You may have heard of the Whole30 Diet - this is like Paleo on steroids and is a strict 30 days of Paleo.
Obviously, the majority of us are not growing, hunting, and gathering the bulk of our food. Critics of the Paleo diet often comment that those who follow the diet are clearly not hunter-gatherers and what we think of today as the Paleo diet looks nothing like what caveman ate. My response to this is that I like to think of Paleo as the purest way to eat while taking into account modern luxuries and what’s going to make us happy in this all-too-stressful world: grocery stores, the internet, and food traveling to us instead of us traveling to food. The Paleo diet can look different for each person (I follow Paleo about 80% of the time. My Paleo also includes wine, chocolate, and goat cheese #FOODFREEDOM).
I like the Paleo diet because, again, it eliminates processed foods, refined sugars, and most of the major food intolerances: gluten, dairy, grains, soy, and ingredients we can’t pronounce (do you know what butylated hydroxytoluene is?). In my practice, I have also found that moving towards a Paleo style of eating reduces inflammation and pain; supports weight loss; helps with sleep, fatigue, and brain fog; reduces the symptoms of many health conditions including autoimmune disorders, Type 2 Diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Now, I’ll step off of my Paleo Soapbox and let you dive into these amazing resources that I am so excited to have for you!