It’s one of the most buzzed about diets today – the gluten free diet. Some people voluntarily choose to go gluten free while others are forced to as a medical necessity due to Celiac Disease, allergies, or gluten sensitivity. Whatever the reasoning, starting a gluten free diet can seem overwhelming! But with the rapid growth in the gluten free industry, there are a lot of foods you can eat without feeling so deprived. If you’re going gluten free, here’s some tips on how to eat a gluten free diet that will make the transition a little easier.
1. Understand Why You’re Starting a Gluten Free Diet:
Going gluten free because of a mild sensitivity or by preference is very different than requiring a gluten free diet due to Celiac Disease. If you’re required to start a gluten free diet because you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac’s, you will need to be much more cautious with the foods you choose and ensure you’re avoiding all risks of cross-contamination. Check out our other article about Celiac Disease here to understand more about this condition.
If you’re choosing a gluten free diet because you believe it’s healthier, consider talking to a health care professional for guidance to make sure you’re still getting all the nutrients you need, and that you are selecting healthy options.
2. Read Food Labels - Thoroughly:
Get used to playing food detective when grocery shopping, as gluten hides in a lot of places you might not expect. While you can look for “gluten free” on the front and back of food packaging, you should always read the ingredients label to be sure. This is especially true for people with Celiac Disease since cross contamination can occur. You’ll want to watch out for gluten containing ingredients such as wheat, barley, malt, rye, bran, semolina, and durum, just to name a few. The gluten free certification label can help you easily identify gluten free processed foods, as these products and facilities must pass thorough inspections annually. For more details on how to identify gluten check out our other post here!
3. “If In Doubt, Go Without”:
If you are unable to verify if the ingredients in the food in question are gluten free, don’t eat it. Regardless of the amount eaten, if you have Celiac Disease, damage to the small intestine occurs every time gluten is consumed, whether symptoms are present or not. Better safe than sorry!
4. Wheat-Free is NOT Gluten Free:
Just because a product is labeled as “wheat-free” does not necessarily mean it’s gluten free. It could still contain rye, barley, malt, or other types of ingredients listed in the previous tip that are not gluten free. So always read the ingredients when going gluten free!
5. Enjoy Naturally Gluten Free Foods:
Fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and eggs are all naturally gluten free which are great to use as a basis for your meals. There are also naturally gluten free grains such as quinoa, rice (all types), corn, amaranth, corn, and buckwheat among others. Oats are naturally gluten free but are often contaminated with gluten, so be sure they are certified gluten free oats when purchasing.
6. Be Careful at Restaurants
A gluten free diet has become a very popular choice for many, which means many restaurants offer gluten free options to accommodate them. But be careful; many times these “gluten friendly” options aren’t actually safe if you have a severe allergy, due to cross contamination. For instance, gluten free pasta is sometimes cooked in the same water as regular pasta, and gluten free pizza crusts can be prepared on the same surface as regular pizza crust. Deep fryers also pose a high risk for cross contamination, so you should ask if they use a separate fryer for their gluten free options. Most restaurants understand food allergies and will explain if they have separate surfaces and utensils, but don’t be afraid to ask and make sure!
7. Find Gluten Free Alternatives:
It’s hard to give up the foods you love, when going gluten free. But luckily there are so many gluten free alternatives in the marketplace today that you don’t have to feel deprived on a gluten free diet! From baking mixes and flours, to cookies and pastas, there are gluten free alternatives for nearly everything. Just make sure to read the ingredients label carefully to see if it’s truly gluten free.
Learning how to eat a gluten free diet takes patience and dedication. But if you suffer from Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, it is completely worth it. With this list of helpful tips and abundance of gluten free options in the marketplace, going gluten free isn’t as overwhelming as it once was, and can be such a positive change for your lifestyle!