How to Go Gluten Free
We’re going to explore some basics tips for getting started on your gluten-free lifestyle.
Know What Gluten Is
Gluten is a type of protein in wheat, rye and barley. It is the protein that gives bread its bread like texture. Oats and oat bran are naturally gluten free, however, they are often cross contaminated with gluten and can cause trouble for many who are gluten intolerant. Clear all Wheat, Oats, Barley, Rye and Spelt out of your diet for at least 3 weeks. One of 2 things usually happens; 1 – you’ll feel so much better that you’ll never want to eat it again, or 2 – you maybe feel a little difference, and try some gluten and experience a major reaction with the exposure.
Beware of Hidden Gluten
Many people know that going gluten free means giving up glutenous bread but somethings like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, taco seasoning, some blue cheeses, miso, beer and even things like basting glazes in restaurants contain gluten. Read labels and ask questions.
Stick to Whole Foods
When shopping for the first time, stick to whole foods in their natural state like fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and seafood, beans, dairy (if you tolerate it) and gluten free grains like quinoa, rice, millet, corn, buckwheat and amaranth.
Clearly Marked Processed Foods
When you first go gluten free, it can be comforting to stock up on some of your previous glutenous foods in gluten free form like bread, cakes, cookies, etc. This is a very normal part of the process but it is also important in the beginning to only buy the ones that are clearly marked. Dont be deceived by things marked wheat free because wheat free and gluten free are not one in the same. A very common ingredient in wheat free products is barley malt syrup which contains gluten.
All Or Nothing
If you are truly intolerant to gluten or celiac, it is important to be 100% gluten free at least in the beginning. This means it may be important to only eat food you have personally prepared for the first couple of weeks. Hidden gluten is in a lot of things and the only way to find out if gluten is the cause of your health concerns, it is important that you cut it completely, 100% out. For some, they learn that they can tolerate small amounts like what might be found in standard grocery store oats and for others, even a microscopic amount creates major distress in their body where they end up in bed for a week.
Clean Out or at least Re-organize your pantry
It can be helpful when you are first starting out to either get rid of or at least re-organize your pantry in a way that you will know where the gluten containing foods are. Perhaps you maintain a gluten foods cabinet in your house if you are the only one that needs to be gluten free.
Watch Out in Restaurants or with Well-Meaning Friends and Family Cross contamination is a big issue for those that are extremely sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease. This is a big concern in both restaurants as well as in the homes of well-meaning friends and family. Thankfully, more restaurants are starting to train their staff to know more about it but the same is not necessarily true everywhere you go. Another common mistake gluten-eating people make is thinking that white flour is OK since it isnt whole wheat and that, sad as it may be, is just not true. So, be aware that these things do happen.
Take Advantage of Technology
If you are unsure about something, look it up on the web. There are a vast amount of forums with people who have been gluten free and, in my opionion, those are the best people to listen to because they will not only share their knowledge but that knowledge is based on experience. You can also find gluten free apps on your smart phone that will help you navigate the grocery store or find near by restaurants for you.
Nothing is worse than being hungry and feeling like there is nothing to eat. This can lead to eating foods that arent safe to eat or in some cases, even binging. Before you decide to go gluten free, go ahead and start researching what you plan to eat for your trial period. Some of my go to favorites are fruit, mixed nuts and gluten-free bars.
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