More and more people are on a gluten-free diet these days. Whether you have Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, an allergy, autism, or an anti-inflammatory disease, your situation is the same. You need to figure out how to tackle this crazy world of gluten-free living.
Our society is so gluten-filled that it can often be overwhelming to think about not eating gluten for the rest of your life. We are told to eat our multi-grain cereal for breakfast, our sandwich on wheat bread for lunch and fancy high-fiber grains with our dinner. But what do you do if you can’t eat any of these things anymore?
To be on a gluten-free diet, you need to remove wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats from your food sources. Gluten is found in the majority of our processed food items and can be found in some very sneaky places that you would not suspect, such as shredded cheese and artificial bacon bits.
Here are 10 tips to follow when starting a gluten-free diet.
- Get a comprehensive list of where gluten can be found. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America has an excellent bulletin about gluten free foods.
- Learn how to read food labels. In the United States, food companies are now required to list if wheat is included in the ingredients. Many products say “gluten free” on the packaging as a marketing concept; however it is important that you learn what is actually in your food and become a gluten “detective.”
- Eat “real” food for a while. Most of the food we eat today is not even food. The majority of what we stick in our mouths is processed. Try eating fruits and vegetables, meat, and gluten free whole grains such as wild rice or quinoa. You will feel better and not have to worry whether you are ingesting gluten. These foods are naturally gluten free.
- Make a list of the foods you really love and look online or in a gluten-free cookbook for a gluten-free replacement recipe. There are many websites with wonderful recipes and cooking tips.
- Join a local support group or an on line community. Both The Celiac Sprue Association and The Gluten Intolerance Group have local groups that provide support in many communities. Also, many Whole Foods Markets offer monthly gluten free gatherings.
- 6. Find a local cooking school or instructor to help you learn how to make your favorite recipes. There are also weekend seminars to help you learn how to cook gluten free foods, such as The Gluten Free Cooking Expo or The Gluten Intolerance Group Conference.
- Meet with a nutritionist that really understands the gluten-free diet. Your nutritionist can be of tremendous help in making sure you are getting enough fiber and nutrients on your new diet. The key is to find a nutritionist that truly understands the gluten free diet. Many do not, so do your research before your appointment.
- Find a blog you like and become a member of the online gluten-free community. There is a lot of support online for those on a gluten free diet.
- Locate a few restaurants in your area that can provide you with safe gluten-free food. There are times when you don’t feel like cooking, and it is really great to know you can eat out safely.
- Find a friend to support you on your gluten-free journey. Any journey is easier if you are not alone!
Author Information: Jen Cafferty, Chicago, IL
Jen Cafferty, Founder, The Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo