Gluten, one of the proteins found in barley, wheat and rye, is known to be harmful for those with celiac disease. Even if you do not feel particularly sick after eating gluten packed foods, you can still risk damaging your body in a lot of ways.
Initially, you may find it hard to avoid food items contaminated with gluten, especially your favourite ones. However, once you identify these food items and familiarise yourself with their alternatives, it gets rather easy to avoid them.
Switching to a gluten free is a big change, and you need to acquaint yourself with one step at a time. Below you will find a short guide for helping you make the transition easier, all the while enjoying your favourite meals:
Table of Contents
- 1. Identify gluten free foods that you already have at home
- 2. Recognise which packaged foods at home are gluten free
- 3. Jot down a menu for the entire week, consisting of all naturally gluten-free items
- 4. Create a shopping list
- 5. Check food labels cautiously before purchasing
- 6. Prevent cross contact
- 7. Don’t restrict your meals to home only, you can eat out with ease
- 8. Eat a balanced a well-rounded diet
1. Identify gluten free foods that you already have at home
A number of food items are naturally free from gluten, which you can consume in as much as you want. Before making any expensive purchases at the store for gluten-free cereals and breads, find the following in your kitchen:
• Fresh eggs
• Fresh fruit
• Fresh chicken, pork, beef, turkey, seafood including fish
• Fresh milk
• Rice (brown as well as white)
• Herbs and spices without additives
Even if you don’t have the above at home already, take the list along when you go grocery shopping next.
2. Recognise which packaged foods at home are gluten free
It would be helpful if you could take out all the packaged foods you have at home including those in your refrigerator and inventory. Packaged foods include basically everything you use while cooking that has a label on it. Certain items have gluten hidden somewhere in the ingredients, which is why you need to check very thoroughly. Some of the typical sources of gluten in packaged foods include:
• Blue cheese
• Baked beans
• Aritificial colour
• Communion wafers
• Herbal tea
• Ice cream
• Dessert frosting/icing
• Processed meat
• Salad dressings
• Soy sauce
• Dry roasted nuts
If you find gluten in any of the packaged foods, don’t eat it. Either discard it or put it a separate cabinet in kitchen so others at home could continue using them.
If you cannot plan a menu yourself, try these:
o Yogurt with fresh fruit
o Cottage cheese with fresh fruit
o Rice cereal with nuts and fresh fruit
o Scrambled eggs and bacon
o Vegetable and cheese omelette with potatoes
o String cheese
o Rice cakes with cream cheese
o Plain corn chips, salsa and cheese
o Plain popcorn (with only salt and oil)
o Celery sticks with peanut butter
o Fresh fruit with yoghurt
o Grilled fish, steamed vegetables and baked potato
o Grilled meat, steamed vegetables and baked potato
o Stir fried meat, vegetables and corn tortillas
o Wheat-free tamari, stir fried poultry, vegetables and rice
o Cheese, baked potato and steamed vegetabless
o Cheese and bean burritos (corn tortillas)
By the time your first week of gluten-free diet is over, you would have familiarised yourself with basic food items. You will then be able to create your own unique menus.
4. Create a shopping list
After you have laid out the next week’s menu, its time to create a shopping list of gluten-free foods you need to buy. Your shopping list could contain:
• Vegetables: Tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, celery, carrots and cabbage
• Fruit: Oranges, grapes, bananas and apples
• Dairy: yoghurt, milk, cream cheese, butter, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream
• Meats: pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shrimp
• Canned foods: dried beans, green beans, pears, peaches
• Grains (gluten free): buckwheat, millet, bean flour, sorghum, potato flour, soy, tapioca and rice
• Drinks: coffee, tea and juices (all without gluten-additives)
5. Check food labels cautiously before purchasing
Sometimes, brands change ingredients of same old products. To ensure you don’t consume anything with gluten in it, check the ingredients list every time and make sure no hidden gluten is present.
6. Prevent cross contact
If you are the only gluten-allergic person at home and you have to buy and cook for others at home too, it is important that you don’t let yours and theirs ingredients come in contact. Colour coding the utensils and labeling food items is not just good kitchen organisation in the case of a gluten-allergic person, it is something absolutely necessary. Also:
• Purchase two bottles of peanut butter, mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheese and even jam. Use noticeable labels on each container or bottle to differentiate easily between either of them.
• Cross contact is not restricted only to bottles and jars. You also have to make sure you don’t use the same knife or same fork, which as been used with a regular food item.
• You must also purchase a separate toaster for your special gluten-free bread. If that seems like a hassle to you, you may try reusable toaster bags instead.
• Get another colander for straining your gluten free pasta. Residual gluten is hard to get rid of from colanders, which is why its much simpler if you just use another strainer.
7. Don’t restrict your meals to home only, you can eat out with ease
You will find it very challenging to adapt a gluten-free diet if you make a huge deal out of it. You do not have to consider your problem a hindrance towards your social activities and dining out routines. You can eat at any restaurants while making sure what you order doesn’t contain any shady ingredient. A number of restaurants specifically label certain dishes as gluten free for making it convenient for allergic customers.
• Before you leave home for a restaurant, do some homework. A number of restaurants post their entire menus on their websites. You can pick out the dishes that seem to contain all gluten-free elements only.
• Avoid pizzerias and bakery-cafes where there could be a higher chance of gluten-contaminated flour coming in contact with other food items.
• If the server doesn’t seem to understand what gluton is, simply let him/her know that you are allergic to wheat, barley and gluten. Make sure the server passes on the message to the chef. If the chef doesn’t understand your allergy very well either, you can ask him/her questions like:
- Did you dust the chicken with flour before frying it?
- Did you use what flour for preparing the gravy or thickening the soup?
- Did you marinate the meat in soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce?
- When travelling, take along some gluten-free food items such as rice cakes, apples and nuts.
8. Eat a balanced a well-rounded diet
Make sure your fruit and vegetable intake is extraordinarily high. Most gluten-free pastas, breads and cereals available in stores do not contain the maximum amount of nutrients and fiber. Mineral and multivitamin supplements may also be required if your fruit and vegetable intake is rather low. Also, don’t forget to enjoy your meals!