Top Ten Tips for Living a Gluten Free Life
Just a decade ago, a supermarket search for products labeled as gluten-free would be fruitless. Thankfully things have changed, and the gluten allergy is recognized as a problem that needs to be taken seriously around the world. You may have a gluten allergy, intolerance, or you may alternatively have been diagnosed with celiac disease.
Cutting gluten out of your diet completely may seem impossible. No more cereal for breakfast, no biscuits with a cup of coffee. In fact, the first few weeks can seem like a real challenge. But, after a few months, not only will you notice the health benefits, you will also realize that going gluten-free can be pretty easy.
If you have celiac disease or an allergy to gluten
You might feel depressed, bloated, and suffer from memory fog. You may also have a nasty rash and other health complaints such as swollen ankles. The good news is that as soon as you take gluten out of your diet, you will start to feel a lot better. Although skin complaints may take a while to heal, you will start to feel and look better in just a few days. So to make your transition easier, follow the tips below and remember that once you cut gluten out of your diet, you should stick to it for life.
Starting your Gluten Free Life
Being diagnosed with a gluten allergy is not the end of the world. If you have a celiac disease diagnosis, then remember that this is a life-long autoimmune disease that cannot be reversed. Your immune system reacts badly to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. The only effective treatment is to cut gluten out of your diet completely.
This might seem daunting at first, even impossible. However, remember that cutting out wheat cereals, bread, and pasta is actually a really good health move. It is easy to adapt to a gluten-free diet. Having some gluten-free snacks on hand at all times is very important. This way, when you want a snack, you won’t feel the urge to start eating forbidden foods. Mistakes can be made, as gluten is hiding in places you probably wouldn’t expect. Once you make the change to a diet without gluten, it is extremely important to stick to it. Reverting back to gluten ingredients will reverse all your hard work.
If you are not used to reading food labels, now is the time to start. Perhaps you check out the calories in your favorite snack? If so, start reading the small print. Bring your reading glasses when you do your shopping so you can read the fine print on food labels. Also, allow more time than before. You will find yourself trying to pick up items that are not allowed, so this will take some time to get used to.
The good news is that in the US, South American, UK, and across the EU:
Most foods must now show allergy information
This means that if products are free from gluten, it will say so on the product label and/or packaging. If there is gluten content in food, it will be marked in bold on the packet. Some products are made alongside others in a factory that handles gluten. This is clearly stated on most labels. Depending on the severity of your allergy, you may also need to avoid these products.
There are many foods that you know you will not be able to eat like wheat bread, pasta, and cereals. But there are also other foods with hidden gluten sources, including soy sauce and beer. This is why you should take time to read all the labels and ensure the items in your shopping cart are free from gluten.
Over the last few years, shopping for a gluten-free diet has become a lot easier. Find whole aisles in the supermarket that are dedicated to allergies, and look for substitutes for pasta and flour. These products do tend to be a lot more expensive, but they are healthier to eat. Cutting out on processed food is a healthy option, so don’t fill your shopping basket with cookies and pasta made from other cereals and substitute materials. For the first few weeks it is common to really miss your favorite snacks, so try just buying one packet of gluten-free (GF) cookies as a treat.
Health stores also stock a lot of gluten alternatives
Although these will be pricier than what you are used to, you will get more personalized service than when you go it alone in a large supermarket. If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, you will find that you have access to help and advice from your local health care provider. In the UK you will have access to staple foods on your medical prescription. You can also find tons of useful resources and feedback online with sites like www.mywheyproteins.com and other similar sites. Once you read through a few, bookmark your favorites. Also be sure to share your own feedback and comments on GF articles. We can all make our gluten-free journeys easier if we collaborate and share helpful tips and recipes.
Natural Allergy-Friendly Foods
Cutting out gluten from your diet can be less difficult with a lot of planning and homework. It really just means changing what you eat. There are plenty of foods that are naturally gluten-free. These include all fresh meat, poultry, fruit, and vegetables. Rice is also gluten-free, and depending on your allergy you may be able to still eat oats. Corn and millet also contain no gluten, and these provide great alternatives for baking, as well as ingredients for your favorite recipes. When you buy cereals that don’t contain gluten, make sure that cross-contamination is not a problem. A factory that processes foods with gluten is always a risk, however small.
As well as learning about all the food you can eat and those that you need to avoid, you will also have to cut back on some of your favorite drinks. Beer contains gluten as do a lot of spirits. Cider, wine, and sherry contain no gluten. So it’s not the end of the world. Think of how in shape you will feel when you stop drinking can after can of beer. If you visit bars, ask about the content of the drinks, and you will be provided with all the information you require.
Depending on the area where you live, you will find a lot of restaurants will cater to your allergy needs. Allergy advice needs to be on all menus in the EU and UK. If you live in a big town, you may even be lucky enough to have a gluten-free restaurant nearby. Be sure to search online and check for the nearest restaurants with gluten-free options.
Sauces and Cross-Contamination
We mentioned cross-contamination before, but you also need to be careful about sauces. When eating out, ask what the chef includes in the sauces. One sauce you will have to cut out of your diet is regular soy sauce. But you can find brands that are allergy-friendly for most of your favorite sauces. Moreover, if you prepare meals with gluten for your family, make sure you don’t allow for cross-contamination. This means cooking your food separately and wiping down surfaces often. Get in the habit of cooking with separate utensils and pans/containers. if you have the space in your kitchen, set up separate areas for preparing gluten foods and gluten-free meals.
Having to adhere to a gluten-free diet will give you a perfect excuse to get cooking and spend more time in the kitchen. When you cook your own meals from scratch, you will know what you are making. There are so many healthy foods that you wouldn’t have tried before your diagnosis, but now you will be open to trying more ingredients. Family dinners can be healthier and more fun. Although your family can eat their own treats and snacks that contain gluten, it’s a good idea to all eat the same at meal times.
You can download recipes for gluten-free eating as well as buying cooking books for allergy diets. Remember that all your efforts will be rewarded when you start to feel healthier and the mind fog starts to clear.
Please remember to share your feedback and learnings from your own personal GF journey.