Going gluten-free is a big decision. If you have a gluten allergy, it’s a no-brainer. But if you’re considering a gluten-free diet for other reasons, there’s a lot to take into account.
What foods do you need to avoid? Will eating out gluten-free be an issue? How will going gluten-free affect your health?
There are many reasons why you might choose to eat a gluten-free diet, but it may feel overwhelming and intimidating when you first begin this life change. But don’t worry – this article is here to help!
Is Gluten Bad for You? Here’s What You Need to Know About Eating Gluten-Free
I am not a doctor, but based on my own experience, extensive research and trips to medical specialists, these are some of my best tips for switching to a completely gluten-free diet along with some extra bonus tips for eating out (or ordering in) gluten-free as well.
Here Are 5 Tips for Going Gluten-Free:
1. Seek Medical Advice
Transitioning to a gluten-free diet is not easy. Before you even begin down this path, it is really important to seek help from a nutritionist, doctor, or naturopath.
It’s important to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients necessary, and medical advice is key in doing so.
2. Begin With a Detox
There may be other foods that you are sensitive to in addition to gluten, which could make the process more complicated. I recommend beginning the process with a detox.
In this context, a detox means removing all gluten, dairy, and added sugar from your diet for about four to six weeks.
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This is because gluten, dairy, and sugar are all highly inflammatory foods. If you’re trying to determine what exactly is causing your digestive issues, it will be really hard if you’re still consuming foods that are inflammatory.
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After the four- to six-week detox, begin to re-introduce foods one at a time and wait four to seven days before introducing another food.
It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to four days for your body to show symptoms of food sensitivity so it is really important to re-introduce foods one at a time.
3. Read Food Labels Every Time You Shop
To be certain that you are eating foods without gluten, you need to read the label on every single item you buy, every single time you buy it. There is a chance for ingredients to change slightly in pre-packaged products.
I personally have seen the ingredients change in products that I purchase from week to week. Manufacturers may have trouble getting one ingredient, so they switch to a viable replacement to keep up production.
The new ingredient may contain gluten, so it is really important to read labels every time you shop.
4. Watch Out for Added Sugar
Luckily, there is a huge variety of gluten-free prepackaged foods. You can get crackers, cookies, pasta, bread, wraps, cereals, and more all without gluten. However, many of these foods are very high in added sugar.
Manufacturers are literally turning to sugar to make gluten-free things taste good. Sugar isn’t all bad. I only point this out because it was a surprise to me just how much sugar was added to some items.
Also, if you are in the midst of the detox process and are eliminating sugar, you will want to pay close attention to the labels of these foods.
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5. Avoid Cross-Contamination
Depending upon your level of sensitivity to gluten, you will need to be wary of cross-contamination. Some people, especially those with celiac disease, cannot tolerate even the tiniest amount of gluten in their system.
Here are a few tips for avoiding cross-contamination in your kitchen:
- Have a toaster to use only for products without gluten
- Use stainless steel cookware (non-stick items absorb gluten)
- Purchase new bakeware or use parchment paper
- Buy new dishwashing supplies so you don’t use anything that has touched gluten
- Purchase a non-porous cutting board and only use it for gluten-free food prep
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Here Are 3 Bonus Tips for Eating Out Gluten-Free:
Luckily, eating food sans gluten has become much more common. Many restaurant menus notate their gluten-free items which makes eating out less stressful.
1. Plan Ahead and Ask Questions
One of the big keys to eating out gluten-free is to plan ahead. If you know where you are going, be sure to check their menu online or call the restaurant and ask if they have options for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask them about their handling processes either. This is especially important if you are traveling.
I tend to plan where I’m going to eat while I’m out of town and review all their menus before I even leave home. This allows me to bring along extra snacks or supplies if needed.
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2. Check Menus
Even if the restaurant you’re going to doesn’t have a specific gluten-free menu, it is still possible you can eat there.
However, if you have celiac disease, make sure that the restaurant is capable of safely providing you a meal without cross-contamination.
Here are a few key things to look for on the menu:
- Soups and stews prepared without flour used as a thickener
- Steamed, stir-fried, or roasted vegetables
- Gluten-free grains
- Grilled, roasted, or smoked meats or seafood made with gluten-free sauce or seasoning
- Sandwiches or burgers with a non-gluten bun or no bun at all (but be sure to ask if the burgers are made with breadcrumbs)
- Salads with grilled meat, no croutons, and gluten-free dressing
3. Choose Your Cuisine
When it comes to ethnic foods, there are some that are inherently safer than others.
Mexican food, for example, is safer than most as long as you choose corn tortillas over flour. Indian food also offers a variety of options that are naturally made without gluten. Just make sure you skip the naan bread.
Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines tend to have grilled meat or fish with salad and/or rice.
Asian cuisines can be safe if you choose a plain rice or rice noodle dish. Be sure that your meal doesn’t contain soy sauce, any other sauces with gluten, or that the restaurant offers gluten-free soy sauce.
Related : 5 Quick and Healthy Plant-Based Dinner Recipes to Try This Week
Going Gluten-Free and Eating Out Gluten-Free: The Takeaway
While going gluten-free may feel like an enormous lifestyle change, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. You can still live your normal life, go out with friends, and even enjoy eating out gluten-free.
Going gluten-free is a big step but if you take into consideration these tips, hopefully it will feel a bit less scary when you make the leap.
What are your favorite tips on going gluten-free or eating out gluten-free? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.
All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.
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