There are lots of potential health and weight-loss benefits to following a gluten-free diet. The downside, however, is that it may be difficult for the average person to plan nutritionally balanced GF meals. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor and confirm that this is part of an appropriate treatment plan and wise to consult a nutritionist before getting started.
You may find that replacing your favorite foods with gluten-free alternatives a bit challenging, so we’ve got tips for navigating the supermarket and for sourcing the right prepared foods. Once you’ve got the shopping done, it’s time to put those ingredients to use with recipes that’ll make you forget all about this problem-causing protein!
It’s not always convenient to stop and Google an unfamiliar ingredient, so we found a useful mnemonic. Food 52, via LifeHacker’s Melanie Pinola, covers the basics with an acronym you’d expect to find in a makeup tutorial:
O at (if it’s not labeled gluten-free)
W heat (includes Kamut, khorasan, einkorn, and farro)
S pelt (which is a species of wheat)
The Mayo Clinic cautions that gluten is also “found … in a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.” Click here for a more comprehensive list of gluten sources.
Among the many hidden sources of gluten are malt; soups (such as those made from a cream or roux base, and those containing noodles) beer, and Brewer’s yeast. Click here to view a handy chart and visit the Further Reading links at the bottom of the page.
You should also be aware that some processed foods can become cross-contaminated with gluten products during production. (Be careful when preparing food at home.) Check the label or know your source!
Why choose to follow a gluten-free diet?
Mayo says that the diet is a treatment for people diagnosed with celiac disease. In addition, “Some people who don’t have celiac disease also may have symptoms when they eat gluten, however. This is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may benefit from a gluten-free diet. But people with celiac disease must be gluten-free to prevent symptoms and disease-related complications.”
Like those who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, people diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) may experience “abdominal … cramping, bloating, gas and diarrhea.”
According to Medical News Today, “The most common symptoms of celiac disease are digestive discomfort, tissue damage in the small intestines, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache, tiredness, skin rashes, depression, weight loss and foul-smelling feces. However, some people with celiac disease do not have digestive symptoms, but may have other symptoms like tiredness or anemia. For this reason, celiac disease can be very difficult to diagnose. In fact, up to 80% of people with celiac disease don’t know that they have it.”
Try cooking with oats, rice, millet, buckwheat, or one of these other foods.
Gluten-free cooking tips
Gluten helps provide structure and texture to the foods we bake and cook. Novice GF cooks may not know that baked goods need thickening agents (such as xanthan gum) when working with recipes that call for rice, coconut, or other alternative flours. Click here for Epicurious’ roundup of gluten-free cooking tips and recipes.
Your guide to prepared meals
All of the above is great to know when you’re cooking for yourself, but it’s not much help if you’re at a restaurant or someone else’s home. GlutenFreeLiving.com is a great resource for national restaurant guides and dining while traveling.
Some of the following offer several different cuisines, but each provides a gluten-free meal option.
Green Chef delivers 30-minute meals for people who love to cook but are too busy to shop. Click here for menu and price information.
Fresh ‘N’ Lean does all the work for you and offers a range of menu options at various price points.
Gluten-free options are popular with people who want to shed a few pounds, but you shouldn’t change your diet unless your doctor confirms that the health benefits of following a gluten-free regimen outweigh the risks. With the supervision of a registered dietitian, you can easily find gas-free foods and plan healthy meals!
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.