Whether you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance, or you are cutting gluten out of your diet for other reasons, there are some definite challenges associated with going gluten-free. It can feel limiting and frustrating, but luckily there are plenty of great resources and substitution options. Check out our friends at the NFCA for more info about Celiac disease, symptoms, diagnosis, and testing. They also have a widespread, supportive community that can help answer questions about living life without gluten. Below are some basics to help you get on the right track when going gluten-free.
One of the first steps to take when going gluten-free is to become familiar with different types of grains, and learn which ones are safe for you to eat. Wheat, Barley, and Rye are the three major types of grains that you should steer clear of, because they all contain the gluten protein. They are also the most common ingredients in most bread, pasta, cereal, gravy sauces, and beer. The good news is there are plenty of grains that contain no gluten, and can act as an awesome substitute to the more traditional forms of wheat many of us are used to. Arrowhead Mills Organic White Rice Flour and Organic Fair Trade Coconut Flour are both great gluten-free options for baking. Quinoa is another example of a safe grain, and has the added benefit of being a complete protein!
Fortunately, gluten-free food has become extremely popular, so there are more store bought gluten-free options than ever before. This comes in handy for staples like bread, pasta, and snacks, but it’s also important to remember that plenty of your favorite foods are naturally gluten-free! Fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese, meat, and fish don’t contain gluten, and have numerous other health benefits as well!
One of the most crucial parts of following a gluten-free diet is learning to read food labels. If you are unsure if a product is safe for you to consume, check out the label and make sure it doesn’t contain any wheat products or flours, including Kamut, Semolina, Durum flour, Farina, Barley (malt, malt flavoring), Rye, Triticale, Spelt or Graham flour. If you’ve read the back of the label and you are still unsure, it is safer to go for something that is certified gluten-free.
Keep an eye out for cross-contamination. This can happen at the manufacturing level, at a restaurant, and even at home. If you are concerned about cross-contamination in store bought foods, make sure it is labeled “gluten-free,” because this means it is regulated by the FDA. You can also reach out to the company or manufacturer and ask if their products are made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. When going out to eat, look for restaurants that advertise gluten-free options, and call ahead to make sure they are prepared in a way that eliminates the chance of cross-contamination. In your own home, make sure that you thoroughly clean all surfaces you might prepare food wash all utensils and dishware that may have been exposed to foods containing gluten.
Get creative in the kitchen! Like we mentioned earlier, there are tons of great substitutes for baking, and you can come up with awesome alternatives to some of your favorite recipes! If you need a little inspiration, head over to our recipe page and our Pinterest to get started on some homemade gluten-free goodness!