13 Tips to Start a Gluten-Free Diet
Sticking to a gluten-free diet may be an overwhelming and unnerving task. But bistroMD is here to make your life easier with these 13 tips to start a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a protein found in a variety of grains. It helps food maintain their shape and acts as the glue to hold food together.
Gluten often has a bad reputation, although the protein is harmless for most. But for those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, going gluten-free is the only known treatment.
While sticking to a gluten-free diet is achievable, it may be an overwhelming and unnerving task.
But bistroMD is here to make with life easier! Practice these 13 gluten-free when or if starting a gluten-free diet.
Why Go Gluten-Free?
Going gluten-free is recommended for those managing celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. In fact, it is the only known treatment.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body perceives gluten as harmful. When gluten is ingested, the body attacks itself and damage its own intestines. Those with celiac disease may experience indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea and vomiting.
Diagnosing celiac often includes blood tests and biopsies. Individuals may also identify themselves with a gluten intolerance if symptoms are present but do not test positive for celiacs.
Despite the condition, ongoing and chronic damage to the lining can lead to a host of health concerns. Following a gluten-free diet can lower such risks and improve health outcomes.
Ultimately, though, always consult with a healthcare professional before giving up gluten. Working with a doctor and dietitian can help create a safe plan to ensure nutritional needs are met.
These tips for going gluten-free beginners can also make life both easier and healthier.
How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet
1. Avoid "Red Light" Foods
Avoiding "red light" foods helps alleviate symptoms associated to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The body can begin healing itself to reduce health complications later down the road.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten-containing grains and their derivatives include the following:
• Varieties and derivatives of wheat, including durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, farro, graham, semolina, spelt, and wheat berries
• Malt in various forms, such as malted barley flour, extract, and syrup
• Brewer's yeast
• Wheat starch
There are a number of foods that are prepared with the listed gluten-containing grains. These include pastas, breads, cereals, pastries, sauces, marinades, crackers, and protein bars.
2. Enjoy "Green Light" Foods
Starting a gluten-free diet does not mean a restrictive, bland diet. There are is an extensive amount of foods that are celiac disease-friendly and signal the "green light."
Instead of going into the diet with a narrowed mindset, take this opportunity to explore healthy gluten-free foods. For instance, there are numerous gluten-free grains such as rice varieties, oats, corn, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet.
Other naturally gluten-free foods include fresh produce, animal meat and protein, milk and dairy, fish, legumes and lentils.
3. Enjoy Nature's Garden
Get back to basics by enjoying food from nature's garden. Again, fresh produce is naturally gluten-free. Fruits and veggies also supply extensive nutrients the body benefits from, including fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Explore the nearest farmers market, or experiment with new fruits, veggies, and herbs found in most grocery stores. If really feeling ambitious, plant a garden!
As a general rule of thumb, aim for at least 5 servings of produce daily.
4. Use Substitutes and Alternatives
Though favorite food products may contain that notorious gluten, food companies continue to cater to a gluten-free clientele.
Seek out substitutes and alternatives to still enjoy favored meals, including gluten-free pasta noodles, breads, and cereals. These products are often prepared with gluten-free grains, nut and seed flours.
5. Chat with Restaurant Employees
Following a gluten-free diet does not mean skipping out on favorite restaurants. What's more, restaurants also are making large strides to offer gluten-free menus.
And rather than feeling embarrassed or discouraged to address gluten-free options, chat openly with the restaurant employees. They will be able to guide you on safe food options.
Additionally, keeping the restaurant aware can further increase their attentiveness in reducing gluten cross-contamination.
6. Get Comfortable with Labels
When in doubt, check the label out! Product and ingredient labels provide deep insight of the food and nutrients it provides, including the verification of gluten.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the term "gluten-free" for voluntary use. Food products that bear the claim must meet set requirements of the gluten-free labeling rule.
Besides, gluten can be hidden in a number of products. Such items include cosmetics, supplements, and vitamins.
Using the label is important to identify a safe, gluten-free product. Contacting the manufacturer regarding their products is also helpful.
7. Experiment in the Kitchen
Use this time to start having fun (or more fun) in the kitchen! Though going out and enjoying meals certainly still stands, preparing meals at home helps with ingredient control.
This serves true for not only gluten avoidance, but of unwanted fat, sugar, salt, and other preservatives.
8. Form or Join a Support Group
Forming or joining such groups can further strengthen knowledge of a gluten-free diet and form a strong support system.
Having a support group can reduce potential concerns while increasing confidence in sustaining a gluten-free diet.
9. Seek Out Resources
Especially with the internet so easily accessible, there is an extensive amount of resources right at your fingertips.
Celiac disease and gluten-free resources are valuable for quick and informative material without expensive healthcare bills. A quick engine search can further supply available resources.
10. Stay Fact-Focused
When seeking out resources and informational material, stay fact-focused. With so many resources available, getting sucked into intriguing recommendations is reasonable.
However, it is important to disregard self-taught theories of non-credentialed individuals and stick to the facts. Use accredited websites and organizations when doing research.
11. Be Proactive
Building a game plan and being proactive can minimize the risk of ingesting gluten and the undesirable side effects. This might include searching menus, identifying gluten-free products prior to a grocery store trip, and partaking in meal prep.
As an added bonus, taking such precautions can also save on time and money!
12. Remain Positive
Like in most (or all) aspects of life, remain positive!
Managing celiac disease can be tough, especially in the beginning stages. However, it is important to stay encouraging and continue to live life in a healthful way.
Keeping an optimistic attitude can better serve health and prevent potential consequences later down the road.
13. Consider a Gluten-Free Meal Delivery Service
While eating a gluten-free diet can certainly be achieved, following one may come with substantial pressures. Ordering gluten-free meals from a meal delivery service offers a peace of mind. It also takes out the guesswork of healthy eating.
All meals are tested to the Food and Drug Administration gluten-free standard of 20 parts per million (ppm) or less. They also do not contain wheat, rye, barley, or their constitutes.
Meals are also crafted with fresh, all natural ingredients and combine the nutritional requirements of a gluten-free diet. Every bite taken is also proven to facilitate weight loss and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Also enjoy a completely customizable menu and numerous recipes. Truly, never feel limited of gluten-free options, robbed of flavor, or deprived of nutrients!