For some people a gluten free diet is a lifestyle choice, but for many, it’s because they have an intolerance or allergy to gluten. Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye and triticale. Wheat allergy and celiac disease are different disorders. Let me start out by staying that gluten is everywhere. It’s nearly impossible for those with gluten sensitivities to go out to eat and not experience some reaction from even a crumb of cross-contamination. We have found the easiest way to avoid gluten is to prepare foods at home.
Here are 7 steps to help you eliminate gluten from your diet:
1- Go through your pantry, cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. Read the labels on everything and either donate items that contain “wheat flour”, “enriched wheat flour”, and some products have allergy information some where on the label so remove anything that says “Allergy: wheat.” Also, oats can have cross contamination unless they are marked as gluten free.
2- Head out to your local grocery store and see what they have for gluten free foods. More and more gluten free options are becoming available every day. Some of our favorite brands are: Pamela’s flour and mixes, Udi’s, Glutino, Sam Mills, Ancient Harvest, Van’s, Bob’s Red Mill, and Annie’s.
3- Try to educate your family and friends about gluten free. This has been a little challenging to remind our friends and family that cross-contamination can cause a reaction. However, the more that we talked about it with our loved ones, a few of them have gone gluten free, too! My sister complained of stomach pains for many months before we convinced her to just try avoiding gluten for a few days. She was so thankful to find that her stomach pains went away! My brother in law was diagnosed with MS a few years ago. He experimented with a GF diet and found that it helped ease his MS symptoms. When we get together, food choices are so easy because we don’t have to label certain dishes as “Gluten Free” or try to remember what foods are safe.
(Check out our review of the Pillsbury Gluten Free Dough)
4- Seek out naturally gluten free foods. Eating clean, the paleo diet, and fresh meats and produce do not contain gluten. Gluten is often used as a filler in products (like some pepperoni and sausages) so beware of items that list “natural flavors” in the ingredients list.
5- Make freezer space! Many gluten free foods don’t keep for very long. We learned the hard way that if you buy a gluten free item from the fridge or freezer in the store, that is the best way to store it at home. We buy our bread in bulk (to save a little money) and keep the loaves we’re not currently using in the freezer. When we want a slice or two it’s easy to pop them in the toaster to warm it up and add a nice browning color.
(Recipe for Gluten Free & Nut Free Chocolate Chip Muffins)
6- Bake your own goodies! Ready made desserts from the store or restaurants are fairly easy to make at home. I love using all purpose gluten free flours as a substitute in my baking. Much of the time there is not really a taste difference between our old glutenous food and the gluten free version. There are many wonderful recipes at your fingertips by searching the web for gluten free alternatives to your favorite foods. You can check out our collection of Gluten Free recipes too!
7- Don’t forget to tell the waiter/waitress about your gluten free preference. So many times we forget to mention that we cannot have croutons on our salad, or forget to ask if the french fries are cooked in the same fryer as the breaded foods like chicken nuggets and onion rings. It can be very discouraging and disappointing when things like this happen, but if the person preparing your food is aware of these things it can help greatly!