How to Eat Gluten-Free

If it has been recommended that you go on no-gluten diet, you may be wondering how to eat gluten-free.  Does this mean no more bread or pasta?  Does it mean no more eating out?  We will cover the basics of gluten-free living to help you understand how to successfully go gluten-free without losing your sanity or breaking your budget.

What is Gluten?

So you may be wondering, what exactly is gluten and why does it matter?  Gluten is a protein found in certain grains including wheat, rye, and barley.  For those with mold illness, you may make antibodies to a part of the gluten called gliadin.  These antibodies in turn cause further inflammation in your body.  A simple blood test can determine whether or not you are making these antibodies.  This condition can be controlled by use of a gluten-free diet while you are undergoing treatment for your mold illness.  It is recommended that you eliminate all gluten from your diet for a period of 3 to 6 months if you are positive for these antibodies.

How to Eat Gluten-Free in the Real World

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If it is necessary for you to eat gluten-free, there are some changes you are going to have to make in your diet.  The first rule is to always read the label.  Truth be told, most processed foods have gluten in some form, so reading labels becomes crucial when avoiding gluten-containing products.  Everything from bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, salad dressing, sauces, and cereal to beer, bread crumbs, and malt may contain gluten.  There are a wide variety of choices available these days of certified gluten-free alternatives for many of your favorite items.

Some foods are naturally gluten-free and should be the staple of a nutritious gluten-free diet.  Foods such as fresh meat, poultry, or fish with no breading or other additives; fresh fruits and vegetables with no sauces; dairy products; eggs; beans; seeds; nuts; quinoa; rice; and corn are all naturally gluten-free if consumed in their most natural form with no additives, sauces, or breading.  Avoid processed foods including processed meats and be very careful with items that come in a box, can, or other package, especially those with a long list of ingredients.  When it comes to gluten-free living, simpler is better.  Oats themselves are gluten-free but are usually cross-contaminated by other grains and should probably be avoided on a gluten-free diet unless you get certified gluten-free oats.  Some restaurants do offer gluten-free options, but be sure to ask and make it clear that you are eating gluten-free.  Home-cooked meals allow you the opportunity to know exactly what ingredients are in your meal and give you the chance to substitute with gluten-free alternatives if necessary.  It is possible to still enjoy your favorite dishes with a few alterations.  With a little forethought and planning, you can avoid eating out by packing your lunch or suitable snacks.  You can purchase gluten-free bread and pasta that is just as good as their full-gluten counterparts.  If you don’t like a certain brand, try another or try switching to a different grain.  For instance, if you find that you don’t enjoy rice pasta, look for one made of corn or quinoa instead.  The quality and selection of gluten-free foods has made incredible strides over the last few years, and with a little trial and error, you are bound to find a suitable alternative.  You can buy gluten-free bread made of corn, rice, or millet just to name a few.  Once again, try different grains or brands to find the one that best suits your taste.  You may also find that you are happy simply eating a grain-free diet that focuses on just fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables without the need to find gluten-free substitutes.

Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks

  • For thickening gravy or other sauces, try cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
  • If you are in need of easy snack items while on the go, try a piece of fruit, some raw nuts or seeds, or a Larabar.
  • To make your own homemade bread crumbs, simply purchase some pre-ground rice crumbs such as Orgran all purpose rice crumbs and add some Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and other spices as desired.
  • Buckwheat is gluten-free and makes a good alternative to oatmeal for a cooked breakfast cereal.
  • Visit your local health food store for a variety of gluten-free products as well as helpful and friendly staff that can assist you in choosing gluten-free items.
  • Some gluten-free alternatives can be found in your local Walmart Supercenter or grocery store.

Some of my favorite gluten-free items include Betty Crocker All Purpose Gluten Free Rice Flour Blend and Betty Crocker gluten-free dessert mixes, Orgran All Purpose Rice Crumbs, Pocono Cream of Buckwheat Hot Cereal, Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta, gluten-free Rice Krispies or Rice Chex, Crunchmaster crackers, and Larabars.

Hopefully you now have a good idea of how to eat gluten-free and what things to look for when choosing gluten-free products.