Gluten Free Diet – How Do I Start?

Gluten Free Diet – What’s on the Menu, What’s Not?

Eating a gluten free diet can be a great way to improve your mental and physical health and lose some weight; sometimes a significant amount of weight. While statistics vary on how many people are allergic or sensitive to gluten, from my own experience and from people I talk to, I suspect it’s considerably higher than we think.

Trying to adopt a gluten free lifestyle can be overwhelming and confusing. It’s difficult to know which foods are gluten free and which foods aren’t as there’s a lot of conflicting information. Let’s take a basic look at what is allowed on a gluten free diet and what isn’t. Beyond that, we’ll take a look at a few ways to approach a gluten free lifestyle and help you figure out the best way to get started.

Gluten Free

Not Allowed on a Gluten Free Diet:

The easiest way to approach a gluten free diet is to avoid anything that contains:

  • Wheat
  • Kamut
  • Spelt
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Malts, including malt vinegar
  • Triticale
  • And anything containing the word “dextrin.” For example, maltodextrin contains gluten.

Oats are themselves gluten free, but they’re commonly contaminated with gluten and can cause problems for people who have a gluten allergy. (If you have celiac disease, it may be important to eliminate oats from your diet, too.) If you’re eliminating gluten for other less dire health reasons, oats may be safe.  Just be aware that most oatmeal on the market today has been cross-contaminated with at least a tiny bit of wheat, barley and/or rye. Unless it’s pure oats, it will have some gluten and is unsafe for someone trying to pursue a gluten free diet.

Be Sure the Oats are Gluten Free

You’ll find gluten in baked goods, crackers, processed foods, cereals, sausages, lunchmeats and even condiments like barbeque sauce. It’s been found to be a highly addictive substance, and so to keep you coming back for more, McDonald’s has actually been discovered to spray their french fries with gluten. Additionally, you must become an avid reader of labels; look for ingredients containing gluten, malt, and dextrin as well as a disclosure found only on the back of products (in fine print) disclosing as required by law that the product has been produced in a facility which also processes wheat and other gluten containing food.

What Can I Eat on a Gluten Free Diet?

Whole foods are generally safe. We’re talking about grass fed organic meat, wild caught fish, organic vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts. Beans and other whole grains are safe too. For example, quinoa is a protein rich whole grain. While from a gluten perspective, you can also eat corn, potatoes, and rice, I don’t recommend it for a variety of reasons too complex to discuss in this short blog.

Almond flour is a delicious substitute for wheat flour. You can make cookies, muffins, biscuits and even pizza crust with almond flour and other alternative flours. The link to the right contains a few recipes that will get you started down the gluten free eating path.

Starting Your Gluten Free Diet

It’s important to keep a food journal and track your gluten free diet results. If you have Celiac disease, it’s important to completely eliminate all gluten.  You may simply have a wheat allergy or sensitivity. If this is the case you’ll see a benefit to removing wheat from your diet but other grains may fine. Keep a journal. If you accidentally, or intentionally, consume gluten then make a record of how your body reacts and of how you feel emotionally.

According to experts most people aren’t actually ”allergic” to gluten. However, a growing number of people are discovering that a gluten free diet offers significant health and weight loss benefits. Eliminating gluten for a month or two may be the best way to discover if a gluten free life is right for you. Once your body has gotten used to being gluten free and you feel so much better, you won’t miss it at all!

Make Your Life a Thin Strong Healthy One!

Cheryl Major

Cheryl Major

 

 

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