Going gluten-free may seem really overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is some basic information on what it is, its benefits and how to easily sustain such a lifestyle.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the generic name of proteins found in rye, wheat, and barley.
It is also found in the different varieties of wheat and also products that contain the above as ingredients.
Why go gluten-free?
There are many reasons why one would consider starting on a gluten-free diet.
This is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.
In this situation, exposure to the smallest amount of gluten may result in illness with outward symptoms or may cause internal damage to your body with long-term health effects.
People with this condition are advised to request food be cooked without any contact with gluten products. This means that the food should be prepared on a clean surface, thoroughly cleaned utensils, and separate oil.
- Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
This is a condition that mimics symptoms associated with celiac disease but causes no damage to the small intestine.
In this situation, cross-contamination is not a major concern since the amount of gluten required to cause any symptoms differs from one person to the other.
- Wheat allergy
People with this allergies tend to have rashes, trouble breathing, vomiting or diarrhea.
They are advised to take extra precautions while eating out to avoid any chances of cross-contamination.
- Overall health improvement
The benefits of going gluten free are enormous. This will lead to a number of people making it a personal preference to live such a lifestyle.
Having a gluten-free diet may lead to energy boost, improved gut health and increased intake of fruits and vegetable which many people often don’t pay much attention to.
Here, many people may not be as strict and some may even not last on the diet but it all depends on your personal goals and your intentions for the diet change.
Other reasons that may steer one towards a gluten-free diet may include; weight loss, inflammatory conditions or autism.
Foods that are naturally gluten-free
There are foods that do not contain gluten and are not processed
- All grains except wheat, barley, and rye are naturally gluten-free
- Amaranth etc.
- All flours made from gluten-free grains
- Almond flour
- Amaranth flour
- Rice flour
- Cassava flour etc.
- Fruits and vegetables
- Meat and poultry
- Fish and Seafood
- Beans, legumes, and nuts
Steps to take to ensure you stick to a gluten-free diet
- Start by cleaning out your kitchen pantry
Make it a priority to spend a few hours of your day going through all the food products you have and get rid of all the gluten products you had stocked up on.
This may be wheat or products with any of the gluten grains as an ingredient.
Also, go through your utensils and see what you can replace e.g a toaster since it may have some of the breadcrumbs that you need to avoid.
- Stock up on gluten-free packaged products
Purchase products that are labeled “certified gluten-free” or have been made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. This will ensure you avoid any risks of cross-contamination.
If you come across any products that are not labeled take time to go through the ingredients to identify any gluten food that may have been used.
- Buy some fresh produce and meats
This is by far the best and easiest way to ensure you stick to a gluten-free diet.
Vegetables, fruits, and meat do not contain any gluten this will make it less challenging or overwhelming.
You could pair these vegetables with a packaged product that is labeled gluten free and have a nice meal.
- Pay attention to labels and ingredients
Packaged products should be labeled
This means that it has the gluten-free certification and is good for the consumer.
These products should bear a gluten-free label that is regulated by the FDA making it safe for consumption
If any products are not certified or labeled gluten-free you should go through the ingredients and avoid those with wheat, barley, rye or malt.
- Eating out and ordering in
Once you are living the gluten-free lifestyle it should basically apply wherever you are.
When you are out in a restaurant just make a request for them to prepare you a gluten-free meal. This, however, applies in a situation where you are not that concerned about cross-contamination.
There are also those days when you just can’t be bothered to cook or prepare anything. This is a good time to order a delivery of gluten-free meals to make sure you do not indulge in things that don’t meet your goal.
- Maintain a balanced diet
Make it a point to always eat a balanced meal. Going gluten-free does not mean neglecting a balanced diet, it should be a priority.
Moreover, having a balanced diet will ensure you gain all the health benefits associated with going gluten-free.
Being a beginner on this journey may mean you will make a few mistakes and that is okay. It is a learning experience and you should avoid beating yourself up if you don’t get everything right. You may get a few symptoms since your body will be primed to react to any little gluten you may consume.
Maintaining a gluten-free diet will require self-discipline to help avoid all those cravings. It is understandable that your body is not used to such a lifestyle and it will definitely want to retaliate. So keep your meals ready to avoid snacking on gluten products.