These days, more and more people are learning they're intolerant to gluten. Whether you have Celiac disease, are suffering from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or just because you choose to eat a gluten-free diet, it's important to understand the basics of eating gluten-free.
Gluten is often difficult to avoid because it is hidden in many commonly consumed foods. The chief elements of gluten are found in wheat, barley, and rye, but can also be found in other grains like corn, oats, and even rice.
Staying gluten-free can sometimes feel like a challenge. So, here are the 7 tips on staying gluten-free.
#1 Find out what you can’t eat first
When you're trying to stay gluten-free, it's important to have a clear idea of what you can't eat.
Gluten can be found in many grains and processed foods. It's what gives bread its chewy texture and helps the dough rise. It's used as a binder in many foods. It can also be present in processed foods that don't appear to contain wheat.
Foods that contain gluten include bread, cereals, pasta, muffins, cookies, and cakes. Other foods that may have gluten in them include salad dressings and sauces, soups, gravies, bouillon cubes, and other prepared foods..
It is important to note that the gluten-free diet is not a diet that excludes all gluten; rather, it excludes only certain sources of gluten.
#2 Check the label
When looking for gluten-free products, check the label. The label will list the ingredients in the product, and if any of those ingredients are wheat, barley, or rye, then the product is not gluten-free.
Also look out for food additives and ingredients that may contain gluten such as modified food starch, gluten stabilizer, soy sauce, emulsifiers, and malt-based ingredients.
Also, if it does not have a label stating that it is gluten-free, it means that there could be contamination with wheat flour or other products which contain gluten.
If this is the case, it's best to avoid eating the product.
Success in staying gluten-free comes down to double-checking ingredient labels, as it is easy to accidentally consume something that contains gluten.
#3 Know where to shop
Most grocery stores now have an entire section dedicated to gluten-free products, but if you're looking for something specific like breadcrumbs or oatmeal, check out your local health food store first!
#4 Discuss Meal Options
When eating out, call the restaurant earlier the same day or a day before and discuss your meal options and discuss that you are on a gluten-free diet
Discuss your meal options with the restaurant. This way they can make sure your food is prepared properly and will not contain any gluten.
#5 Use gluten-free substitutes
Many people are surprised to learn that pasta, bread, and crackers contain gluten. However, it doesn't mean you can't eat these foods if you're on a gluten-free diet. There are many gluten-free substitutes available in most grocery stores today.
Pasta: There are many types of gluten-free pasta available at your local grocery store. These kinds of pasta come in all different shapes and sizes and are made from many different grains including corn, rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.
Bread: If you're looking for a quick snack or just want something new to try in place of regular bread, check out some of the many varieties of gluten-free bread.
Crackers: Crackers made with rice flour or cornmeal are also considered to be gluten-free and safe for people who are on this diet.
Experimenting in the kitchen can be a great way to get used to gluten-free substitutes, and it can also help you find some new favorites.
#6 Bring your own snacks
It's always a good idea to bring your own snacks with you wherever you go—you never know what kind of situation might arise where food isn't available.
A gluten free protein bar is a great choice for a snack because it provides the energy and protein you need to get through the day. So gluten free protein bars will keep you feeling full while supporting your gluten-free diet.
#7 Avoid the Risks of Cross-contamination
There are many risks associated with the gluten-free diet, and cross-contamination is one of them. Cross-contamination occurs when you prepare your food using utensils or tools that have been used to prepare or handle gluten-containing foods.
If you are preparing gluten-free foods in an area where other foods are prepared, there is a chance that some of those other ingredients could get into your gluten-free foods. For example, if you were to use a knife to cut up vegetables for a salad and then cut up some bread without cleaning off the knife first, there would be a chance that some of those bread crumbs could end up in your salad. If this happens often enough, it could make it difficult for you to stay away from cross-contamination.
To avoid this risk in your household, when preparing meals, use separate cutting boards, knives, and utensils for foods containing gluten and those that are gluten-free. Also, use separate plates, cups, and utensils for foods containing gluten and those that are gluten-free.
Next, consider when you are cleaning the dishes. Never use the same dishwasher basket or rack to clean both types of dishes. Also, wash them in different cycles.
Make sure all cooking surfaces are cleaned thoroughly before and after cooking. This includes plates and utensils used for gluten-free food.
Staying Gluten Free
Staying gluten-free can be difficult at times. But with discipline and a little planning, it's not impossible to avoid gluten and live a healthy, happy life.