One of the hardest parts of the gluten free lifestyle is how to start it. The diet can be overwhelming when you are first starting out. Like anything that is daunting, I find that if you break the task down into steps, the task becomes more manageable.
This morning I was searching for a document on an old external hard drive and I came across an old article I wrote about this subject. Everything I wrote a few years ago is still true so I have decided to repost the article here.
Tips to help you start a gluten free diet
More and more people are on a gluten free diet these days. Whether you have celiac disease, gluten intolerance, an allergy or an anti-inflammatory disease, your situation is the same. You need to figure out how to tackle this crazy world of gluten free living.
Our society is so gluten-filled that it can often be overwhelming to think about not eating gluten for the rest of your life. We are told to eat our multi-grain cereal for breakfast, our sandwich on wheat bread for lunch and fancy high-fiber grains with our dinner. But what do you do if you can’t eat any of these things anymore?
Gluten is the protein found in barley, rye and wheat. It is found in the majority of our processed food items and can be found in some very sneaky places that you wouldn’t suspect, such as shredded cheese and artificial bacon bits.
Here are ten tips to follow when starting a gluten free diet.
1. Get a comprehensive list of where gluten can be found. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America has an excellent bulletin about gluten free foods. www.gluten.net
2. Learn how to read food labels. In the United States, food companies are now required to list if wheat is included in the ingredients. Many products say “gluten free” on the packaging as a marketing concept; however it is important that you learn what is actually in your food and become a gluten “detective”.
3. Stick to “real” food for a while. Most of the food we eat today isn’t even food. The majority of what we stick in our mouths is processed. Try eating fruits and vegetables, meat, and whole grains such as wild rice or quinoa. You will feel better and not have to worry whether you are ingesting gluten. These foods are inherently gluten free. Search our recipe archives for some terrific rice and quinoa recipes.
4. Make a list of the foods you really love and look online for a gluten-free replacement recipe. There are many websites with wonderful recipes and cooking tips.
5. Join a local support group or an online community. Both the Celiac Sprue Association and The Gluten Intolerance Group have local groups that provided support in many communities. Also, many Whole Foods Markets offer monthly gluten free gatherings.
6. Find a local cooking school or instructor to help you learn how to make your favorite recipes. There are also weekend seminars to help you learn how to cook gluten free foods, such as The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo.
7. Meet with a nutritionist that really understands the gluten free diet. Your nutritionist can be of tremendous help in making sure you are getting enough fiber and nutrients on your new diet.
8. Find a blog you really like and become a member of the online gluten free community. There is a lot of support online for those on a gluten free diet.
9. Locate a few restaurants in your community that can provide you with safe gluten free food. There are times when you don’t feel like cooking and it is really great to know you can eat our safely.
10. Find a friend to support you on your gluten-free journey. Any journey is easier if you are not alone!