A gluten-free diet is one of the most popular ones these days, but how do you get started? While some individuals follow a gluten-free diet due to problems caused by celiac disease, others are ditching the bread in the belief that it’s a healthier way to live. And there are those who follow it in order to support their weight loss. No matter what your reasoning, starting a gluten-free diet may be the right way to keep you healthy, happy and satisfied.
What Does a Healthy Gluten-Free Diet Look Like?
To the surprise of many, gluten-free diet doesn’t differ much from a traditional healthy diet, with the exception of a few fancy foods. The majority of diet is based on clean eating, meaning filling your plate with wholesome gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, fish and lean meat. And isn’t this dietitians’ recommendation for everyone, whether intolerant to gluten or not. And contrary to popular belief, gluten-free doesn’t mean no grains at all, so if you love your grains, know you can still include them in your diet. There are many great gluten-free options such as millet, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, to name a few. Not to mention that you can even find gluten-free pasta made from quinoa, corn or beans.
The bottom line is, if you arm yourself with the right knowledge, the gluten-free diet can be relatively easy to adapt to. From reading food labels when you shop to considering gluten free meal delivery, here are some tips to help hop on a healthy gluten-free diet wagon.
Make It a Habit to Read Food Labels
Packaged foods are generally covered by allergen labelling regulations, meaning it’s easy to know if a product is suitable or not for a gluten-free diet by simply reading the list of ingredients. For example, if a cereal containing gluten had been used as an ingredient in the making of a product, it must be listed in the ingredients list no matter how little of it was used. The specific grain will be listed, so look for rye, wheat, spelt, oats, or any other grain made as the combination of any of these together as these all contain gluten. Sometimes, these ingredients are highlighted in bold.
Use Gluten-Free Substitutes in Place of Foods that Contain Gluten
Bread, crackers, pasta.. all these contain gluten. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy these foods. Look for gluten-free alternatives of your favourite foods, which you can easily find in most supermarkets and health food stores.
Consider Having Gluten-Free Meals Delivered
For many home cooks, switching to a gluten-free diet isn’t a big challenge. The majority of recipes can be made “as-is” or with simple swaps. Plus, nowadays, gluten-free food sections of supermarkets are usually clearly labelled and well-stocked. But if you already find it difficult to find time to shop and make dinner, having to shop for gluten-free ingredients or figure out recipe substitutions may be a lot of work. In this case, the best answer is to subscribe to a gluten-free meal delivery service. Companies that deliver complete meal kits to your door have become quite popular. For many people who lead super-busy lives, this means saving time on frequent grocery shopping and lengthy meal prep. These meal kits include a selection of high protein, healthy and convenient meals to assist you in maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.
Lots of Foods Are Naturally Gluten-Free
Fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, poultry, meat, cheese and eggs are all naturally gluten-free, so use these as the base for your meals.
Not All Grains and Cereals are Off the Menu
Amaranth, teff, quinoa, buckwheat, polenta, tapioca and millet are just some of the naturally gluten-free grains which can be included in the diet. But you need to check the labels to make sure you are getting uncontaminated versions. Opt for gluten-free buckwheat or rice noodles and pasta, swap traditional breadcrumbs for polenta crumbs and try baking quinoa for gluten-free alternatives.
Know Which Alcohol to Keep Off of Your List
Gluten-free alcohol includes wine, cider, spirits, sherry, port and liqueurs. Beer, lagers, stouts and ales, on the other hand, contain varying amount of gluten, so keep them at bay. Or even better, do not consume them at all. There are gluten-free beers available in some markets and restaurants, but make sure you only drink the ones that are labelled gluten-free.
Be Aware of Cross Contamination
If you have coeliac disease, know that even a tiny bit of gluten could be enough to cause you symptoms. With that being said, make sure you minimize your risk of contamination with gluten-containing foods. Do this by washing down kitchen surfaces before use, separate jams, butters and spreads to minimize the spread of crumbs and invest in some toaster bags to keep you gluten-free bread separate.