Switching to a gluten free diet can be a bit tricky at first, but if you are sensitive to gluten then a gluten free diet can be amazingly beneficial to your health and well-being. Gluten sneaks into many foods, and even can be a component of vitamin tablets or medicines as “starch” fillers. And, the definition of “gluten free” can vary from country to country, so knowing where it may show up is a valuable bit of knowledge.
Tips On Selecting Gluten-Free Foods
Tip 1. Read your labels! Watch for “starch” in the ingredients of vitamins and medicines, condiments, and processed foods and beverages. Not all “starch” is bad, though — many manufacturers use cornstarch, arrowroot, rice starch, tapioca, soy and legumes, etc.. But if it simply says “starch” you may wish to look for a different brand who states exactly where their starch comes from.
Tip 2. Eat Fresh: Fresh fruits, meats, vegetables and whole juices are naturally free from gluten. So, the “simpler” the food, the more control you have over where gluten may hide. (You’ll also have MUCH more control over the saturated fat, carbohydrate and sodium amounts in your meals.)
Tip 3. Choose starch foods that are rice, corn, potato and legume based (all gluten free). And if you need a thickener for your cooking, try arrowroot, tapioca flour, corn starch, fine ground oat flour.
Tip 4. Put question-marks on your shopping list by foods which you suspect may contain gluten. That will remind you to check those labels before those items sneak into your shopping cart unawares.
Tip 5. Learn your terms. Some ingredients which may include gluten are hydrolyzed vegetable protein, grains such as wheat, durham, seminola, triticale, rye, bran (oats and oat bran are usually ok), rye, barley, farina, spelt, bulgur Kasha, graham flour, wheat germ and bran, barley, and even malt.
Tip 6. Make the Gluten-Free aisles and Health Food stores your friends! Some mainstream stores have sections both in the regular aisles and the refrigerator / freezer sections which can carry gluten free products. And Health or Natural food stores have a wonderful creative selection for the gluten free shopper.
Tip 7. Check the internet for support groups for gluten intolerance or Celiac disease websites. They can be a fantastic resource for gluten free recipes, nutritious menu planning, and tips for what to watch out for (did you know that gluten can sneak in to things as unlikely as lipstick, balms, and even toothpaste?). They may have links to sources for gluten-free food shopping, cookbooks, newsletters, other websites and support groups.
It may be tiring at first, trying to switch over to a gluten free lifestyle. But with patience, creativity and time, you will discover a world of great tasting and nutritious meals. It’s a big step and may be hard to follow at first, but take heart — once you start, the cravings for wheat products and their kin should almost vanish within just a few days. You’ll feel energized, headaches and fatigue should lessen, and with all the gluten-free choices nowadays, it’s a new world of taste and flavor to explore!