7 Keys to Starting a Successful Gluten Free Diet
1. Get a test for celiac disease – you cannot be tested accurately if you are not eating gluten! This is important for determining if you are willing to eat small amounts of gluten or not. (if you are celiac, you must be 100% strict, however those who are gluten intolerant may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten without any effect).
2. Find a gluten free bread that you can easily buy. Taste test it before you commit to being gluten free – this will make the switch to lunch without gluten easier. Tip – toast your sandwiches in a sandwich press to make them more appealing.
3. Find a gluten free breakfast that you enjoy eating, and that you can eat every day. This could be cereal (try in the health food section, but always check the label) or toast and jam.
4. If there are any foods that you will miss eating, enjoy them before you begin your diet (for me, this is croissants!) Some flaky pastry items are hard to find.
5. Plan your first week of gluten free meals, and make sure you have all the ingredients to make these. Don’t forget lunches and snacks! Plain meats, vegetables, rice and potatoes are all free from gluten. If the food has been processed, read the label carefully.
6. Make sure you have a gluten free flour (a mixture of different gluten free flours is best) in the pantry. You will be able to thicken sauces, coat meat and even treat yourself to home made pancakes!
7. Replace tempting foods with treats that contain no gluten, so you can look after yourself, and avoid the temptation to eat foods containing gluten.
If you are not sure if you need to avoid gluten (If you are diagnosed celiac, do not try this step!), you should try avoiding it for 3-4 weeks. This gives your body time to heal and recover.
You may notice an improvement in your symptoms, and sometimes in other areas, such as having more energy. You can then reintroduce gluten to your diet. You should make sure you eat lots of gluten containing foods, so that your body can respond rapidly. Pay attention to your body for the next few days, as sometimes it can take a few days for symptoms to show up (personally, I can have a reaction up to 4 days after eating gluten).
These tips help to make your first few weeks of your diet easier. Remember to take baby steps when eliminating gluten, as there are many skills to learn. Once you have mastered these steps, you are ready to begin to search for new foods to add to your diet.