There are so many great reasons to go gluten-free…this type of diet, which eliminates food products that contain gluten (including wheat, rye, spelt, kamut and barley), can clear up allergies, bloating, gastrointestinal disorders, and so much more.
Getting started with this lifestyle may require some degree of willpower (as well as an ongoing commitment to trying out new ways of cooking and baking). Luckily, grocery stores and health food emporiums are becoming very sensitive to the needs of these shoppers – they now provide a host of delicious substitute ingredients that will allow you to enjoy familiar foods, such as pizza, bread, and muffins. You no longer have to deprive yourself of good-tasting, satisfying food! Typical substitutions for grains containing gluten include rice flour, cornmeal, quinoa, and potato starches. When you’re shopping for food, be sure to spend some time in the “health food” aisle – this is usually the best place to find prepared snacks, brown rice pastas, and other safe products.
Initially, these diets were prescribed to combat the effects of celiac disease…this immune disorder inhibits the proper digestion of glutens. Symptoms of celiac disease include rashes, fatigue, mood swings, gas, and pain in the stomach. Over time, even those who were not diagnosed with celiac disease began to recognize the stress and harm that gluten can cause in the human body. After all, wheat is one of the most common allergens in the modern diet – it can also be quite difficult to digest. These days, there are thousands of recipes and tips for everyone who wants to explore the possibilities of going gluten free…
Gluten isn’t just found in typical flour products – it can lurk in some unexpected places. Bouillon cubes, soy sauces and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins are found in many foods, and all of these are likely to contain harmful glutens. Getting the hang of going gluten free is all about knowledge and education – you’ll need to understand that even small amounts of gluten will cause a reaction and hinder your efforts to get healthy. As a rule of thumb, most canned soups, noodles, and boxes of cookies should be avoided. Even vinaigrettes, such as commercial salad dressings, can harbor the glutens you’re trying so hard to stay away from. Sometimes, making your own meals from scratch is really the best and healthiest strategy. Even foods marked, “gluten-free” may be subject to cross-contamination from other foods. Therefore, how and where food is prepared is very important.
A diet that is rich in lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables is often the ideal choice for a gluten-free diet. Potatoes, rice, and quinoa can provide extra carbohydrates for greater satiety. Cheeses and eggs are also great choices for mealtimes – neither of these products contains gluten. Seasonings should be free of vinegars and MSG (monosodium glutamate) – olive oil, lemon juice, and spices are safe to use and provide lots of options for sauces and salad dressings.
Dining out can be a little tricky – however, many popular chain restaurants, such as Chili’s, offer a list of gluten-free entrees and side dishes you can use to make healthier choices. If you’re eating out and you can’t find a special, gluten-free menu, consider ordering a basic and burger and fries – minus the bun! Or choose a baked potato or rice for a side dish, along with a piece of grilled meat or fish.
Other popular restaurants that cater to gluten-free clients include: Subway (salads and dressings, not sandwiches) The Old Spaghetti Factory (gluten free pastas and sauces), and Boston Market (their rotisserie chicken and Southwest Santa Fe salads are safe choices for gluten-free diets). Don’t be afraid to ask servers about gluten-free dishes – chances are, they’ve answered these questions before. If a server doesn’t have the answer, they can probably check with the chef or restaurant manager to get an answer.
If you suffer from celiac disease, the ingestion of gluten is hampering your body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. If you’re allergic to wheat or just intolerant to foods containing gluten, you may be weary of the tiredness, bloating and gastrointestinal distress they bring. Removing all glutens from your diet is really the only way to feel better – once you’ve started this important lifestyle change, you may notice you have less mental fogginess and more energy – you may also lose weight as you cut gluten-rich carbs out of your daily diet.