Does the idea of eating gluten free make you cringe because of the foreseeable agony it will surely cause you? You may feel short on the time you need to do it. You may not know where to begin. Or maybe you’ve tried it before and just need some fresh ideas to make it easier.
Eating gluten free doesn’t have to be a downer. And for some, it’s a must.
So read up and breathe easier – maybe literally since going gluten free may relieve your allergies like it has mine.
What foods do you need to avoid when eating gluten free?
Inhale. First, know that all wheat products contain gluten. This includes farro, kamut, barley, rye and spelt.
But you will also find gluten in these other grains and ingredients: bulgur, couscous, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, graham, matzo, semolina, wheat germ, wheat starch, some caramel color, “stabilizers,” “flavors”, “colors” and bouillon.
Unfortunately, many sauces, condiments and soups contain gluten, because it’s a thickening agent. And it’s in many lunchmeats.
Finally, because many grains are processed using the same equipment, rice or oat products may not start out with gluten in them. But after being processed on equipment used for wheat, they end up with pieces of gluten-containing wheat in them.
What in the world can you eat instead, when eating gluten free?
And exhale. While you will need to avoid standard wheat products and even those with “ancient grains”, you can opt for breads or crackers with the gluten-free (GF) label.
I suggest choosing products with the “GF” label as well as the “USDA Organic” or “Non-GMO Project Verified” label. Otherwise, you may end up with certain brands that though gluten-free, may contain modified food starch and other not-so desirable ingredients.
Ditto this for sauces and condiments. And for gluten-free soups and salad dressings. In fact, consider making your own. My go-to homemade gluten-free salad dressing is a 1:1 mixture of raw, organic apple cider vinegar and organic extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper, whisked with a fork. I make extra and have it on hand, shaking it before each use. Add lemon, lime or other gluten-free spices as you wish.
If you eat chips, cereal or anything else made of corn, make sure they are labeled gluten-free and organic.
When baking, choose flours from other gluten-free sources including: amaranth, arrowroot, GF rice, GF oats, buckwheat, cassava, nut flours, potato, quinoa, tapioca or yucca. Find a more extensive list of options on page 50 of my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways, as well as many more ideas of how to fill the gluten void throughout your day.
Want more ideas?
- Boar’s Head and some other deli meats are gluten free.
- Use large lettuce, kale or kohlrabi leaves instead of sandwich bread. Consider using zucchini or sweet potato slices (somewhat firm) for buns or noodles (with help of spiralizer).
- Sweet potatoes became key to me, to help me fill fuller without all the grains. I didn’t use to like them, until I had them sliced and on the grill. Also try them mashed, sautéed or roasted in the oven with a little cinnamon.
- Add other starchier vegetables such as kohlrabi and cauliflower (riced, mashed, as hummus). Eat more peas, beans and potatoes if you digest them well.
- For an occasional gluten-free grain as a side, choose gluten-free rice or quinoa, which is technically a fruit!
- When snacking on the run, grab some raw veggies or fruits you cut ahead of time. Grab a handful of nuts or plantain chips. Make your own paleo crackers or snack bars ahead of time or buy GF versions in stores.
- Sweet potatoes and paleo sausage make a great breakfast. Look for a good gluten-free flour (I buy this one) for your pancake cravings, or make one of my favorites, paleo pumpkin pancakes. The pumpkin adds fiber and makes them more filling than regular pancakes!
- Instead of your usual cereal, opt for gluten-free oats or quinoa, made even tastier with fresh fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, nuts, flax seed and so much more.
Don’t let the idea of eating gluten free freak you out! You have so many options, many of which may pleasantly surprise you.
It will take more time and some planning up front. So does building a new deck, playing a new board game, using a new TV and so on. But you are worth it. And it will become natural to you after a little practice.
Eating gluten free can open up a whole new world of foods to you. (Just Google “paleo” anything for a truckload of ideas.) Avoiding gluten may open up a new realm of health and energy for you, too. Embrace the opportunity, get creative and enjoy!
*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.