Life may seem unfair to the people intolerant to gluten. A few of my close friends reveal that they feel as if they have given up everything they loved to eat, and it is this thought that makes them more disappointed than the actual diet.
For those uninitiated to gluten, gluten is a protein commonly found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Consumption of gluten in some individuals triggers their immune system to respond in ways that damages the lining of the small intestine, resulting in a disease condition called celiac disease and a sure shot management for the condition is to avoid all food products that contain gluten.
However hard following this may sound, maintaining such a diet is not so difficult after all. Once you get the hang of it, it is completely doable, with the feeling of missing out on stuff eventually fading away. You just need a little will power and some tips on how to easily keep up with a gluten-free diet. And that’s what we are here for.
Let’s get started.
Eat natural alternatives
There are many food groups which are naturally gluten-free. They are not only self-sufficient and cost-effective, but also delectable. These are:
- Meat and poultry
- Beans, legumes, and nuts
- Dairy products including cheese and yogurt
These wholesome food groups can sustain you on a healthy and tasty diet for a lifetime. Your gluten-free expanded list may also include rice, corn, flax, millet, quinoa, tapioca and soy.
Just be careful at the time of buying grains to eliminate the probability of these grains coming in cross-contact with gluten-containing grains. To avoid this, don’t purchase grains from bulk bins where everything is harvested, processed and stored together. Any local supermarket or specialty health food store should be fine.
Also, it is very important for your diet to be based around these food items for a healthier recovery. Make sure to consume about half a plate of fruits and vegetable, a quarter of starches, and a quarter of animal protein in every meal. It might take some getting used to in the beginning, but once you are in it, you are sure to discover the joys of green salads and colorful mixed vegetables.
Think about it, this the easiest and healthiest way of sticking to a gluten-free diet. You just have to figure out what kind of variety to cook from these items and you’re set for your gluten-free days. But, most people find it difficult to adapt without some other food items, which is where our next point comes in.
2. Next up, gluten-free substitutes
Asking someone to not eat something makes them want it even more, even when they were never particularly fond of the dish in the first place. How many ayes for this statement? I think whoever is reading it, would respond with a resounding YES. This is human psyche after all, and how long can one resist it. Also, it’s only natural to want to eat fancier stuff once in a while.
And in such situations there are always food substitutes. To maintain this diet people often rely on gluten-free bread, gluten–free flour and gluten-free cereal.
The key here is to shop carefully. While these alternatives should be commonly available, don’t mistake wheat-free food items for gluten-free food items. Such gaffes can land you in trouble. Read the labels and all ingredients before getting anything billed. Here are some things to keep in mind while buying certain products:
- When buying grains, check if they are tested for gluten. Anything containing less than 20 ppm of gluten is safe for consumption.
- Watch out for small things like granola bars that contain oats which is usually gluten-contaminated, unless the product is specifically labeled gluten-free. And if you are able to get your hands on pure oats, nothing like it.
- Soups and sauces sadly contain wheat in them as a thickening agent. You would want to avoid any cream-based preparation.
- The good news is that drinking is not as limiting as eating because most beverages like juices and aerated drinks are gluten-free. As far as alcohol is concerned, while wine and other hard liquor is gluten-free, beer, ale and malt are not distilled and thus, contain gluten.
In case of medicines, you might want to consult your doctor at the time of checkup. Some vitamin tablets contain gluten and can increase the chances of a health hazard. You can find gluten-free alternatives to all the items listed above. There are companies that are solely dedicated to producing gluten-free materials, and you can buy their specialized products directly online.
3. Cook instead of eating out
Look at this as an opportunity to improve your cooking skills. It is much easier to cook for yourself than to scourge for gluten-free food outside. Use the natural food groups we were talking about earlier, and make large servings of meat or vegetable-based dishes for yourself.
Take the help of cook books and YouTube to specialize in splendid gluten-free meals. Opt for desserts like fruit yogurt instead of cakes and pastries. You can also consult a dietician regarding how you should plan your meals in order to lose out the minimum on taste and variety, and still consume a nutritionally balanced diet.
One way to achieve this is to kick start the gluten-free lifestyle with customized meal plans and easy-to-make, on-the-go snacks. You can pack gluten-free quick fixes when leaving the house, so you don’t have to worry about finding food outside.
Further, make a list of pre-prepared food items that you can and can’t eat and put it on your refrigerator. This will remind you to eat healthy and avoid any potential pitfalls. And no cheating, biscuits and sausages go in the ‘can’t eat’ list.
Goes without saying, prevent contamination in your kitchen and keep gluten-free staples in separate containers.
It takes certain individuals some time to begin feeling confident about their food choices, and that’s completely normal. Please don’t get overwhelmed by all the gluten around you and don’t stick to a single food item out of paranoia.
Learn to let go, you can gain new favorites along the way. Giving in to momentary guilty pleasures will only make matters worse. This is not to say be hard on yourself. You can get in touch with a support group for moral support and benefit from the mutual knowledge exchange. While cutting out gluten from your diet might seem limiting in some ways, it is not something you can’t cope with.
Hope this blog answered most of your doubts pertaining to gluten. If you continue to have doubts and questions regarding a gluten-free diet, it is better to consult a doctor without delay.