Getting stuck with a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
A seemingly harmless protein, gluten is found in wheat, oats, barley, and rye. Harmless a protein as it may seem, gluten wreaks havoc on the digestive systems of people who are living with celiac disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease, avoiding gluten will prevent the intestinal inflammation and other complications that accompany the disease.
What can you do to pull the gluten out of your diet without going hungry?
Understand the Dangers
Eating even a small amount of gluten can cause substantial side effects if you’re living with celiac disease. To avoid all traces of gluten, you’ll need to study food and drink labels carefully. Ingredients to be wary of include graham flour, spelt, triticale, farina, durham, barley, kamut, matzo meal, semolina, rye, bulgur, and wheat.
Additionally, you’ll want to keep away from many products that aren’t labeled as being gluten-free. These include a variety of pastas, salad dressings, soups, beers, crackers, croutons, cakes, cookies, candies, pies, sauces, breads, and processed lunchmeats. If these or any other foods were produced in a factory that processes other foods that contain gluten, beware!
Stock the Cupboard
Now that you know what you can’t eat, you may be wondering what is safe to consume when you’re on a gluten-free diet. Thankfully, the list is just as impressive. Safe foods that you can enjoy despite problems with gluten include just about anything made with corn (this includes pure corn tortillas, cornmeal, and corn flour), polenta, rice, buckwheat, amaranth, and hominy grits.
If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, maybe this will. While you may be allergic to gluten, your body can properly handle some of your favorite foods, including fresh meats, fish, and poultry; the majority of dairy products; wine, ciders, and distilled liquors; potatoes; fruits; and vegetables.
Learning how to follow a gluten-free diet is no easy task. When you first begin your new diet, you may feel that every food under the sun contains some amount of gluten. As a result, you may feel depressed and start to think that avoiding gluten altogether is impossible. But don’t give in! With some time and research, you can learn how to live a gluten-free lifestyle and feel full after eating.
Need a little help making it happen? Find others in your area that are dealing with the same issue and put your heads and recipes together! Many communities have celiac support groups, so find one in your area to join. If there is not one nearby, join one online or start one on your own. Once word gets out that you’ve started a celiac support group, you’ll be amazed at how many people in your immediate community are dealing with the same condition.
Beware False Advertisements
In recent years, a number of food companies have decided to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon. Unfortunately, there is no regulatory body that has currently stood up and defined what is required for a food to be labeled as gluten-free. In other words, there is no clear definition of what gluten-free is, which allows manufacturers to say their products are gluten-free when they really aren’t.
So what’s this mean for you if you’re living with celiac disease and can’t consume gluten? You have a choice. You can call food manufacturers to find out if their products truly are gluten-free or if they have trace amounts or even unknown amounts of gluten in them. Or you can avoid any type of food that could possibly contain gluten. The latter may seem a stretch, but your body will benefit from the additional fruits and vegetables you’ll eat with this diet. And you get to enjoy life, knowing you’re not coming in contact with gluten in your foods.