Going gluten-free can feel rather overwhelming at first. As a parent of a child with Celiac Disease, I know firsthand what it’s like.
Being told you need to cut gluten from your diet is likely going to mean you have to stop eating your favorite dishes as you once knew them. And you’re certainly going to spend much more time studying ingredient labels to ensure something is safe for you to consume.
But, as I’ve slowly realized, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world! Going gluten-free is manageable.
You simply need to know how to make it work for you and your family. To help you out, I’m sharing six tips I’ve learned from experience for going gluten-free to make the transition is as easy as possible…
1. Make a List of All the Ingredients You Need to Avoid
Many people are mistaken in thinking that cutting out gluten means you only need to eliminate wheat from your diet. There are actually a number of other ingredients that have gluten as well, which you’ll need to avoid if you’re going gluten-free.
Besides wheat, you’ll need to avoid derivatives of wheat like wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelled, farina, farro, and graham. You’ll also have to say goodbye to rye, barley, triticale, malt (malt vinegar, malt syrup, malt extract, etc.), Brewer’s Yeast, and wheat starch.
It’s a lot to keep in mind, so it’s smart to keep a list of the ingredients you need to avoid. That way, you can take it with you when you’re doing your grocery shopping. Then, you’ll be able to check the ingredients list and see for yourself if something is safe for you to consume.
2. Find Gluten-Free Alternatives to Your Favorite Foods
Are you worried about giving up your favorite foods now that you’re going gluten-free? Well, guess what? You don’t need to panic! With so many companies out there catering to a gluten-free lifestyle, you can actually find so many of your favorite foods in gluten-free form. And in many cases, they still taste just as great as what you’re used to.
If you’re a pizza lover, like my kids are, going gluten-free doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy a slice again. You can actually get a gluten-free crust instead. Many are made out of a combination of rice flours or you can try a cauliflower crust for a boost in veggies.
Can’t resist a bowl of pasta after a long day at work? There are tons of gluten-free pasta options out there! You can find some that are made from corn and rice, which taste just like the real deal made with wheat. There are also black bean pasta, chickpea pasta, and lentil pasta. Of course, you can also make zoodles by spiralizing a zucchini.
3. Remember That Many Foods Are Naturally Gluten-Free
When you start thinking about all the foods you’ll have to cut out of your diet, it might feel a little scary at first.
But the good news is, many of the foods you’re currently eating are naturally gluten-free and won’t even need to be cut from your diet.
This includes fruits, vegetables, meats, and nuts (to name a few).
4. Try a Gluten-Free Meal Delivery Service
If you’re new to the gluten-free lifestyle, you might not know exactly how to get started. When we found out that my son was Celiac, I certainly felt like I was in the dark. It meant that I needed to basically start from scratch in terms of cooking.
If you feel this way, the good news is, there are a number of gluten-free meal delivery services that can make this transition a little easier for you while still allowing you to enjoy delicious foods.
We ended up using a service called Sun Basket, which sends gluten-free ingredients and recipes. This allowed us to learn how to cook meals that actually taste good without using gluten. It turned out to be a fun family experience.
5. Stock-Up on Pre-Made Gluten-Free Snacks to Always Have on Hand
We’re lucky that it’s become easier to find gluten-free foods at our local grocery stores. There are many brands today that are dedicated to providing delicious gluten-free treats. And there are other brands who have taken to labeling gluten-free foods as such, so customers can easily identify them and know they’re safe to eat.
However, it doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to find nutritious gluten-free snacks when you need them. When that happens, it doesn’t mean you have to go hungry or give in to eating gluten that’s going to make you feel uncomfortable later.
Instead, stock up on your favorite pre-made gluten-free snacks so you’ll always have them on hand. A few of our favorite gluten-free brands are “Glutino” and “Schaer” because their gluten-free snacks are a bit healthier.
These can be snacks you make yourself or something you’ve picked up at the store. By keeping them in the kitchen and stashing them in the bag before you head out the door, you’ll rest easy knowing it’s always there when you need it.
6. Be Aware of Cross-Contamination With Gluten
One of the things that many people don’t think about when going gluten-free is how they need to be careful of cross-contamination. If you have a severe allergy to gluten, even trace amounts of it can cause problems for your digestive system and your body overall. And you’ll want to prevent that from happening so you can avoid any discomfort.
When cooking at home, you’ll want to have separate pans for cooking gluten and gluten-free meals. Sometimes just cleaning these pans isn’t enough, so have dedicated pans for your gluten-free foods and label them to keep them separate from the others.
You’ll also want to make sure you thoroughly wipe down any countertops where gluten may have been present. And of course, never put a gluten and gluten-free dish in the over together because that can cause cross-contamination as well.
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