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Choosing to go on a gluten-free diet is a challenge—we’re looking at a lifestyle change here—where you’ll be foregoing a lot of the usual food you grew up loving.
For some, this diet is more than a life choice—it’s a necessity. For instance, if you’ve just been diagnosed with celiac disease, you would have to make quick lifestyle (and dietary) adjustments right away. For others, it could be that you’d like to give it a try, hoping a gluten-free diet would make you lose weight, maybe alleviate some chronic body pains, and maybe feel better overall.
We know making the switch isn’t easy, and if you choose to take this journey (whether you have to or not), you’ll want all the help and support you can get your hands on. Try to work with the guidance of a doctor or dietician specializing in a gluten-free lifestyle. Network with other like-minded people within your circle, and always keep on learning more from books, as well as videos, podcasts, mobile apps, and online communities.
Here’s an overview of the sort of foods you should be having if you want to go totally gluten-free, according to the above-mentioned infographic by MedAlertHelp.
Which foods should you avoid?
Anything that has wheat, barley, or rye is now officially off your list.
This covers a lot of the regular, commercially available, grocery store-variety food including most breads, cakes, doughnuts, snacks, pastries, candies, pasta, and such.
Be particularly careful, however, as gluten tends to lurk in flavorings, seasonings, mixes, as well as personal care items, cosmetics, and medication. Trace amounts of gluten can also be found via cross-contamination when certain gluten-free foods are mixed, or improperly handled.
What can you have instead?
Fruits and Vegetables
In general, fresh fruits and vegetables—those sold at the produce section in the supermarket—should be okay, and you really should load up on them. Canned fruit and veggies should be fine as well, as long as they’re single-ingredient items.
Poultry, Meat, and Fish
Unprocessed fresh meat, poultry, and fish can likewise be part of your diet. Watch out for packaged meats and processed meats like sausages, deli products, bacon, etc., as these may contain gluten (check the labels to be certain).
Milk and Dairy
Fresh milk, eggs, butter, plain yogurt, and most cheeses are gluten-free. Beware of artificially-flavored varieties of milk, yogurt, ice cream, and puddings as these may contain gluten.
Gluten-Free Bread, Snacks, Cereal, and Pasta
You know the gluten-free lifestyle is getting more popular as a lot of brands—both from large multinationals and small niche-market operations—carry the “gluten-free” label. This means you now have more alternatives to regular wheat-, barley-, or rye-based foods.
Other carbs like rice, potatoes, corn, and quinoa can be part of your daily consumption, as well as most nuts, beans, peas, and legumes.
Condiments and Spices
Many everyday staples like relish, mayonnaise, and mustard are generally okay. Fresh herbs and spices are always the best, but anything else, be particularly wary and make checking food labels a habit.
Again, gluten has been found to be hiding in many traditional sauces, condiments, and flavorings. Soy sauce, for example, has been historically notorious for having gluten, but you now have gluten-free specialty brands out in the market as well.
Drinks and Beverages
Water should be your obvious first choice. Unflavored coffee and green or black tea are OK as well. A lot of sodas and soft drinks are considered gluten-free, but you should always check your labels just to be sure.
As far as alcoholic beverages are concerned, wine is your best bet (not the flavored variety!), as well as vodka, tequila, and rum. On the other hand, note that beer is most likely to contain gluten when it comes to alcoholic beverages.
Knowing what you can eat and what you should be avoiding is crucial in keeping things according to plan with your new life changes.
With so many available gluten-free options out in the market now, this lifestyle is clearly becoming more popular than ever. There are a lot of available substitutes now for even the more common food items such as breads, pastas, pastries, snacks, and candy.
Thanks to the rise of niche-market health brands and online shopping, you now have a lot more choices, making the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle easier than ever before.