Invest in Yourself
Gluten-free diets have become popular in recent years, with an increasing number of people experiencing intolerance or sensitivity to foods containing gluten. Symptoms of gluten intolerance vary from one person to the next, but digestive disturbances, headaches, lethargy, and depression are among the most common problems linked to gluten. If you’re considering switching to a gluten-free diet, here are 5 top tips for getting started.
1- Learn About Food Labels
Most manufacturers include a detailed list of ingredients on their food packaging, enabling you to make informed choices about the food you eat. While gluten is most commonly found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley, there are many different names for these grains and their derivatives. Durum, kamut, malt, hydrolyzed wheat protein, matzo, semolina, and triticale are among the many different names used for foods containing gluten. Learning about food labels and how to spot gluten in the list of ingredients is essential for a gluten-free diet.
2- Beware of Cross-Contamination
Cross-contamination occurs when naturally gluten-free foods come into contact with wheat, rye, barley or other foods containing gluten. Depending on the level of sensitivity or intolerance, some people experience a negative reaction to cross-contaminated foods containing even the smallest traces of gluten. Naturally gluten-free grains, such as oats, are often contaminated with gluten during the growing and manufacturing process. Fortunately, some food manufacturers now grow and produce oats and other easily-contaminated grains specifically to ensure no contact with gluten. Always check the labels carefully for advice on cross-contamination.
3- Plan Ahead when Eating Out
Eating out can be difficult when sticking to a gluten-free diet, as many restaurants don’t provide a detailed list of ingredients for their dishes. Cross-contamination can also cause problems when chefs prepare all the dishes in the same area. However, some restaurants now provide gluten-free options, while others are happy to accommodate special dietary needs if you let them know in advance. Plan ahead and ask restaurants if they are able to cater to specific needs.
Many foods and grains are naturally free from gluten and can be used to replace wheat, rye, and barley when cooking popular dishes. Potato flour, cornflour, arrowroot, and other starches offer tasty alternatives to regular flour, while potato or rice dishes can replace pasta and other wheat-based foods. Experiment with different ingredients and try new foods to ensure a varied and balanced diet.
5- Try Gluten-Free Substitutes
Many food stores now stock a wide range of gluten-free alternatives to popular foods, such as pasta, bread, cakes, biscuits, and crackers. The taste and quality of gluten-free products can vary greatly, depending on the ingredients and manufacturing process used, so you may need to try several varieties before finding something you like.
Understandably, switching to a gluten-free diet is not easy and in addition, nutritional deficiencies can develop when sticking to a restrictive diet, so it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods and gluten-free grains. Furthermore, a gluten-free diet can become pricey to maintain. However, switching to a gluten-free diet can eliminate or reduce long-term health complaints and help boost energy levels. Invest in yourself, your good health is worth it!