How do you begin a gluten free diet?

Author Name
Answered by: Yasmin, An Expert in the Coping with Celiac Disease Category
People recently diagnosed with celiac disease are lucky – eating a gluten free diet is touted as one of the most healthy lifestyle adjustments, endorsed by both doctors and fit celebrities alike. As a result, gluten free products are available at most health food stores and, depending on your locale, many mainstream supermarkets.

While many avoid gluten by choice, celiac sufferers must do so to treat their disease. Gluten is a protein found in many grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye, and is hostile to the digestive systems of those diagnosed with celiac disease. Currently, the only treatment is a strict diet without gluten.

This diet may have been rather difficult to adhere 20 years ago, but today you can make the transition to a gluten free diet without too much fuss. An estimated 1% of Americans suffer from celiac disease and it’s suggested that 83% of sufferers are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions. Around 6 to 7% of the population is thought to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Around 29% of Americans say that they are trying to avoid gluten for health reasons. Clearly there’s a demand for gluten free options.

Going gluten free doesn’t look too different from any other diet. There are many different substitutes available for your favorite wheat-based foods, such as brown rice pasta or gluten free pizza crust. Many bars even serve sorghum beer or hard cider as an alternative to beers brewed with wheat or barley. Other items you may have enjoyed prior to a celiac diagnosis include rice, potatoes, fresh fruits and veggies, among many other items. Those are all still fair game.

Gluten is often hidden in many processed foods. Companies find many uses for the protein and, unlike many other allergens, they are not required by the FDA to label it on their packaging. It is incredibly important to thoroughly read the ingredients of anything you are not preparing from scratch. Avoid anything with “modified food starch” or “cellulose” as those often come from wheat.

Restaurants may pose a problem for those with extreme sensitivities to gluten. Get comfortable with asking a lot of questions. Waitstaff may balk but it’s for your own good. While many establishments provide gluten free menus, not everyone is educated about the nuances of celiac disease and it’s still important to inform your server about your dietary restrictions. Ask if the french fries are fried in the same oil as everything else or if there is a dedicated gluten free grill. It may seem uncomfortable at first but in the long run, you will thank yourself for putting your health at the top of your priorities.

Lastly, plan ahead! There are many times when you will be unable to access gluten-free foods and you don’t want to be left hungry! Bring snacks with you. Do your research before going on vacation – see if the local cuisine is celiac-friendly. Call restaurants ahead of time to make sure they can accommodate you. If you work somewhere with ample snacks, notify your employers. If you really feel like you’re struggling, consider enlisting the services of a registered dietician.

Author Name Like My Writing? Hire Me to Write For You!

Related Questions