Contemplating jumping on the gluten free diet train? Already gluten free but in need of a brush up on eating gluten free? Don’t worry, a gluten free diet, though it can be challenging, isn’t hard to follow. There are now many gluten free pasta and breads available at specialty stores and you can, of course, make your own gluten free bread or pasta at home. The goal of a gluten free diet is to remove protein gluten from the diet. This gluten is found in a couple key foods, which must be cut out of the diet completely.
The good news about a gluten free diet is the list of things you can eat is longer than the few things you should avoid. There are really only four things you absolutely must avoid:
- Barley (and it’s derivative malt)
- Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
Unfortunately, ingredient lists aren’t always that straight forward. Wheat has quite a few derivatives that are often used in commercial ingredients, but that might not be listed as â€œwheat.â€ Just because an item is described as a â€œwheat alternativeâ€ does not mean that it is gluten free. You should avoid any foods containing the following ingredients, all created from wheat with gluten still intact:
- spelt (often labeled “wheat alternative,” spelt is still full of gluten)
- durum (also spelled duram)
- cake flour
Vigilance is one of the few ways you can be sure some gluten doesn’t sneak its way into your diet. Items bearing the label â€œwheatâ€ should be treated with particular care. Other items you should avoid or treat with care:
- Food additives such as malt extract or flavoring, modified food starch, and others
- Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent
- Play dough
Contamination is another way gluten can sneak into your diet. Doctors and dieticians generally recommend that anyone following a gluten free diet avoid eating oats, unless they are specifically labeled gluten free, since they can be easily contaminated while being processed. If you do not live in a gluten free household, be aware the food can become contaminated if you use the same surface areas or utensils that weren’t thoroughly cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing food.
Maintaining a gluten free diet doesn’t have to be challenging or difficult. Attitude has a lot to do with your gluten free eating experience. Focus on the numerous things you can eat and look at your diet change as an opportunity to take control of your eating habits. Eating whole foods with few or no additives is the easiest way to prevent gluten from slipping into your diet, and it’s generally accepted to be a healthier way to eat.
Stick to foods labeled gluten free or whole foods that can’t contain gluten, like vegetables and eggs, and you’ll be fine. Going gluten free is a great way to explore new foods! Check out FaveGlutenFreeRecipes.com to find something new to try out.