Are you thinking about going gluten free? It could be a better choice for you … or not. Whether you choose to avoid gluten because you have to (allergy, intolerance), it was recommended (sensitivity or as part of a medical protocol), or because you just want to see what all the buzz is about – your gluten free diet better be full of better nutrition!
If you’ve been diagnosed with a gluten allergy or sensitivity, or you simply want to try out a gluten free diet, starting can seem overwhelming. The good news is that transitioning to a gluten-free lifestyle doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think.
Whether you’re just beginning to explore gluten free living or you’re ready to commit, I’ve got you covered. In this post, I’ll cover the basics of starting a gluten free diet, including how to make the transition, and what to eat for healthy and delicious meals. So, grab a gluten free snack, and let’s get started!
Do You Even Need A Gluten Free Diet
But, first do a little soul-searching and see if you really even need a gluten free diet. Ask yourself the following questions to get a better idea if this may be the right option for you.
1. Where are you currently getting in gluten (food, supplements, beverages, skincare)? Not sure? Gluten is a protein found in whole grains – the acronym BROW helps – Barley, Rye, Oats & Wheat. While there are gluten free oats, there are no gluten free versions of these other grains.
Gluten free grains include rice (stay away from refined white rice), millet, corn, quinoa, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, sorghum, and some oats. Wheat is commonly found in bread, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings, and roux. Barley is often found in malt. food coloring, soups, beer, and Brewer’s yeast. You get rye from rye bread, rye beer, and cereals.
2. Are you overdoing it on gluten? You may not be allergic or intolerant (tests determine this) but your intake may not be better and could be leading to irritation. Could you swap some gluten-free choices for non-gluten-containing ones like rice, buckwheat (not gluten even though there is “wheat” in the name!), quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc? Could you choose products that don’t contain wheat or gluten as ingredients (binders, flavors, etc.)?
3. Are you blaming your digestive issues on gluten? Digestive issues are the body’s way of telling you it is unhappy or alerting you that things are not better. Yes you can remove gluten, and you might feel better, but are you addressing the actual issue?
4. Are you overdoing it on carbs – both gluten and gluten-free? One reason people like gluten-free (and see results) is it forces them to reduce their total carb/grain/flour intake. Evaluate your daily intake of carbs including the quality and quantity as well as how your body responds to the different forms and amounts. Try upgrading your nutrition from flour sources (crackers, bread, some cereals, and bars) to whole grains, and learn the portion sizes for better quantity, more often.
Better Gluten Free Diet Swaps
For most of us, it matters as much what your diet is full of as what it is free from… so make your gluten-free choices better gluten free nutrition, more often.
1. Swap gluten-containing foods for starchy and non-starchy vegetables to help you get in a rainbow more often. All the colors do different things that your body needs. Want to find out if you’re getting in all the colors you need? Get my Rainbow Evaluation and learn if you’re getting a rainbow every day.
2. You need fiber, minerals, and plant proteins. Hemp seeds are a versatile, nutrient-rich, gluten-free food that can help you reach your goals. Also, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, chia seeds, lentils, almonds, and of course, fruits and veggies are high-fiber gluten free choices.
3. If you are working to heal your body whether, from gluten or a disease or health issue, better quality for what goes in and on your body most often is critical to support the healing process. Choose USDA organic more often for food, beverages, supplements, and even the cotton in your underclothes and sheets to reduce exposure to chemical residues that can disrupt, irritate and overwhelm the body’s healing efforts.
4. Confirm that your supplements are gluten-free and deliver your body what it needs to run better, more often.
5 If you need to avoid gluten for medical reasons like celiac or an autoimmune disease, it is essential to remember that your nutrition includes what goes in and on your body, so that means looking at your skincare, beauty, and even your laundry and cleaning products as they may be ones your skin comes in contact with quite frequently. Consider essential oils and wool dryer balls versus dryer sheets or use better beauty products that clearly identify as gluten free.
In conclusion, starting a gluten free diet is no easy feat. It requires a lot of research, patience, and a willingness to try new things. But the payoff can be huge! If you suffer from celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or just feel generally unwell after eating gluten, going gluten free can be life-changing.
However, if you’re not in any of those categories, there’s no need to jump on the bandwagon. You do you, boo. Before starting, make sure to assess your diet and any supplements you take to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs.
And remember, just because it’s labeled gluten free doesn’t always mean it’s healthy (looking at you, gluten-free cupcakes). So, take it slow, have fun with it, and who knows, you might even discover a new favorite food!
Still confused about all this gluten free diet stuff. Maybe you need someone to serve as your guide down the gluten free pathway. I’d be honored to help you cut through the maze of confusion out there in the diet world. If this resonates with you, check out my 3-Month Signature Coaching Bundle. It may be just what you need to get started on a gluten free diet.
If you found this helpful, you may be interested in a recent post I did on The Top 5 Diets For Autoimmune Disease. Here’s a little taste.
- The Keto Diet. The ketogenic diet is another popular choice for people looking to manage or even reverse their autoimmune disorder symptoms. On a ketogenic diet, the body’s metabolism of fat instead of carbohydrate as its preferred source of energy produces ketone bodies. The goal is to stay in “ketosis” by adjusting your macronutrient intake (carbs, proteins, fats) to ensure the production of those ketones. Before starting any diet, especially one that encourages elimination or severe reduction of nutrients, you should talk to your doctor or dietitian about your current health, and any medications, and make sure that your ketogenic diet delivers your body what it needs.
- The Anti – Inflammatory Diet. Got aches and pains, an auto-immune disease, or want better nutrition to promote better health? Your body has an inflammatory system, and when it runs better, so do you. The anti-inflammatory diet is exactly what it sounds like—a type of diet focused on reducing inflammation through nutrition alone. This type of diet eliminates processed foods, alcohol, dairy products, sugar, gluten, soy products, nightshade vegetables (such as peppers or tomatoes), caffeine, and other inflammatory triggers from your daily meals while focusing on fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables as well as healthy proteins like fish or lean meats. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body which can lead to improved symptoms associated with autoimmune disease.
- The AIP Diet (Autoimmune Protocol). This diet is like the paleo diet, but it eliminates certain foods – like nightshades (such as potatoes and tomatoes) – that could further trigger inflammation in those with autoimmune disorders. It also emphasizes the importance of gut health by including probiotics or fermented foods in the diet and removing inflammatory agents such as processed sugars and unhealthy fats from the menu. This stricter approach reduces inflammation more quickly than a paleo approach alone but requires more dedication from its followers.
***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***