Gluten is the protein found in flour, wheat, rye, sauces and starches, but it’s a major dietary issue for millions of people around the world. Whether you have celiac disease, digestive problems or joint pain, a gluten-free diet may be what you need to live a healthier life. A health care professional can help you identify a gluten sensitivity before you cut it out from your diet completely.
Reasons to Go Gluten-Free
• Gluten-free is a lifestyle, not a weight-loss diet.
• It helps those suffering from celiac disease, an auto-immune disease that makes the body unable to process and digest fat properly.
• Gluten-free is a good dietary choice for Down’s syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, wheat allergies, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, anemia, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes
• If you suffer from chronic fatigue, constipation, painful bowel movements, gas, joint pain, dental issues (e.g., stripped enamel) or have a history of miscarriages, those are indications a gluten-free diet may be better for you.
• Gluten-free eating can help certain people with restore health, improve mental clarity and enjoy a pain-free body.
• Eliminating gluten entirely from your diet can allow you to lose 10 lbs. in a month because you’ll be cutting out most guilty pleasure foods.
• It’ll decrease the amount of hard work and pressure on your digestive system.
• You may see better skin, a leaner physique and stronger defense against illness.
Where Gluten is Found
• Wheat, rye, barley and some oats
• Processed foods of all kinds (unless it’s gluten-free) including chips, crackers, sandwiches, cookies, meat products, fish, ice cream and breads
• Anything that contains additives or preservatives
• Pasta, alcohol, candy, French fries, beer, pie, cakes, soup, salad dressings (unless marked gluten-free) vegetable sauce, and lunch meats
• ANY foods that include the statement “may contain wheat”
How to Easily Go Gluten-Free
• Health food stores now have many gluten-free brands! You can still enjoy pizza, bread, deli meat and cookies.
• Trade out any cereal containing malt or bran for corn-based varieties.
• Swap regular pasta for rice noodles
• Become an expert at reading labels. Look for anything that claims to have wheat or wheat products, malt, rye, etc.
• Many crackers won’t be gluten-free, but thankfully popcorn is.
• Plan ahead to prepare gluten-free recipes at home, and bring them along to work for lunch.
Gluten-Free Foods That Taste Great
• Eat potatoes, rice, eggs, chickpeas, legumes, fresh fruit and vegetables, unprocessed meats (including seafood), cheese, dried fruit, olive oil and nuts.
• Freely use jam, jelly, and honey for something sweet to eat
• Drink tea or fresh-squeezed orange juice.
• Enjoy water with apple, watermelon or cucumber slices.
• Dairy products are allowed – just limit your consumption to one 8-ounce glass a day.
• Instead of grains, go with soy, cornmeal, flaxseed, chia seeds, quinoa, arrowroot, buckwheat, teff and tapioca.
• Rather than breaded and fried meats, coat them with coconut oil and seasoning before baking or grilling.
The Bottom Line . . .
A gluten-free diet can cure your abdominal and digestive problems, not to mention solve your skin disorders (even when it’s hereditary!). Think of gluten-free not as a diet, but a lifestyle, and it will become a manageable and great way to live your life. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist to see if gluten-free is the best meal plan for you.