Over the last few years I’ve fielded many questions about why and how I eat completely gluten free, especially with a hubby and littles who have different dietary needs than me.
So I’ve decided to write a short post series called Gluten Freedom: A Beginner’s Guide to Eating and Cooking Without Gluten. I’ll be featuring a basic introduction to gluten (today’s post!), how and why to keep a food diary (and an example of my own), a simple gluten free meal plan, several freebies and cheat sheets, and a revamped recipe!
I can’t wait to get started!
But before we start, what is gluten exactly?
It’s not necessarily just wheat! Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and triticale (a blend of wheat and rye). It hides in lots of different grains and flours, like graham, semolina, farro, and spelt. For a more in-depth and complete definition, check out Celiac.org.
Aside from existing in grains and flours, gluten can sneak into other foods and substances as well, like some flavored coffees, sauces and condiments, seasoning packets, and even cosmetics!
So if you’ve discovered recently that you need to eat a gluten free diet, don’t lose hope. Let’s start with the basics!
What does “naturally gluten free” mean?
Any food that is naturally gluten free contains absolutely no gluten in its original, whole-food form. In other words, a carrot is gluten free whether you eat it raw or cooked. It contains no gluten unless gluten is added to it.
Occasionally, a packaged food can be naturally gluten free but still have a warning label. For example, oats are a naturally gluten free product. But in the factories that process oats, there may be a chance that the oats come in contact with a trace amount of wheat that is also being processed at that facility. For this reason, the label is required to keep “gluten free” off its label, and add words like, “May contain wheat.” For the gluten sensitive, this may not be much of an issue. For very gluten intolerant people or someone with Celiacs, this is a deal breaker. The good news is you can almost always find certified gluten free oats (or (fill in the blank) naturally gluten free foods that may not have that special label in stores or online.
So what can you eat? Once I discovered that my list of “safe foods” was longer than my “unsafe foods,” I felt so much more positive about my diagnosis. 🙂
Here’s what you can eat!
Click here —–> GF Cheat Sheet <—— to download your own cheat sheet!
The basic rule of thumb for knowing whether or not a food contains gluten goes as follows:
Dairy, Meats, Fruits and Veggies = Always Naturally Gluten Free (unless something else is added).
When it comes to prepackaged foods, label reading is key. And unfortunately, label reading can be tough – especially if you’ve never done it before! It took me years to familiarize myself with all the scientific terms that could mean gluten is hiding in a product.
But fear not! Check back in the next few days for a list and printable cheat sheet of ingredients that can indicate gluten on food labels! 🙂
Aside from label reading, I’ll be writing about my own journey to gluten freedom, and featuring a sample food diary, a meal plan (with a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks!), and a new and improved (Non-GF to GF) recipe straight from this blog!
So stay tuned! 😀
And please, tell me…
What are some of your favorite foods from the cheat sheet list?
*Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician or medical professional, so please only read this as a girl who wants to share her gluten free journey in hopes of helping others who may be in the same boat. 🙂 Thanks!