What is gluten? We hear so much about it but what is it really?
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 gluten sensitivity before you cut it out from your diet completely.
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”
Top Reasons to Go Gluten-Free
- Going gluten-free promotes a healthier lifestyle.
- It helps those suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that makes the body unable to process and digest fat properly.
- Gluten-free is a good dietary choice for 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 from your diet can help you to shed those unwanted pounds.
- Cutting out gluten can help to decrease the hard work and pressure currently put on your digestive system.
- You may see better skin, a leaner physique and stronger defense against illness.
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 or rice-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 (an ancient grain from Ethiopia that comprises the staple grain of their cuisines) and tapioca.
- Rather than breaded and fried meats, coat them with coconut oil and seasoning before baking or grilling.
The Bottom Line . . .
Cutting gluten out of your meals can help cure your abdominal and digestive problems, not to mention solve your skin disorders (even when it is hereditary!).
Think of gluten-free not as a diet, but as a lifestyle, and it will become a manageable and healthy way to live your life. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist to see if gluten-free is the best meal plan for you.