Whether you have been recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or just want to make the switch to Gluten Free you will need to makeover your kitchen to make the lifestyle change a successful one. Gluten is a protein that is found in-wheat, barley, and rye, many people’s bodies cannot process it properly and it presents as many different symptoms. SOME of the symptoms that you can experience with a Gluten allergy or intolerance are; stomach pain and cramping, anemia, regular bouts of diarrhea and then constipation, brittle nails, fatigue, and headaches- there are many more symptoms. Some foods are obvious as having gluten like; cake mix, flour, crackers, etc.
The first step is to purge your kitchen of box mixes, condiments, or breads that will sabotage all your efforts. If you have unopened packages these would be a great donation to a local food bank. The remaining packages can just be tossed out. If you cannot find definitive info on whether your item contains gluten its best to follow the old adage- “When in doubt, throw it out!” Many processed foods that you wouldn’t think have gluten do in fact contain it- canned soups, sausage (fillers), and even soy sauce and other seasonings and condiments can contain gluten. Malt vinegar and malt flavorings contain gluten.
Stock your kitchen well with unprocessed foods. Meat, poultry, fish, fresh fruit and veggies should be the foundation of your new gluten free diet. These do not contain gluten and are safe bets for your meals. The majority of your food intake should be these fresh, whole foods. This is a benefit to your for many reasons beyond being gluten free. Try to use only fresh herbs, salt and pepper as seasonings for your meat and vegetables. Shop more often to keep fresh foods fresh and not end up with waste. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a good choice as well, just avoid the ones already packaged in sauces.
Wait awhile to introduce gluten-free labeled packaged foods, add them in slowly, preferably one at a time so you can monitor your bodies reaction to them. Some people still experience symptoms even with these packaged foods labeled as gluten-free. Use them sparingly and try to stick to your whole foods. Even seasoning mixes can contain gluten as a byproduct. As gluten free eating has become more and more common, companies have stepped up to meet the need and there are a ton of gluten free products out there on grocery store shelves to help make your transition easier- from flour substitutes, to pancake mix, and even pre-made snacks.
Know that you will have setbacks, any lifestyle change this radical is a challenge. Sometimes the setbacks will not even be at your hands. While it is achievable, gluten free eating at restaurants and social events can be like a minefield-where you must carefully watch everywhere you step. Even the most innocent looking ingredients may contain your enemy-gluten. Time and arming yourself with info are your best weapons in defeating it.