Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye: the staple grains of Western civilization. More and more people are cutting gluten out of their diet, for many different reasons. For one thing, research suggests that coeliac disease, a condition where the small intestine is gradually damaged by gluten, is on the rise. Certainly the technology to diagnose the condition has improved. Gluten and wheat allergies are another factor.
About gluten free diet
Whatever the reason for cutting gluten out of the diet, it’s not exactly easy. Here’s a quick primer on some strategies that may help.
The later in life you cut gluten from your diet, the more difficult it will be for you to resist indulging yourself occasionally. However, particularly if you have just been diagnosed with coeliac disease, it’s very important that you don’t give in. If you have coeliac disease, the damage that exposures can do to your small intestine, even if you don’t experience severe external symptoms, can lead to a great many health problems down the line.
It will be especially difficult when you start out, but as you keep going, it will get easier to resist, for two reasons. Every time you successfully avoid gluten, it will get easier to say no the next time, too. Also, the longer you go without eating gluten, the less your body will be accustomed to foods that contain it. This means that even if you did not experience symptoms before or are cutting it out of your diet due to a related condition, you may feel ill after eating it after you have gone without it for a while.
Replacing your staples
Another thing that will help you with resisting temptation is figuring out appropriate replacements for the foods you might be craving or just replacements for food in general. If your diet previously had a lot of wheat products in it, you might initially be stymied by how to eat gluten free, but there are actually many different options.
The easiest choice is usually to focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free. This includes many rice dishes, as well as potato dishes and a lot of Mexican food, as long as you use corn tortillas rather than flour tortillas. If you feel the need for actual pasta instead of rice or rice noodles, most people agree that corn pasta tastes most similar to wheat pasta.
How to shop
Shopping gluten free can be confusing at first, but it is also pretty easy to get the hang of. With the amount of people who are eating gluten free, there is generally at least a small gluten free section in most supermarkets, often located by the health food section. You will probably have to do at least some trial and error testing to find out which versions of gluten free foods you like. This can be frustrating, especially since gluten free food is often quite expensive.
As mentioned above, corn pasta is usually the closest approximation of wheat pasta, but the formula is different for baked goods. If you are looking at breads or crackers, you should look for a combination of white rice flour, tapioca flour, and potato starch flour. These three together give a good combination of taste and texture. Also, breads should be purchased from the freezer section – gluten free bread off the shelf will usually be very dry.
If you have questions about a gluten free diet or healthy nutrition, contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a dietitian. Contact Us Today!