10 Tips for Going Gluten-Free
Gluten has become a mainstay in the Western diet, but the question is, is it here to stay? With celiac diagnoses becoming more common and intolerances being more widely accepted, you might find yourself navigating the gluten-free world sooner than you think. It’s definitely a better time to be eliminating the foods than it was 20-years-ago, with more options on the shelves, alternative meals at restaurants, and distant family members understanding the condition when it comes to big holidays, but it doesn’t come without its challenges.
I grew up with a gluten-intolerant mother, so gluten-free wasn’t new to me, and I realized at age 16 I most likely had an intolerance too. However, getting results back from widespread testing a couple of months ago showed me how difficult that transition really is. Sometimes it can feel impossible, or sad when you miss out on that beautiful slice of pizza, but there are a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way that may help you navigate your new diet too.
1. Get Friendly With Gluten-Free Flours
This new journey is going to turn you into a Michelin star chef in no time. Gluten proteins act as a binder in many foods, so you have to get creative in the kitchen to make your old favorites work. Between brown rice, buckwheat, and tapioca, you’re sure to find a staple that suits you best - so try a little bit of this and a little bit of that until it hits the spot! We love a blend of all three for a nutrient-dense flour that actually sticks.
2. Invest in Good Quality Grains
Sure, you might be losing wheat, oats, barley, and rye from your plate, but if you’ve ventured to your local bulk food store lately, you’ll have seen that there’s an abundance of gluten-free grains on offer. Buying organic grains ensures they’re not packed with any of the nasties, and instead, rich in vital micronutrients for your health and wellbeing. Not sure where to start? Explore these Gluten-Free Grains and How to Cook Them.
3. Toast Your Bread or Make Your Own
Gluten-free breads are undeniably improving from their cardboard texture of the past, but any season celiac knows that more often than not, it tastes better toasted. If you’re finding the dry-er or crumblier loaf less enjoyable than usual, heat it for a few minutes. If you’ve been watching sourdough starters on Instagram with envy, try these 4 Delicious Gluten-Free Bread Recipes.
4. Try Using Pulse Pasta
The thought of losing this Mediterranean staple is alarming at first, but there’s plenty of good options on supermarket shelves. One gaining popularity is pulse pasta, made purely out of your favorite legumes. Not only are these affordable and easy alternatives, but they also have a rich flavor and they’re an incredible source of plant-based protein.
5. Start Drinking Gluten-Free Beers
Beer drinkers are a rare breed in our circle, but for those who enjoy an occasional drop here and there, this wheat-based-brew may start to cause you the world of grief. Thankfully, gluten-free options are becoming more easily available at liquor stores, and because they’re brewed with rice, they’re often a lower carb and sometimes lighter alcohol content alternative!
6. Replace Your Soy Sauce With Tamari
Gluten sneaks up in the most surprising of places, so if you’re a foodie that loves to explore all cultures and cuisines, you’ll have to keep an extra eye on your foods. The main difference between these two is that soy sauce is made with wheat, whereas tamari is made with little-to-none (it always pays to double-check). Tamari is traditionally made as a byproduct of miso paste, and we love it for it’s darker, richer flavor.
7. Get To Understand Nutrition Labels & Sneaky Additives
It’s always a good idea to really understand what’s in your food, but when you start to eliminate a widely-used food from your diet, it’s a good idea to double down on that knowledge. Some labels will state ‘may contain traces of gluten’, and this is often letting you know that the food was made in the same factory as something with gluten. Often any ingredients that contain the gluten protein will be included in bold. You’ll become the Sherlock of the supermarket in no time.
8. Do Your Research
Books, films, blogs, and recipes are your new best friend. There’s an abundance of information from people who have been living gluten-free for years, and researchers who have dedicated their careers to discovering all the information. Check out this article from Cyndi O’Meara, filmmaker and nutritionist, to discover her tips for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle, or sink yourself into Transcendence Season 1 and discover how getting rid of gluten was the secrete to Novak Djokovich’s success.
9. Let Your Friends & Family Know
Managing those family holidays and awkward eating out requests can get a little easier when you let those closest to you know what you’re having to cut out, and most importantly, why. Show them fun recipes (like our healthy gluten-free chocolate recipes) they can make to share with you, and let them know that it may be tricky for you to find your feet - but with their support, it will become that much easier.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Help
There will be times where this change feels more challenging than others. It’s okay, learn to cherish the negatives with the positives. If it does begin to become difficult to make sure you’re eating well, or if you feel unsure where to begin, don’t be afraid to seek help from a qualified professional. Dietitians, nutritionists, and naturopaths are all knowledgable people you can seek out to support you on this new journey.