Friday, May 2, 2014

Going Gluten Free

You have to go gluten free, now what?  
That is the question most people ask when they find out they have to remove gluten from their diet.  

What is gluten?  

Gluten is the protein found in wheat endosperm (a type of tissue produced in seeds to be ground into making four). Gluten is found in wheat, barley/malt, rye, spelt, kamut, semolina and oats.  While it is not in the actual oats, they use the same equipment as wheat during processing and can the oats can be easily contaminated with gluten. A gluten free diet is used to treat celiac disease.  Many other disorders may also benefit from removing gluten from your diet.   


Some common symptoms of Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance are: diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rashes, bloating, pale stools, foul smelly stools, weight loss or weight gain, migraines, joint pain and mal-absorption.  I also found that when I removed gluten, if I accidentally got gluten-ed, I began to experience flu like symptoms, dizziness/vertigo and headaches.  

Going Gluten Free

Switching to a gluten free diet can be overwhelming, but it just takes some getting used to.  Many grocery stores now carry a lot of gluten free foods now from pasta's, gluten free sauces, gluten free breads and bagels.  You will want to try different brands until you find the ones you like.   You also need to be careful with any type of packaged foods.  For instance, rice may be gluten free, but they may package it up with different spices and use wheat as binders for many products like veggie burgers.  Many TV dinners use soy sauce, which has gluten in it as well.   When buying canned items, i.e. beans, soups and sauces, be sure to check the label for gluten.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, but once you find products you like, it becomes second nature. 

First thing you will want to do is to go through what you normally eat and find out which of those items have gluten.  If you eat breads, pasta's and cereals, start there.  I would suggest trying to replace your bread with Udi's breads and rolls, because those tend to taste pretty good.  Keep in mind that they may not taste the same, but your taste buds will adjust.  Be patient and learn to try new things.  If you normally eat sandwiches, maybe try to switch to salads or even make some wraps with a gluten free wrap that you should be able to find in either a grocery store or a health food store.  Plan your meals with things like chicken and rice, and try not to add a lot of packaged foods to your diet.  If you didn't eat cookies before, why are you going to now?  Many of the gluten free desserts are packed full of extra sugar and fat to make them taste good.  Be careful and read labels.  Try to stick with a lot of fruits and vegetables and as much healthy foods as you can.  If your body has been struggling with gluten, then it will need time to heal.  Plant foods are the best medicine for your body and will help you to heal faster.  

You have no idea how much better you will feel after you have removed gluten from your diet.  I felt better within days of removing gluten from my diet.  I did not eat a lot of packaged gluten free foods and primarily stayed with whole foods and planned my meals using fresh ingredients.  I found my energy coming back within weeks.  My skin rashes and stomach issues took awhile longer and I also had joint pain, which also took some time.  I would say it took me a good 2 years to finally feel like myself.  During that time, I also eliminated dairy and maple syrup.  I am not going to say that it is always easy.  I do find myself in stressful situations from time to time and have to plan wherever we go what I will be able to eat.  I have my occasional moments of frustration, but when I remember how badly I felt, I realize that it is more important to be healthy and feel well than to eat a slice of pizza that can hurt me.  I realize how many wonderful foods that I have discovered and how good they make me feel.  I know it's hard and it's overwhelming, but find online blogs and groups to help guide you.  Ask a lot of questions and try to embrace your new way of eating.

Other foods to watch out for:  breads, pasta's, salad dressing, packaged rice, tortilla chips, packaged chips and crackers, pretzels, licorice, candy, cereals, natural flavorings, malt vinegar, barbecue sauce, cold cuts, blue cheese, seasoning packets, broth, soups, spices  and sauces. 

Gluten Free Foods

Brown Rice
White Rice 
Sweet Potatoes
Many dairy items
Chia Seeds
Hemp Seeds

Some hospitals offer groups to help with going gluten free, so be sure to check your local hospitals to see if they have that available.  You may also find some health food stores who occasionally have classes or can help you with recipes.  Many chain restaurants now have gluten free menu's.  Always ask because you never know.   Below are some of the restaurants that I have tried and had a good experience with.  Be sure to always call before you go to be sure they provide this in your area.   I also find some small local places can make you something too.  

Restaurant's with Gluten Free Menu

Charlie Brown's
Olive Garden
The Outback
Ruby Tuesdays
Uno's Pizzeria
Tommys' Coal Fired Pizza
Bonefish Grill
Chevy's Fresh Mex
Chilli's Grill and Bar Restaurant
PF Changs
Brio Tuscan Grille

Fast Food Restaurants

I don't eat in fast food places very often, but here are a few places I have tried without issues.


Side salad with Pomegranite Dressing 
(I order 2 side salads as my meal)

Five Guys

Burger without Bun


Naked Burrito with beans & veggies
Corn Taco with beans and veggies
Corn Chips & Salsa

Chic fil A

Chicken without bun


Chopped salad with veggies & Oil & Vinegar

Some Gluten Free Companies

Blogs with Gluten Free Recipes

Helpful Websites for Traveling 

(Lists by Gluten Free Restaurants by State)

Helpful Websites for Disney World

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