Embarking on a Gluten Free Lifestyle

Embarking on a Gluten Free (GF) lifestyle can be an overwhelming challenge. There are many products out there that have hidden gluten products that will easily make you sick without warning. 

What is gluten, and why does it cause problems? Gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. You see these proteins when you bake bread, and the dough expands but doesn’t break. You feel the texture in chewy candy, gluten is what gives those sweet treats their gummy feel. But gluten is lurking in the least obvious places possible! 

Why do we need to go gluten-free? Well, there are a few reasons. Some folks are gluten sensitive. Meaning their bodies react to the proteins in a way that makes them uncomfortable, throws off the gut flora, and also can increase symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and rashes. 

Others have Celiac, a known autoimmune disorder, that causes the body to attack itself after the person consumes gluten products. For long-term health, both gluten-sensitive people and celiacs benefit from a gluten-free diet. It can help keep the body’s overall inflammation lower, prevent the body from attacking the thyroid gland, and reduce abdominal bloat, brain fog, and a host of other issues. Additionally, for folks with gluten issues, the risk of gut cancers increases. 

When starting a gluten-free diet, the easiest surefire way to avoid gluten contamination is to ensure you do not have gluten-based products in your home.  The simplest way to do that is to buy simple foods such as basic meat, veggies, fruits, whole nuts, eggs, and milk. These are always gluten-free. 

It is when we start adding on prepackaged foods that the risk increases. There is hidden gluten in so many products, and manufacturers often revamp their recipes by adding ingredients that may contain gluten. For those who find they are especially sensitive, cross-contamination is a real risk. Example: Oatmeal is gluten-free. However, Quaker Oats are milled on the same mills that process both wheat and barley grains. The mills are not cleaned between milling, thus when you eat quaker oats you are eating gluten albeit in small amounts. However, that can add up to a lot if you eat them daily. 

Eating out can also pose a real risk. There are so many things that might seem simple, but are not. For example, if you order a steak or a piece of chicken you would expect that to be gluten-free. However, many restaurants use spice packets with wheat flour mixed into them to cause them to adhere to the meat. Always ask for a GF menu, and make sure when you order you say I want the GF Entrée or the GF salad, or the GF Soup. Even off the GF menu at Outback I still say I will take a GF Ribeye and the GF broccoli, and the GF salad. 

It seems redundant, however, over time I have learned that some folks will not think of the croutons on a salad and bring your dish covered in gluten if you are not specific. You may also get asked, is this an allergy or a choice? While Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity are not allergies, it is very hard to explain auto-immunity to your server, so saying yes to the allergy is very important. It will let the kitchen staff know that they need to take extra caution.

I have included a few options for gluten in products that commonly contain gluten and those that have hidden gluten. It is always good to familiarize yourself with how to read nutrition labels. You will always be looking at them before you buy. 

As always, if you run into questions or just need help, please feel free to reach out to me!

Gluten Based ProductsReplace With
All pastaGluten Free Pasta – Best brand is barilla 
BreadSchar Bread – has croissants, baguettes, hamburger buns, sliced bread, crusty rolls,
Canyon Bakehouse
Are the best options for good flavor and texture. It will not taste like normal bread but it’s the least offensive of the 
The risk here is the vinegar which can be made of wheat, corn, or
Soy SauceCoconut AminosSan-J gluten free soy sauce
BBQ SauceBone Suckin’ Sauce
Stubbs Legendary BBQ sauce
Sweet Baby Ray’s Gourmet Sauces
Bull’s -Eye
Hunts BBQ sauce
KC Masterpiece
Trader Joe’s (These ones are my favorite as they are also not full of fake sugars)
Salad DressingsOlive garden Italian
Kraft Italian
Caesar salad
Hidden Valley Original Ranch is GF (Not the organic)Annie’s
Newman’s Own
Spice Blends and Spice PacketsMix your own spices, unless the blend says GF
Gravy Safest bet is to make your own GF Pioneer Brand
GF McCormicks
Simply Organic GF
ThickenerCorn starchArrowroot powderTapioca Starch
Xanthan gum
Potato Starch
Malt VinegarApple Cider VinegarWhite Vinegar 
AlcoholLook for GF options. Careful, many distilled products, while they should be okay, are not. Bailey’s Irish Cream contains wheat, and so does Kahlua. But most liquors are distilled enough to be considered GF. Always ask before a mixed drink is made what it contains. Other things are easy to avoid such as Beer which is made from Wheat, Barley, or Rye. 
MeatsUse real meats as much as possible. Processed meats can have gluten, and Vegan products are almost always thickened with wheat products to get their protein count up higher.
Apple Cider
Ice Cream – be careful of places like DQ or Dunkin Donuts. They mix all their products in their blenders and don’t clean between they are huge sources of Gluten. Bryers
So Delicious
Candy Swedish Fish
3 Musketeers
Milky Way
Snickers barsJelly Belly Jellybeans Dove Chocolate (specialty flavors may contain gluten always check)
Hershey’s chocolate
Tootsie Rolls
All Enjoy Life candies are GF as are all of their products
Lucky CharmsGluten Free Oatmeal
Gluten Free Grits

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