Gluten was a cause, and an easy fix, so I decided to eliminate it from our diets and see what happened. Along the way I learned A LOT. It comes up quite a bit, as food is a huge part of our lives as humans. I decided to make a document that I could add to when I learned something new. Then I could send this document to people if they were interested. I have received a lot of wonderful feedback from sharing this info, and have decided to share it here.
Feel free to message me or leave a comment with any questions you have about going gluten free. I love sharing my experience and helping people learn about gluten. BONUS: I lost fifteen pounds without even trying by going gluten free. My son lost ten pounds, which was over 10% of his body weight at the time! We were both so fluffy!
Please always discuss any dietary changes with your physician first. Please note that I am not a medical expert, and am only sharing my personal experience.
Keep in mind with gluten free, if you are wanting to test your sensitivity, you need to go 100% gluten free. This is not something you can experiment with a little bit. One exposure to gluten can take up to six weeks to leave your system. Therefore, you will not have true results if you have even one bite of that donut.
Naturally gluten free foods. These are the foods that you should mainly buy. They are natural and unprocessed (with the exception of the dairy products).
· Nuts. Any nuts that have been treated with a powder flavoring, you should check the ingredients list.
· Meats, fish, and seafood, with the exception of processed meats (bacon, sausage, lunch meat, hot dogs, etc. you will have to check the labels)
· Dairy (eggs, milk, butter, etc.), with the exception of certain cheese, like blue cheese. You will also have to check the ingredients in ice cream.
· The following grains/flour are gluten free, although, I would ALWAYS check the ingredient list to make sure it only contains the one item, and/or was not processed in a facility with wheat.
o Almond Flour
o Brown Rice
o Brown rice flour
o Coconut flour
o Corn Flour
o Corn Grits
o Corn Meal – commonly not gluten free, double check ingredient list
o Potato flour
o Rice flour
o Tapioca Flour
o White Rice
· Condiments to be careful of:
· Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce are not gluten free unless specifically noted on the packaging
· BBQ sauce
· Salad dressing
· Powdered seasonings (taco, chili, dips, etc.)
Most baking items in their raw state are gluten free (i.e., oils, baking soda, baking powder, sugars, spices, herbs, etc.)
Most beverages are gluten free (i.e., water, soda, tea, juice, coffee, hot chocolate, etc.). Wine is gluten free. Beer is NOT gluten free, although they do make gluten free beer.
You always want to check the ingredients on pre-prepared foods (i.e., canned goods, frozen foods, boxed foods), but these are generally safe:
· Baked Beans
· Corn Chips
· Corn tortillas
· Canned Beans
· Canned fruit
· Canned vegetables
· Baked Beans
· Green beans
· Kidney Beans
· Pinto Beans
· Potato Chips
· Rice Cakes
· Rice Crackers
· Spaghetti Sauce
· Tortilla Chips
· You will need to check the labels of frozen items, such as veggies, fruits, potato products (french fries/hashbrowns), and anything that includes a sauce.
I buy gluten free bread (Target and Walmart sell Udi’s and Rudi’s loaves in the frozen section). They also make frozen hamburger and hot dog buns, but we don’t use them very often. Sometimes I buy gluten free frozen waffles (the brand is Vans). We get gluten free noodles in the dried pasta section, there are quite a few major brands that sell GF pasta, then add your own sauce. Annie’s makes two gluten free boxed mac n cheeses that are really good. Target carries a frozen chicken nugget bag by Purdue. Walmart has one by Tyson, but I don’t think they taste as good! I also buy gluten free pretzels on Amazon. Here are links to some of these products:
I still make cookies, cake, pancakes, etc. We buy in bulk Pamela’s Baking Mix from Amazon, and I can basically substitute that for flour in ANY recipe. Sometimes I tweak recipes, but nothing has ever come out the first time so awful that we couldn’t eat it! Tip: Gluten free products burn faster in the oven!
Things that would surprise you that commonly have gluten in them:
· Salad dressings
· Rice Krispie Treats
· Rice/Corn based cereals
· Fruit snacks
· Many candies/chocolates
· Beauty products (shampoo, make up, lotions, etc.)
Ingredient List. Look on the list of ingredients. An easy way to tell is at the very end, it is required to have listed if one of the top eight allergens are in the product. It will look like this: “THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS SOY AND WHEAT”. Or milk, nuts, etc. If you see WHEAT, it’s NO GOOD. Put it down and walk away! Also, if it says, "Made in a facility that processes wheat." That is a no no.
Hidden gluten ingredients to look for – this is where you have to be careful. Many cereals contain Malt or Maltodextrin, but it doesn’t say “contains wheat” at the end of the ingredient list! Rice Krispies, which one would think would just be puffed rice, contains malt! I think it’s unnecessary, especially since they make a gluten free kind, but that’s the kind of thing you need to watch for.
· Malt (extract, syrup, flavoring, vinegar)
· Maltodextrin, unless it specifically states “derived from corn”
· Malt extract
· Soy sauce
· Brewer’s Yeast (regular yeast is okay)
· Modified food starch – THIS IS A BIG ONE
· Anything with “wheat” in it (wheat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat starch)
· Hydrolyzed vegetable/plant protein
· Graham flour
· Gluten, gluten flour
· Artificial coloring
· Caramel coloring
· Vegetable starch
Common items that are NOT safe:
· Baked beans – check the ingredients list
· Soups – I have not found many soups that do not contain gluten, which makes me so very sad. I love soup in the fall!!!
· Soup bases
· Bullion, although you can find gluten free bullion and stock at health food stores.
· Ice Cream
· Boxed rice/potato mixes
· Imitation seafood
· Veggie burgers
· Imitation bacon
· Salad dressing
· Communion wafers
· Crackers (no more Ritz, goldfish crackers, graham crackers)
· Pastries (no rolls, muffins, donuts, flour tortillas, flatbreads, bagels)
· Baked goods
· Cereal, granola. Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles in my area are gluten free. Chex also has gluten free cereals, but not ALL of their cereals are gluten free.
· Breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, biscuits
· Look at all ingredients on chips. Potato chips, Nacho Cheese Doritos, and Cheetos in my area are gluten free.
So what do we eat? Here are our main meals:
· Breakfast: Gluten free cereal (Chex or Fruity Pebbles), scrambled eggs, gf pancakes, gf waffles, fruit (apples, pears, peaches, bananas, oranges, etc.), homemade hashbrowns, bacon, yogurt, cottage cheese, gf toast.
· Lunch: Sandwiches with gluten free bread, quesadillas on corn tortillas, fruit, veggies (cucumber, spinach, avocado, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, etc.), chips.
· Snacks: Gluten free pretzels, string cheese, peanuts, baby carrots with hummus (check ingredients on hummus), cottage cheese, celery and peanut butter, raisins, nacho cheese doritos, potato chips and salsa, popcorn, apples.
· Dinner: Pork chops, chicken breast, hamburgers, spaghetti, rice, chili, gluten free mac n cheese, corn, baked potato, tacos, gluten free pizza, breakfast, pulled pork.
How to eat out. Order salads without dressing, or just lemon wedges, or with oil and vinegar. Nothing breaded, like crispy chicken or nuggets. Be aware that most places do not have a dedicated fryer for gluten free products, so even though french fries don’t contain gluten, then could be contaminated by other items placed in the fryer that do contain gluten.
· Do a little homework before you leave the house. See if the restaurant has a website with a menu, or google “Restaurant name gluten free options”.
· Order burgers or sandwiches without bread. Many places will do lettuce wrapped instead.
· Ask how items are prepared:
- Is the meat marinated in soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or Worcestershire sauce?
- Is the chicken dusted with flour before pan-frying?
- Is the oil used for French fries also used for frying onion rings (or other breaded foods)?
- Are there croutons or bacon bits on the salad?
- Do you use wheat flour to make the gravy (or thicken the soup)?
Places that cross contamination occur:
- flour sifters
- deep fried foods cooked in oil shared with breaded products
- shared containers including improperly washed containers
- condiments such as butter, peanut butter, jam, mustard, and mayonnaise may become contaminated when utensils used on gluten-containing food are double-dipped
- wheat flour can stay airborne for many hours in a bakery (or at home) and contaminate exposed preparation surfaces and utensils or uncovered gluten-free products
- oats – cross-contact can occur in the field when oats are grown side-by-side with wheat, select only oats specifically labeled gluten-free)
- pizza – pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contamination with their wheat-based doughs
- french fries
- non-certified baked goods e.g. “gluten-free” goods from otherwise gluten-containing bakeries
- bulk bins at grocery stores or co-ops
How I would suggest starting:
· Go through your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and get rid of everything that contains gluten. You don’t have to throw it in the garbage! Donate it to a local shelter or church.
· See what you have left. Make some meal plans based on those items.
· Make a list of your common favorite meals. We are creatures of routine and aside from the occasional Pinterest meals, you probably rotate the same recipes.
· Based on these meals, make a grocery list, noting what from your recipes will need to be GF specific (i.e., spaghetti noodles).
· Go to the grocery store. ALONE. The first few times you go, plan to spend some quality time there. You are basically relearning how to grocery shop. Don’t take the kids or the husband. Go alone and really look at ingredients. Many stores have a gluten free section. Ask a store employee where it is. Get some fun things to try! Cookies, brownies, etc. Find the items on your list, maybe get a few different brands if you can (make elbow noodles in one brand, spaghetti noodles in another brand). Take note of prices. Read ingredients and familiarize yourself with what is not gluten free.
· Come home and make new food! Take note of which products you like and don’t like. For example, in the gluten free section, there are mixes for cakes and brownies. I much prefer the taste of the kind I make with the baking mix than those mixes. But maybe you will like them, and maybe they are simple and that’s what you need right now!
· After you know what you like and don’t like, really look at the packaging. Maybe take a pic of it with your phone and keep it in a “gluten free” photo album. This will help you familiarize yourself with the packaging the next time you go to the store. We could all be half blind and head into any Target and grab a Kraft Mac n Cheese box from the shelf. This is how it will be for your products after awhile. You will be able to shop “normally” again. Each shopping trip won’t require so much time or effort.
· Try to bake something fun! Celebrate that you can still have treats.
Other source of information: Blogs. Google “top gluten free blogs”. Follow them. Sometimes they have recipes. They answer questions, have extensive lists of what not to eat, what to eat, etc. Great resources.
I know this is A LOT to take in. After you read this, let me know if you have any questions. If you ever have a question about how I do something or is something gf, I would be happy to discuss.