3 Steps for Going Gluten-Free

There are many reasons for going gluten-free : Celiac disease, IBS, thyroid problems and other autoimmune disorders are just a few.  But sometimes, even after adopting a gluten-free diet, lingering symptoms lead people to conclude a gluten-free diet isn’t working, or that going gluten-free is just some pointless fad, and they resume suffering through “easier” eating habits out of frustration (not realizing this only worsens the problems they set out to fix).

So to help you avoid this gluten-free rut, we’ve come up with three easy steps for going gluten-free.

Step 1: Avoid all packaged (and most processed) foods—at least initially.

Going gluten-free isn’t nearly as much of a perceived inconvenience if, right off the bat, you resolve to ditch everything that comes in a package or doesn’t appear in its natural form in the grocery store. (The exception to this rule, however, would be oils and most dairy, as these are naturally gluten-free.)

VitaStrength - Going gluten free. Avoid packaged foods.

Don’t shop in these aisles until you know which gluten-free items to look for—and even then, less is best.

If you have children, this may seem to like an inconvenience, but what is their morning cereal actually doing for them that gluten-free oatmeal, fruit, yogurt* and eggs couldn’t?

*Some yogurts contain miscellaneous food starches that could contain gluten.  Check carefully.

Step 2: Go gluten-free as a household.

Anyone who’s ever been on diet or battled a food allergy knows how frustrating it can be preparing separate meals and affording separate grocery lists—especially if you’re cooking for more than two people.  But going gluten-free doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor.

By converting your entire kitchen to a gluten-free zone, you eliminate the risk of cross-contamination from utensils, cooking surfaces, and pots and pans, and remove the temptation to indulge in the foods you’re trying to avoid.  Plus, no one sane has ever said gluten is necessary or vital to human life.  So you’re not really depriving anyone in your household of some crucial, recommended daily allowance of a nutrient.  And if you’re the one doing the grocery shopping, what you buy at the store is all up to you, anyway.

VitaStrength - Going gluten-free, steak and potatoes with veggies.

No one even has to know you made the old switcheroo.

VitaStrength - Going gluten-free, kabobs are a great choice.

                    No really… don’t tell them.

Step 3: Don’t assume the absence of gluten.

From candy, to fruit juice, to condiments and toothpaste, malt flavoring and modified food starch are common additives found in nearly everything most people put in their mouths.  But as unassuming as they sound, these two ingredients are completely off-limits on a gluten-free diet.

That’s because a common mistake when going gluten-free is simply avoiding everything that doesn’t implicitly list wheat as an ingredient.  The problem is, these things are still gluten-containing substances.  Just like milk, wheat has many other derivatives that can (and almost certainly do) contain gluten, and wheat isn’t the only gluten-containing grain.  Malt comes from barley; modified food starches can be corn-based but frequently are contaminated, and are likely variations of wheat powder.  So unless otherwise stated, assume the presence of gluten.  (You may also call the customer service number on the product’s packaging, or click here for a full list of gluten sources.)

So remember, going gluten-free doesn’t have to be hard—it just takes patience and a little more diligence than assumption!

For more tips on going gluten-free, or to keep up with new happenings on the VitaStrength blog, subscribe here.  You can also review our archives and browse previous posts here.

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