So a few readers have reached out to me explaining that they need to begin a gluten-free diet, for one medical reason or another, and they don’t know exactly where to start or how to begin this transition in their life. So I have created 5 steps to get the process started. Note, there is no right or wrong way, I am just offering helpful suggestions!
1. Take Inventory: Remember you don’t need to go to the grocery store and spend $500 to recreate your entire pantry. Most of the staples you have at home, are gluten-free. We just need to identify what stays and what goes.
- Grains: brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, nuts, peanut butter
- Tomato sauces: ketchup, salsa, marinara
- Dairy: cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt
- protein: Eggs, chicken (nothing breaded= no chicken nuggets)
- Any fruits and vegetables
Toss (or set aside for other gluten-eating family members)
- All bread and wheat products including: croutons, wontons, crackers, multigrain chips, hamburger buns
- gluten filled condiments: soy sauce, some barbecue sauces (Famous Daves), teriyaki
- creamy soups or sauces
2. Make a List: Remember it is best to eat a naturally gluten-free diet limiting the amount of processed foods that are made gluten-free. Most gluten-free processed foods have more sugar and fat than their gluten counterparts to make the taste and texture more desirable
- gluten-free bread- I like Udi’s Ancient grain
- gluten-free pasta
- gluten-free flour (if and only if you bake A LOT, I rarely use gluten-free flour and usually substitute beans or oat flour)
- oatmeal (if not found in your inventory)
- Whole grain of choice: quinoa, brown rice, etc…
3. Go to the Store: Remember don’t fall into the gluten-free trap. You don’t need gluten-free pop tarts, you didn’t eat regular pop tarts before! It’s hard to not think you need EVERYthing. Just focus on fruits, vegetables, and your list.
4. Food Preparation: It is important, especially if you have Celiac’s disease, to de-gluten your kitchen so you can cook in a safe environment and don’t have to constantly worry about cross contamination. After you are ready to begin cooking make a big batch of grains to use throughout the week (quinoa is a GREAT option).
- Get a separate gluten-free toaster
- wipe down counters and especially silverware drawers to get rid of gluten crumbs
5. Eating Out: Even though we all try to cook and pack lunches, we are human and have busy lives. So you may find yourself out on the town wondering where to eat. With that being said many restaurants these days have gluten-free menus or are more than happy to accommodate your food allergies. So don’t be afraid to speak up! If all else fails the salad (no croutons) is always a good choice!
And most importantly remember to enjoy food and cooking. Being gluten-free is not a death sentence but a chance to revamp favorite recipes and explore new possibilities. And if you are still confused or ever question if something is ok, remember to keep it simple! Grilled chicken, with rice and steamed vegetables is a perfectly healthy and “normal” dinner to have!
Hope that helped!