So maybe you heard GP (aka Gwyneth Paltrow) was gluten free. Or your best friend was diagnosed with celiacs disease and now has to make a diet change. Maybe you don’t have a clue what gluten is but you googled and landed here. Whatever brought you to today’s post, welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. Grab a cup of tea because we’ve got a a lot to chat about.
What Is Gluten?
If you look up the dictionary’s definition of gluten, it will tell you that gluten is a mixture of two protein present in wheat and some other grains. It’s often used to help maintain the shape of dough and other foods. And more often than not, it’s found in some of the most surprising places. Fun fact: both skittles & twizzlers contain gluten.
What Does Going Gluten Free Mean?
Going gluten free means that you’re looking to cut gluten out of your diet. And depending on what you typically eat, this might be easier for some. Gluten can be found in cereals, grains (spelt, barley & rye all contain gluten) and many other places. So if you plan to go gluten free, be aware that gluten doesn’t always go by it’s natural name. It’s rather sneaky like that.
What Does A Gluten Free Diet Look Like?
With the increasing need for gluten free products and even more people being diagnosed with celiacs, finding gluten free options is easier today than ever before. If you’re a regular pasta eater, you might sub in a chickpea or lentil pasta* instead. Maybe bread is your thing and there are tons of gluten free bread options available in the freezer section. How you define a gluten free diet in your life will depend on what you regularly choose to eat.
WHO REALLY NEEDS TO BE GLUTEN FREE?
Anyone who has been diagnosed with a medical related condition that requires them to remove gluten from their diet. Typically this is those with celiacs disease. But there are many who find they have a gluten sensitivity and not an intolerance like those with celiacs. If you have a sensitivity to gluten, I do, then you may find that you experience less brain fog, inflammation and other symptoms when you remove it from your diet.
ARE YOU SURE I DON’T NEED TO BE GLUTEN FREE?
There are quite a few studies out there that suggest those who don’t have an intolerance or sensitivity don’t need to remove gluten. Personally, I think it’s like anything else. I always recommend consulting a doctor should you need to before making any major changes. But if you think you may have a gluten sensitivity, there’s always the option to take a test or do your own elimination diet to see how your body responds.
HOW SUSTAINABLE IS A GLUTEN FREE DIET?
With all the alternative options available, a gluten free diet is more sustainable than ever. You can pretty much find an alternative for most things in a gf form. But it does mean you have to ask more questions when you eat out. If you have celiacs, cross contamination is a concern as far as cooking goes. Often times, places will share cooking surfaces or oils with things that contain gluten. French fries is one example a food you might think is gluten free but is often cross contaminated.
There’s also taking the time to learn all the hidden places like sauces and such that contain gluten. Soy sauce is one that is easy to forget about but isn’t gluten free. If you’re looking for an alternative, I’d highly recommend trying tamari or coconut aminos. Like sugar, it’s not always easy to spot the gluten in a product. But once you learn the ins and outs, it’s easier to manage a gluten free diet. It just takes time.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
As someone with a gluten sensitivity, there are a few things I’ve personally noticed when I’m actively eating gluten free. My skin and digestion is better. I find I tend to breakout around my mouth and on my cheeks when I get gluten. And based on trial & error, I’ve learned that tends to happen when I’m eating things my body doesn’t enjoy.
I don’t tend to feel so much brain fog. There are days I’ve found it incredibly hard to concentrate simply because my brain feels to foggy from poor food choices. Those days are a good reminder for me of why I’ve made certain changes. And I also find I have less inflammation and bloating. I know I can handle a small amount of gluten but I try to maintain a regularly gluten free diet. Otherwise, I find I wake up feeling puffy and just like my digestion hasn’t quite settled. However, if you don’t have a need to remove gluten from your diet, you may not notice a difference other than potentially eating less carbs.
WHERE DO I START?
Firstly, I’d suggest figuring out if you even need to go gluten free. But if you’re making the moves towards this diet, I’d take the same approach that I mention for those wanted to go vegan. If you have the ability to do it gradually, it will seem less overwhelming. Start with finding good recipes to replace some of your favorites ones. Having a good rotation of meals down can make it easier to transition into any lifestyle diet. And if you need recipe ideas, I’d highly recommend checking out Nutrition Stripped, Downshiftology, Against All Grain or Deliciously Ella for inspiration.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?
I’m a big believer that not every diet is right for everyone. We all respond a bit differently to foods and it can take time to figure out what works best for your body. While going gluten free can often cause people to lose weight, it’s not necessarily the golden ticket to a healthy life. Ask questions. Listen to your body.
I think many people, myself and my friends included, can tell you that it’s not really fun to give up gluten. One of my friends mentioned how truly difficult is was for her to be around others eating things she couldn’t sometimes simply because her body wouldn’t let her. If you have to make the transition to be a gluten free diet, know it may not always be the easiest. But eventually, it gets better and you learn to adapt. One step at a time!
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