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Going Gluten Free Guide - Geek Turned Athlete

Going Gluten Free Guide

My gluten free journey started more than a year ago after having stomach problems for 6-7 years prior with doctors telling me it was just stress. I dealt with extreme constipation (7-9 days), bloating, horrible stomach cramping, fatigue, etc. Some people have it the other way around with diarrhea. I don’t know which one is worse, but what I can tell you is that I was NOT happy. I was always sick. I got frustrated when doctors were only treating the symptom and not the cause and decided to take my life into my own hands with an elimination diet. Through that elimination diet, I found out that I was gluten intolerant. I went gluten free from that period on, and I have never looked back. My life has changed for the better!

It seems like a lot of bloggers are going gluten free now. Some are doing it for medical reasons and some are doing it to lose weight (not a good choice, you will gain it back. Trust me.). In my opinion, going gluten free is serious business, and it is something I would never wish on my worst enemy. It is a pain in the butt. BUT. Once you get through the first few months, it starts to get a little easier. You start to get really good at reading labels, and you know how to order at restaurants. Gluten is EVERYWHERE! Here is a little guide that I put together for you all just in case you are ready to start this journey.


There are significant differences in gluten free flours.

  • Bob’s Red Mill Flours like the garbanzo bean and fava flour or rice flour are great flours for gravies or for frying foods. They do NOT contain xantham gum. If you want to bake with this type of flour, you will need to add xantham gum to it in order to mimic the consistency of gluten flours.
  • Pamela’s Bread Mix and Flour Blend (the one you use for your pizza crusts and pie crusts) is what you should be using if you don’t want to deal with the addition xantham gum yourself. It already has it. You can add this as a substitute for flour in regular recipes. And to be perfectly honest, this blend is much better than the Bob’s Red Mill. This is the more expensive of the two brands though.
  • Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix is similar to Bisquick. I like to use it when I want to make muffins or pancakes in a hurry. 😉
  • Any type of brownie, cornbread, etc. mix that you get from either one of these brands are awesome, and I totally suggest trying them out! Pamela’s is the more expensive like stated above, but if you want to really impress anyone, this brand is the way to go.

Salad Dressings/condiments

  • Most processed salad dressings contain gluten. Your best bet is opting for a vinegar and oil mix when out. Anything with modified food starch has gluten in it. Any “soy sauce” based dressings contain gluten.
  • This brings us to soy sauce. Unless, it says “tamari” (gluten free soy sauce) on the menu, it has gluten. I carry tamari in my purse. I hate going out to sushi without any soy sauce.
  • Anything with “teriyaki” in the name contains gluten.
  • You need separate condiment containers in the fridge. Mayo, mustard, pb, jelly, EVERYTHING that has the potential of touching gluten. Your toaster might also be a source of cross contamination.
  • You NEED to read the labels. If anything says it contains wheat or gluten products, you CANNOT eat it. Sometimes, products don’t say on them that they contain gluten, and that is why you need to be on the lookout for:


Abyssinian hard wheat       Baking powder (unless it says GF)                          Barley grass                         Barley malt

Beer                                    Bleached flour                                                          Blue cheese                          Bran

Bread flour                         Brewer’s yeast                                                         Brown flour                          Bulgar Wheat

Cereal binding                    Chilton                                                                     Cous cous                             Dextrins

Durum wheat                      triticum Edible starch                                               Einkorn wheat                      Farina graham

Germ                                  Graham flour                                                            Granary flour                       Groats

Gum base                           Hard wheat                                                               Kamut                                  Malt

Matzo                                 semolina                                                                   Miso                                     Mononoccum Oats

Mustard powder                 Oat straw                                                                  Pearl barley                          Rice malt

Rye                                     Seitan                                                                       Semolina                               Shoyu

Small spelt                          Soba noodles                                                           Soy sauce                              Spelt

Sprouted wheat or barley    Stock cubes                                                             Tabbouleh                             Teriyaki sauce

Triticale                              Anything with the word WHEAT


Fu – dried wheat gluten

HPP – hydrolyzed plant protein

HVP – hydrolyzed vegetable protein

MSG – monosodium glutamate

TPP – textured plant protein

TVP – textured vegetable protein

Other foods

  • Anything that says “dredged” on the menu has flour on it. Gluten! A lot of times, this is done with fish. You will need to ask your server about how your fish is prepared even if it doesn’t specifically say “dredged.”
  • If you order any french fries, they were most likely fried in the same oil as breaded items. Sorry, you can’t eat them.
  • Interrogate the server about your eggs. Did they come from a prepackaged mix or are they cracking the eggs as they use them. Anything prepackaged (like on cruise ships for the omelets) has gluten in it. A lot of restaurants like to add gluten filled pancake batter to “fluff” up the omelets. Ask for fresh eggs.

Gluten Free Breakfasts

  • Oatmeal. Unless your oatmeal says “gluten free,” it isn’t GF. Oatmeal is often processed on the same equipment as wheat. Bob’s Red Mill has a great GF oatmeal.
  • Toast your GF bread and warm your GF wraps in a skillet before eating. Trust me on this one.

Gluten Free Lunch

  • I like burritos for lunch with a salad.
  • You can always make your own croutons if you miss those.
  • Of course, any soups are good. Tip: If you are thinking of adding any GF noodles in a soup (like chicken soup), boil and add separately. Salt the water. This is especially important with GF noodles. They need the salt. If you store the noodles in the soup, and then try to eat the next day, they will have disintegrated into the soup. NOT good.
  • My favorite dressing is made up of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Gluten Free Dinners

  • You can have any dinner you want, just make the appropriate substitutions.
  • We love tacos with soft corn tortillas. Fill with grilled fish (or beans), avocado, cabbage, tomato, salsa, and lime juice.
  • Quinoa is a staple in our house. Our favorite quinoa combination is the lemon dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and green onions. Cook the quinoa with half water, half vegetable broth, and a minced clove of garlic. Cool, and add above items.


Ultimately, YOU are in charge of your health. The first 6 months, you might have cravings for gluten. That’s normal.

I would definitely make your loved one read the “family member” section in the G-Free Diet by Elizabeth Hasselbeck.  It will help them understand how cross contamination will hurt you. The book also covers beauty products that might also be making you sick.

Good luck on this journey if you need to take it! Email me if you have any questions! I’m not a registered dietitian by any means, but I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve learned a lot in the last year and a half since going GF!!

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Julia @ Do more feel Good June 22, 2011, 5:42 am

    I just found your site via Meganerdruns and I’m so glad I did! I found out I had celiac disease almost 2 years ago (July is our 2nd anniversary together!) and I still find it hard sometimes. My older sister, whose symptoms were actually way worse than mine finally got a celiac disease diagnosis a few months ago and is really overwhelmed. I’m forwarding her this article. Thanks!

  • Alicia at Poise in Parma June 22, 2011, 6:04 am

    I am like you and went gluten free after the elimination diet. I haven’t looked back either! We’re lucky now that there are so many alternatives available. Thanks for this post!

  • Heather June 22, 2011, 6:17 am

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I’m also gluten free (due to Celiac Disease). Your inclusion of blue cheese interested me. I love blue cheese and was curious why you included it. I found this article which states that after tests done on blue cheese, on contaminated surfaces and near them, that the cheese was deemed gluten-free, by having less that whatever parts per million.

    Did you find any research to the contrary? I love my cheeses! I’ll also be developed a website – theglutenfreediary(.)com over the summer, so when it gets completed, I’ll drop a comment. I would love your input!

  • Fit Chick Britt June 22, 2011, 7:56 am

    Thanks for sharing the info. I’ve just recently had a sneaking suspicion I have a gluten intolerance. I frequently deal with both extremes you mentioned on the digestion spectrum. I don’t really even know where to start with taking it out.

  • Monika June 22, 2011, 8:55 am

    I also think I may have a gluten intolerance, so I may try a gluten free month to see if there are any changes— this is very helpful, thank you 🙂

  • Maggs June 22, 2011, 9:23 am

    Great post. I went Gluten ‘free’ a couple years ago because a doctor suggested it might help with my asthma. It didn’t but I stopped having stomach problems when I ran. I’m 90% GF now. When I’m training I am, but a couple times a year I splurge (mostly for celebration) and I can tell. I get bloated and crampy for a couple days.

  • Julie @SavvyEats June 22, 2011, 9:57 am

    GREAT GF guide, dear! I’m so glad that going GF has helped you feel better!

  • Carly D. @ CarlyBananas June 22, 2011, 10:25 am

    This is a really good read! I’m not GF but have several relatives with Celiacs. I’m really tempted to send this to several people I know who talk about going gluten free for weight loss. It seems absurd (and somewhat disordered) to put yourself through if it’s not necessary!

  • Jessica June 22, 2011, 10:44 am

    I was in the same boat as you – my stomach was a mess for years, the doctors blamed it on stress, and I was totally and completely frustrated. I gave up gluten 9 months ago and it has changed my life (for the better). It was definitely a challenge at first (and still is for sure) but I have learned to live a gluten free life that doesn’t feel like a life of deprivation.
    When it gets really tough, just remember you’re not alone!

  • Katie @KatieDid June 22, 2011, 12:37 pm

    This is a really great straight forward guide. I’ve been GF for 8 months and something like this would have been a savior back in the beginning! I also didn’t understand for a while that just because something isn’t labeled “Gluten Free” doesn’t mean it is unsafe to eat. (This is my personal experience at least, someone may be more sensitive than I am).
    Also watch out for broths! That one has gotten me a couple of times. Soups most often contain gluten just because of the base itself.

  • Katherina @ Zephyr Runs June 22, 2011, 12:46 pm

    Awesome guide! I think if people just ate more whole foods in general there wouldn’t be this problem, but our bodies have grown intolerant of the junk we’ve been feeding it. I’m not gluten free, but am super low on the scale of gluten consumption so I appreciate this!!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) June 22, 2011, 4:39 pm

    You are so right Nicole. The first several months were the hardest. Now I eat this way without thinking. Learning what was and wasn’t gluten helped me to figure out what to eat at restaurants.

    Also learning to make fantastic food helped. Hunni doesn’t even know the difference any more.

  • Sarah June 22, 2011, 5:52 pm

    This is great information. Thanks for putting it all together!

  • Zoey June 22, 2011, 7:11 pm

    I’ve been gluten free for almost 1 year after being diagnosed gluten intolerant. I knew MSG and TVP had gluten, but I had no idea about the other “acronyms”. I’ll be looking into that!
    HPP – hydrolyzed plant protein, HVP – hydrolyzed vegetable protein, TPP – textured plant protein

  • Kirsty June 23, 2011, 3:29 am

    What a great guide! I had know idea about those acronyms either. I went gluten free about a year and a half ago. It can be very challenging when socialising. If I go to friends for a meal I often take a dish I have cooked which I know is gluten free.

  • Jenni June 24, 2011, 4:46 am

    Thanks for telling Tina @CarrotsnCake about this post, I am glad I got to read it! However I do want to point out some misinformation – monosodium glutamate (MSG), despite the deceiving name, is actually gluten free, and so is mustard powder. Sometimes prepared mustards can be risky though – some manufacturers may add flour or beer. But otherwise this is great info, and I love your meal ideas!

  • Jeff June 24, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Everyone is gluten intolerant. It’s whether or not they realize it and how badly they are affected on a daily basis by it.

  • Lindsey July 3, 2011, 2:55 pm

    I’m so glad I found this guide! I went gluten-free two months ago and it made a difference immediately- my symptoms were very similar to yours (especially digestively speaking- talk about miserable and CRANKY!). I think I’m going to send this to everyone who constantly asks- “So you can’t eat what?!”


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