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.
- 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
- 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!!