Make a Pain-Free Transition to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Going gluten-free is one of the biggest health trends in recent years. People suffering from celiac disease and those with gluten sensitivities or wheat allergies have always had to give up gluten to be healthy, but the trend has spread to wide swaths of natural health adherents.

It is still a matter of debate in the medical field as to whether or not gluten is bad for everyone, but some research has shown that it just might be. Gluten intake has been linked to the worsening of many autoimmune diseases and digestive ailments, and there is evidence that it can cause damage to the gut lining and lead to intestinal permeability.

Given the fact that gluten has no real nutritional value, many people are giving it up to avoid potentially serious side effects. Here are a few places to start if you want to remove gluten from your diet.

Bread, Pasta and Baked Goods

This is the category of foods that causes people the most heartache to give up. Especially in America, foods made from grains such as wheat, barley and rye make up a large portion of the daily food intake. Common foods consumed almost daily include toast, bagels and muffins for breakfast, sandwiches and pasta salads for lunch, and a variety of grain-based side dishes for dinner. Additionally, everyone’s favorite desserts include pies, cakes and donuts. It is daunting to think about never eating these beloved foods again.

The transition to a gluten-free diet should include embracing a different way of eating that includes more fruits, vegetables and proteins, but you can still enjoy all of your favorite breads, pastas and desserts on occasion. You will be happy to find out that not all grains have gluten and it is possible to find a gluten free flour substitute that has no grain content at all. Nut flours such as almond meal can produce some great pasta, and alternative flours made from roots such as cassava and tiger nut can often provide a one-to-one substitute for their glutenous counterparts.

Processed Foods and Snacks

If you are dealing with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you will need to be vigilant to avoid gluten that is hidden in many processed foods. Those who are going gluten-free by choice must decide how strict they want to be. Many commonly used processed foods such as salad dressings, condiments, packaged mixes, and spice blends contain some form of gluten.

The simplest way to be certain you aren’t accidentally consuming gluten is to embrace a whole foods mentality and simply cut processed foods out of your diet altogether. Although this can be challenging at first, it has many health benefits beyond just avoiding gluten. You will simultaneously be cutting out the harmful chemicals and preservatives that are packed into most processed foods.

If you aren’t ready to make such a big change yet, then you need to become an educated reader of food labels. You’ll want to make a habit of scanning the labels of any processed foods in search of ingredients such as wheat, barley, rye, and malt. Even foods that are naturally gluten-free such as oats may have been processed in facilities that also process wheat or other glutinous grains, so learn to check the label for that information as well. It is a safer bet to purchase items labeled as gluten-free, but remember that there are no official requirements to the gluten-free label so consume these foods with caution until you find products and companies that are reliable.

Implementing a gluten-free diet may be a wise and healthy choice. When you approach this change in lifestyle, remember that there are many alternatives to standard flours that will let you continue to enjoy favorites such as bread, pasta and baked goodies. Learn to read the labels on any packaged foods you buy to avoid accidental gluten consumption. Be willing to expand your diet by trying some new fresh alternatives to the glutenous and chemically-laden processed foods you may be accustomed to.