Going gluten free can be really overwhelming! Not fully understanding the diet and lifestyle often leads to frustration and eventually giving up. Knowledge is power, though, so here are five easy steps to kick-start your gluten-free diet and help you stay with it.
1. Clean out the entire kitchen.
Half the reason people don’t stick with the gluten-free diet is because they leave the temptation of gluten in the pantry. Don’t let yourself be tempted by keeping anything in the house. Take an afternoon to clean out your freezer and pantry of anything containing gluten.
2. Learn how to read labels.
While in some places it’s now mandatory to put gluten on the ingredient list, this isn't the case everywhere. Be wary of ingredients such as “hydrolyzed plant protein” or “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” as the source could be wheat. Anything with the word “malt” also likely contains gluten, especially when it says “barley malt.” Another culprit is “modified food starch,” as the starch could be wheat derived.
3. Substitute for the staples.
Just because you’re eating gluten free doesn’t mean you have to eat bland food. Many great substitutes exist on the market. For example, you can replace soy sauce with tamari. You can replace wheat flour with a number of gluten-free flours, like brown rice flour, almond flour, or even chickpea flour. You can also replace your wheat pasta with quinoa-based pasta, which has a very similar texture.
4. Find a local bakery.
Delicious gluten-free foods do exist, but they’re likely not in the frozen aisle at your grocery store. The best gluten-free bread is that from a local bakery where it’s baked fresh and has a clean ingredient deck.
5. Stock up on fresh produce, nuts and seeds.
Gluten is often in snack foods, so it’s important to have lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds on hand to snack on. Rather than reaching for the gluten-filled muffin, a perfect gluten-free alternative is an apple with some almonds.