For those of you that feel overwhelmed with a diagnosis, here’s where to start with food! Food is the biggest issue, so we are going to talk about this.
Some people talk about what to do, where to find recipes, and where is the hidden gluten. I think asking this question is like asking someone to perform heart surgery that hasn’t been been to medical school. Eating gluten free is like taking a crash course in nutrition. It is hard. I think this is the way to do it.
For the first 90 days…
Please eat whole foods. Only eat un-marinated proteins (stay away from sausages), eggs, diary (except blue cheese), fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, rice, and potatoes.
Stay away from marinades and dressings. I know this sounds severe but it is just for 90 days. It will get better.
Don’t go out to eat – just eat at home. This is temporary. Going gluten free is a major upheaval in life. It is hard. But I promise, it gets better.
Many spice blends contain gluten, so use only single spices – no chili powder, or Italian seasoning unless. You mix it yourself. There are a million recipes online for spice blends.
Don’t buy processed gluten free foods – just for now. We will add them shortly.
If you want to take the whole house gluten free, that is for another article, but I don’t think it is necessary. I’ve published several articles about gluten free kitchens or non-gluten free kitchens, and preventing cross-contamination.
Also, I absolutely think that if you have children under 7, the whole house has to go gluten free without a doubt because the risks are too great. After 7, kids really start to be able to understand gluten and what they can and cannot eat!
For the next 90 days…
Add in certified gluten free products only. Certified gluten free products have been tested and verified to be below the FDA’s 20ppm and some are even tested below 5 ppm.
Adding certified gluten free foods allows some variety, including marinades, sauces, pizzas, and breads. Just before you are shell shocked, know that processed gluten free foods are much more expensive for a smaller portion. For example, gluten filled bread can be as inexpensive as $1.00 for a large loaf. Gluten free bread normally is about $5.99 for a loaf about 1/3 the size.
Items simply labelled gluten free are not good enough in this phase. They come in the next phase and I will explain why there. Just trust me, this process works. I promise!
The reason for the first 90 days is to help each of us realize that we don’t need the gluten free substitutes for gluten foods. Think of it as a detox.
The next 3-4 months…
At this point, you should have a good variety of foods you can eat. But its time to really get adventurous.
Here is where the rest of the grocery store opens up. Foods that are marked gluten free or maybe not can be added. The reason that this should be added later is because gluten can hide in a variety of places, even in items labelled gluten free.
More than once, I’ve seen products labelled gluten free that have something that inherently has gluten. For example, I saw a barbecue sauce that had “soy sauce” listed as an ingredient. Soy sauce typically has gluten, so the idea that this was not certified and listed soy sauce meant that it probably wasn’t really gluten free. I didn’t buy it.
This is why I recommend that we to start really, really simple on this gluten free journey. At this point we have a great variety of foods to eat and know that we can eat safely without too many issues.
Here’s a link to a great article in looking for hidden gluten on labels. No reason for me to reinvent the wheel here.
For the next 90 days…
You’ve now gone 9 months on this journey. Congratulations! Its been a long time and I’m sure you’ve done great.
For the next 90 days, its time to expand your horizons. You know what foods are gluten free and are probably in a food rut. Expand and experiment with your diet.
This is also the time to start experimenting with altering gluten recipes that you loved before diagnosis and making it gluten free. Often times with small amounts of flour in recipes, the flour can simply be replaced with an all purpose gluten free flour. Normally, less than 1/2 a cup can be replaced without issue. With larger amounts of flour to be replaced, there is more chemistry that needs to be evaluated. Xantham gum or potato starch may need to be added to make the recipe work. I’m not an expert at this – I’m only replacing less than 1/2 a cup. If the recipe calls for more than that, I typically just move on to a different recipe.
If you are eating bacon, eggs, and fruit every morning for breakfast, maybe on the weekend try making gluten free pancakes once or twice. It will help expand your horizons and help your gut. We have to eat a variety of foods and have to work hard to achieve that goal.
It’s been a year since this journey started. Sometimes its been hard and hopefully eating gluten free has gotten easier this year.
Ongoing, you will need to continue to read labels, even on products you’ve eaten for a long time. In the US, Nacho Cheese Doritos used to be marked gluten free. In 2019, they removed the gluten free label and many have reported getting sick from the chips.
Let me know if you have questions!