I have a lot of respect for people with food allergies. This can be a scary world to live in when one bite of the wrong food can have a huge detrimental effect on your health. I have worked with people with food allergies for many years and the number of people affected by dairy, soy, eggs, gluten, and wheat seems to go up each year.
I recently went gluten-free based on a recommendation from my nutritionist. I had been experiencing some chronic knee pain and she suggested a gluten-free diet to see if gluten was causing inflammation. It turns out that gluten does not have an ill-effect on my body and I had no troubles incorporating it back into my diet.
For me, going gluten-free wasn’t a total headache since I do the majority of my own cooking and am pretty familiar with food allergies. However, being ”officially” gluten-free did make me feel a little paranoid… even in my own kitchen. Did I use the gluten-free oats in my breakfast or did I accidentally use the regular ones? Wait! Did I just put soy sauce in that stir fry?! What was I thinking?!
For anyone that is transitioning to a gluten-free diet, the process can definitely be a little tricky. Here are a couple of my tips that will hopefully help make it a little easier.
1. Talk to a healthcare professional. If you have serious health issues and are questioning if gluten may be the cause, talk to your doctor. They will most likely have you take a few blood tests, but it’s important not to take gluten out of your diet prior to testing as this can alter the results. It’s also important for you to know whether you have a serious condition like Celiac Disease or if you are just slightly intolerant.
2. Get familiar with gluten. You would be amazed by how many products have gluten and don’t necessarily list it on the label because it is used during processing (e.g.soy sauce). You can find great gluten-free guides online and one of my favorite resources is Celiac.com’s Beginner’s Guide
3. Do your own cooking. Although many restaurants are becoming more aware of gluten allergies, if you have a serious reaction to gluten it is definitely best to try to make most of your meals yourself, if possible. This is a great chance to explore some new cookbooks and ingredients in your own kitchen. Have fun with it!
4. Vary your grains. Being gluten-free doesn’t just mean you are stuck with rice. Try quinoa, millet, or polenta. There are also a ton of different gluten-free flours used for baking. Experiment and see what you like best.
5. Find a gluten-free bakery in your city. I found that I missed gluten the most when I thought about dessert and having a fun treat from Flying Apron Bakery made life a bit easier. No bakery in your city? You don’t have to be a baker to enjoy these Raw Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting or these Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies.
6. Connect with others. There are tons of people living gluten-free these days and having support from others helps to make any dietary change more enjoyable. You can look for gluten-free restaurants or meet-up groups in your area, and the blogosphere is a great place to find others living the good gluten-free life.
Gluten-free entrees pictured above:
Millet and Aduki Bean Salad
Quinoa Pasta with Golden Beets and Greens
Kimchee Fried Rice
Tofu Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)
More gluten free recipes can be found here.