Tackling the job of a new diet is tricky, but there's no denying the excitement. You're launching into a habit that can fortify your health and joining a movement that is overtaking America.
Americans have been adopting gluten-free diets in masses — in fact, the number tripled from 2009 to 2017. However, the meaning and benefits of gluten-free living can be murky for many people.
As you kick off your journey, this guide can assist you in learning about gluten, gluten-free foods and useful tips.
- What Is Gluten?
- What Does Gluten-Free Mean?
- Why Go Gluten-Free?
- The Health Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
- What Foods Are Gluten-Free?
- Foods That Are Not Gluten-Free
- How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet
- Helpful Tips for People on a Gluten-Free Diet
- Shop Gluten-Free Products at Sincerely Nuts
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that exists in many foods like baked goods. Glutenin and gliadin are the two components that bind together to form gluten, and the dual protein holds bubbles of air in foods.
It's primarily used for structure in breads, muffins and crusts. Because the word "gluten" originally related to glue, it's no surprise that it fixes ingredients together. However, it also helps foods rise and retain their fluffy but tough texture.
In most doughs and batters, gluten is covered by layers of starch. If you disperse the surface-level starch, what's left is a rubbery substance, which is as close to bare gluten as you can get. You can stretch the highly elastic substance because it's resilient and acts like an adhesive.
What Does Gluten-Free Mean?
Gluten-free products have little to no gluten inside them. Foods that are naturally clear of gluten or those that have gluten removed fall under this category. You might still be asking, "Is there even a trace of gluten left in gluten-free foods?"
Well, if you go through the grocery store aisle and see a container with a "gluten-free" label, there might be a low concentration of gluten. More technically, the FDA has set a specific labeling requirement. The standard for "gluten-free" claims is that the food has to hold less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. This entails labels of "free of gluten," "no gluten" or "without gluten." There are additional requirements for grain ingredients and processing, too.
Why Go Gluten-Free?
Since gluten is simply a binding component in foods, why do people go gluten-free? Who should try a gluten-free diet? Medical reasons are the primary reason that people have to participate, but gluten-free diets have also become a popular health trend. The following incentives spur people on to gluten-free eating, and if you resonate with one of them, you should consider trying it.
1. Treat Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity
Some people are compelled to start a gluten-free lifestyle because of gluten sensitivities and disorders. This includes celiac disease, which is an immune disease that harms the small intestine. A variety of celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), bypasses the small intestine to damage the skin. It appears in a chronic rash around the knees, elbows, forearms, and scalp.
Non-celiac gluten issues are things like gluten intolerance, which causes discomfort after eating certain foods. The symptoms can consist of stomach pain, headaches, cramps, and fatigue.
Gluten-free diets aren't optional for people who struggle with celiac disease, and for the most part, those with sensitivities shy away from gluten foods.
2. Eat Healthier
Many people choose to go gluten-free to concentrate on a healthier diet. While there are not any proven health benefits of avoiding gluten, several gluten-free foods can be particularly wholesome, and this diet can steer people toward better eating habits.
If you're replacing processed gluten options with other grains, antioxidant-rich fruits, and vegetables, then you can embrace a wider variety of food groups. Shifting from pasta, bread and processed snacks to a diverse selection of raw or protein-rich foods can be a nutritious choice.
3. Lose Weight
While gluten on its own isn't fattening, gluten-packed foods can be more caloric compared to leafy greens, legumes, and low-sugar fruits. Also, gluten-free foods tend to have higher fiber, which aids weight loss.
Dietary changes can help in decreasing calorie intake, and this frequently results in a trimmer frame. Higher awareness of eating choices can cause you to prioritize weight goals. If you aim for naturally gluten-free foods that are low-calorie, you have a greater chance of dropping pounds during a gluten-free diet.
The Health Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
As previously stated, there aren't substantiated benefits of dodging gluten if you don't have a gluten sensitivity, but the gluten-free diet does show potential advantages. Advocates of the gluten-free lifestyle rave about feeling re-energized and lighter and personal changes can be convincing.
1. Bolster Digestive Health
Even those who aren't diagnosed with gluten intolerance claim that their digestion is renewed when they favor gluten-free foods.
Irritable bowel syndrome is likely eased through diets without gluten because it encourages gut health. Choosing a broader selection of foods introduces other substances to your stomach and can give it a chance to break down other foods besides gluten-heavy ones.
You can feel like your gut has been reset after partaking in the diet.
2. Surge in Energy
As you're treating your body to fresh foods, you can experience vitality and spiked energy levels. Research indicates that this specialized diet can reduce fatigue.
You may experience an alert mindset, and periods of tiredness can dissipate. If you're continually low on stamina, a gluten-free trial period can bring back vigor.
3. Improve Blemished Skin
Apart from internal issues, gluten can produce external changes, like eczema. Those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease report seeing improvement in these conditions.
There can be an overlap between people with psoriasis and gluten intolerance, and your skin can appear smoother and in better shape after cutting out gluten.
Acne can also be a frustrating outcome of gluten sensitivity, and modifying what you put into your body can reflect on your skin. Some people see a reduction of pimples and redness.
4. Alleviate Stress and Anxiety
Along with physical signs, mental symptoms can accompany gluten-related conditions. Stress, anxiety, and depression afflict a portion of people with celiac disease, and the switch to a gluten-free diet has demonstrated relief.
Although the studies are limited, it's possible for an appropriate diet to lift the mood and calm certain degrees of anxiety. When you're body is renewed, stress can quickly roll off and repair your mood, too.
What Foods Are Gluten-Free?
Wondering what foods you can eat on a gluten-free diet? Don't worry — you still have a range of alternatives and food groups to enjoy. Your selection prohibits many kinds of grains, cereals, bread, and noodles, but most segments of the food pyramid are available. The following list of gluten-free foods are the main foods you can opt for on a gluten-free plan.
1. Gluten-Free Grains
Not all grains contain the type of gluten that irritates people with celiac disease and typical gluten sensitivity. Gliadin is the culprit that is harmful in these cases, which chiefly exists in wheat and grains in its family.
In fact, some grains that have ancient roots are uniquely hearty and flavorful. Here are the gluten-free grains you can substitute in baking:
2. Gluten-Free Starches
After diving into the gluten-free diet, you can miss the filling goodies you once snacked on. However, starches are gluten-free, and they can be a substantial portion of your meals.
Whether you need a boost after your workout or some healthy comfort food, gluten-free carbs are satisfying. These are the starches you can rely on to quench your hunger and elevate your cooking:
3. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds can be roasted, raw or mixed into your trail mixes and cereals. Here are the many types you can pick from:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Poppy seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Fruit is a naturally sweet delicacy that doubles as a gluten-free staple. It can serve as a sugar substitute at breakfast, snack or dessert time, and there are a few forms it can take.
Fresh fruit like sliced watermelon, juicy berries, and crisp apples are delicious options that can complement meals. Frozen and canned fruit are also unaffected by gluten.
From your childhood, you know that it's wise to eat your veggies. Produce doesn't have gluten unless it's been added in packaging or manufacturing.
You can fix colorful salads, sides of cooked vegetables and cut up raw vegetables. Canned and frozen vegetables also have plenty of vitamins and fiber to keep you feeling your best.
As long as they're not coated with a flour batter for frying or baking, meats and fish are free of gluten. Marinades, toppings and dipping sauces that dress up meat dishes might have gluten in them, but the actual meat is okay for gluten-free diets.
However, deli meats, imitation seafood or hot dogs can be tainted with gluten from supplementary ingredients. Those with a gluten-free label continue to be acceptable items.
Whether it's beef or poultry, ground or specialty cuts, meats don't originally have gluten. It's a good idea to include meat in your diet because iron, zinc, and protein are useful in enhancing your well being.
You can still chow down on all the creamy kinds of dairy foods you love on a gluten-free routine — cream, cheese, and butter have no gluten.
No matter the percentage, regular milk is fine to consume. Also, non-dairy kinds of milk like almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk don't include gluten.
Ice creams without added gluten products like cookie pieces are safe, as well.
Foods That Are Not Gluten-Free
Understanding what you have to cross off your grocery list is important. Not all gluten-loaded products are obvious, and your health may depend on your maintaining a gluten-free diet diligently.
1. Wheat and Wheat Derived Foods
The most common source of gluten that you'll run across is wheat. Wheat-derived foods and beverages are on most menus, and you can feel like they're hard to avoid.
Subspecies of wheat are also sources of gluten. You might try to pick up a bag of these grains to stick to your diet, but the following grains are filled with gluten:
Wheat is in an array of foods like buns, bagels, cookies, tortillas and many more. From daybreak to evening, meals feature gluten, and you'll need to find gluten-free substitutes for the following foods:
- Pie crust
Barley, a less sought-after grain, is also restricted in ground flour form and intact grains. It can be present in cold cereals and muesli, but sometimes it's cooked like warm oatmeal.
You might find malt in an ice cream shop in a malted milkshake, and this flavoring comes from barley. Vinegar and syrup can also be malted to alter the taste.
Steer clear of barley bread, malted foods, and mixed barley dishes.
Rye is the third grain that gluten-free diets exclude. In bread, rye carries an intense taste, and pumpernickel bread is a pungent version of rye bread.
Cereal with rye in it can either be flaked or puffed.
4. Gluten-Based Alcohol
You may forget your gluten-free commitment when it comes to beverages, but drinks can have gluten. Grains are elements in different alcohols.
Beer is comprised of wheat or barley, and the fermentation process retains the gluten. Other grains can prevent gluten from entering your refreshing beverages, like sorghum.
However, the distilling method of liquor like whiskey is considered gluten-free, although it's made of barley or rye.
5. Little-Known Gluten-Filled Foods
Glutenous products can make their way into your meals because it's easy to miss additives. To protect you from eating one of these foods, review the ingredients in these foods:
- Dressings and dips
- Greek yogurt
- Packaged spices
- Processed spreads
- Seasoned chips
- Soy sauce
How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet
Now that you know what's permitted and limited on a gluten-free diet, are you ready to start? Going gluten-free means you can transform your kitchen into a gluten-free haven. Here are the first steps to initiating the diet.
1. Clear out Gluten From Your Pantry
Sneaky items in your cupboards or pantry can tempt you when you spot them down the road. Getting rid of your cake mixes, muffin packages, and cakey desserts is the first move to achieve a blank slate.
Examine the labels on your cans, boxes, and packages, and create sorting piles for what you'll keep and give away.
You don't have to toss your goods in the garbage. You can donate unexpired food to local food banks, charities or shelters.
Crack open your fridge and freezer to go through the same system. Hidden foods at the back of your freezer can go overlooked, but you don't want to accidentally dig into a glutenous freezer food when you're 12 weeks into the diet.
2. Stock up on Gluten-Free Snacks and Meals
Next, you get to do a shopping spree. You can gather gluten-free foods to replace what you discarded and collect ingredients for your go-to dishes.
You can purchase kitchen necessities like gluten-free flour, oats, pasta, pancake mix, and cereal.
Health food stores, specialty shops, and online suppliers can offer certified gluten-free products and give you a vast line-up of tasty substitutes.
3. Scout out Restaurants With Gluten-Free Foods
When you go out to eat with friends, you can find your options are narrower than they once were.
Investigating the restaurants in your area can prepare you to know which cater to gluten-free eaters. If their websites don't list the ingredients or options, you can give them a phone call.
Helpful Tips for People on a Gluten-Free Diet
You can run into snags in the gluten-free diet as you go, but advice can save you from certain setbacks and share handy tricks. Here are some fundamental tips to get you started.
1. Beware of Cross-Contamination
During production, foods that are inherently gluten-free can come into contact with wheat and other glutinous grains. They can be distributed into the foods and bump up the amount of gluten they contain.
This is why labels and proper certification is critical. Familiarize yourself with the different names of gluten ingredients and the specifications of labels.
2. Find Safe Versions of Your Favorites
Joining the gluten-free movement doesn't mean you have to give up your top-rated foods. Because of the wave of gluten-free cooks who have gone before you, there are scores of gluten-free recipes.
Track down substituting ingredients for your favorite dishes on gluten-free websites, and devour a healthy alternative to your regular recipe.
3. Try Meal Planning
You can pick a day to fix larger portions of meals and split them into containers for the rest of the week. Cooking casseroles or soups early can help you organize your eating in the midst of work and social responsibilities.
Bringing your own foods to get-togethers can also resolve the problem of finding gluten-free foods at potlucks and parties.
4. Consult a Dietitian or Nutritionist
If you don't fill your diet with the correct nutrients as you drop gluten, you can become deficient in key areas. Fiber is one of the nutrients people commonly lack when they avoid grain.
Experts on diet and nutrition can help you learn the best way to supplement these nutrients. You can benefit from a dietitian or nutritionist's knowledge as you adjust to a new diet.
If you have a gluten intolerance, allergy or celiac disease, consult your doctor and keep them updated on your progress.
Shop Gluten-Free Products at Sincerely Nuts
Compiling a gluten-free assortment to keep you full and content is crucial. You can find yummy snacks, appetizing breakfasts, enticing lunches, and scrumptious dinners to set you up for success.
At Sincerely Nuts, we carry the nuts and gluten-free snacks you need to make the switch. We are devoted to quality and customer service, and our selection can help you begin your special diet.
Browse our collection of gluten-free foods and start stocking your kitchen today.
Published: May 14, 2019