The biggest challenge for people with gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease is often knowing where to start. It can be a shock to find out that you must adhere to a gluten-free diet in order to get well. In the beginning, people find out quickly that a startling number of foods, particularly processed foods, contain wheat, barley, or rye. It can be so overwhelming for some that they don’t know where to even start. No worries! This article will outline the easiest to follow and fastest way to start living gluten-free and getting on the road to recovery.
stoppedThis series is based on my own experience as a celiac. You should consult a nutritionist or medical doctor to make sure this is safe for you. If you would like to know more about how I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and my experience leading up to diagnosis you can read: Celiac Disease: How I stoped the pain.
The first step is to adhere to a basic, whole food and gluten-free diet. Whole foods are simply foods that have very little, or no processing and as close to their natural state as possible. Here are some simple points on how to identify processed foods verse whole foods:
- A good rule of thumb is if it comes in a box or bag, it probably isn’t whole food.
- If the ingredient section of the label lists several things you’ve never heard or can’t pronounce, it’s probably not a whole food.
- In most cases, if it is a sauce or juice, it’s probably not whole food.
- Most things in the center of the grocery store. Whole foods tend to be on the outside walls of a store.
Now that you know what whole foods aren’t, we’ll cover what foods I consider whole foods.
- All fruits, in their natural state, or if you juice them yourself.
- All veggies, in their natural state, or cooked and seasoned with oils and seasonings labeled gluten-free.
- All meats if purchased fresh that isn’t prepared outside your home (unseasoned or marinated). You can of course season as you see fit with oils and seasonings labeled gluten-free
- Rice of any kind, that’s purely rice and you prepare yourself. Fried rice from restaurants, preseasoned rice in bags(Uncle Ben’s..ect), and other processed rice may have gluten in them. If in doubt, just use plain white or brown rice.
Simply put, you will start by just eating whole foods and nothing else. This might seem very restrictive but in the beginning. However, when you’re feeling awful this is the easiest way to ensure you can eat healthy and gluten-free with minimal effort.
Luckily if you’re a fan of McCormick seasonings, most of them are gluten-free. If it’s not listed on the label it’s not in it. Just be sure to read the label and make sure it doesn’t mention wheat, barley, or rye. As an added bonus, all of the brands McCormick owns including “Franks Red Hot Sauce” follow the same philosophy so you can put that shit on everything! Other brands owned by McCormick: French’s, Grill Mates, Lawry’s, Stubb’s, and Zatarain's. Again read the label to be sure but most of these season brands are safe.
Clean out the cupboards
Some newly diagnosed celiacs or folks just starting out on a gluten-free diet may have difficulties sticking to it. The lack of adherence is due to lack of knowledge or due to temptation. If you could be easily enticed into eating gluten foods if you see them in the cupboard you may be best served by tossing out all of your gluten foods. This may be difficult to do, even more so if you are the only one in the house that is gluten sensitive. It may not be practical or fair to others in the home to toss out foods that are safe for everyone but you. However, it’s something you can discuss with your family and see where they stand. Most homes with a celiac naturally become low gluten homes at the least just because one meal for all is easier than making separate meals.
Well, that’s all for this installment. This is just the first article in a series on “The Gluten-Free Diet Crash Course”. In future installments, I will discuss reading food labels, the role of processed foods in the healing process, how intermittent fasting can help you heal, and also a beginner’s fitness program to help you recover.