Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to Start Eating Gluten Free-Where to Start

It's really overwhelming when you are told you have to start eating gluten free. What is gluten? What is it in? What ingredients do I need to look for? My doctors office gave me almost no information and sent me on my way.

Gluten in a protien found in wheat, barley and rye. There is a lot of debate about oatmeal and whether it is safe. To me, oatmeal's just not worth the risk so I avoid it too.

Gluten is in a lot of foods. Pretty much everything in the bakery, cookie and cracker aisles. It's also in places you wouldn't expect like turkey, broth and soy sauce. It means you need to read the labels. And since formulations are changing constantly you need to read labels every single time you go shopping.

Here is the unsafe food list for gluten-free eating. I suggest printing it out and taking it to the grocery store with you, at least the first time shopping.

Plan some extra time your first few shopping trips. Reading all the labels and having to try 5 different chicken broths before you find one you can eat will take some time. Here's a couple of tips to get you in and out of the grocery store a little faster. The produce section is great. There's some debate over mushrooms (they are grown in a substance that contains wheat and could get caught in the gills) but pretty much everything else is good. Plain meat is pretty easy. Turkey is the most problematic since they often add broth to make it juicier and that is not always gluten-free. Occasionally you will see this with chicken too. Dairy is also pretty good. Yogurt and ice cream seem to be the hardest. Some yogurts, like yoplait, are labeling individual flavors gluten-free. If you don't go that route look for ones that are all natural. If there are only three or four ingredients it's much easier to make sure you can eat it. Especially if you can pronounce all the ingredient names.

Another great source of gluten-free foods is in the Asian food section. Just watch out for the soy suace. Most (not all) of it has wheat in it. Many dishes like pad tai and peanut noodles are made with rice pasta and they often have rice crackers too. I have been pleasantly surprised that these are often labeled "gluten-free" on the package.

I will continue this in another post. Still to come, gluten-free and medications, finding a support group, where to find recipes etc.


Although I would not deliberately give out incorrect information about eating gluten free and everything on this page is correct, to my knowledge, at the time I am writing this post, I can't guarantee its validity. Food formulations change constantly and please verify that any food you eat is gluten-free before consuming it if you are on a gluten-free diet.

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