If you've been diagnosed with sensitivity to gluten or your doctor has suggested that you go gluten-free, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. After all, gluten can be difficult to identify in the ingredient lists of some foods if you aren't sure what you're looking for. Here are some tips to make the gluten-free conversion a success.
Understand What to Avoid
One of the first things you need to do when you're diagnosed with gluten sensitivity is to start identifying the gluten sources in your diet. You'll need to avoid all forms of wheat, barley, and rye. This means avoiding most commercial breads and foods made with traditional flour or other derivatives of these grains. If your sensitivity is severe, you may even be advised that cross-contamination risk and indirect exposure is a concern as well. In those cases, you'll need to choose foods made in an exclusively gluten-free environment.
Learn About Food Labels
One of the most important parts of managing a gluten-free diet involves understanding food labels. Gluten isn't always obvious in an ingredient list. Look for labels that include a wheat allergen warning, but also check the ingredient list for any additional forms of these grains. Avoid anything malted as well as graham flours and wheat proteins.
Expand Your Produce Preferences
One of the best options for gluten-free diets is the produce section of the grocery store. Fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free when purchased in their whole, traditional form. You can even use your new diet as an opportunity to try new produce. Consider buying one product each week that you've never tried before. This will help you expand your diet gradually.
Focus on Safe Grains
Gluten-free diets eliminate many grains, but there are a few that you can safely add to your menu. Invest in rice and quinoa as alternatives. Quinoa is a unique grain that cooks up to a similar texture as couscous. It is a versatile addition to most any dish, because it can take on most any flavor you add to it.
When it comes to rice, that allows you a lot of versatility. You can add many types to your pantry, including brown rice, wild rice, basmati, jasmine, and even arborio rice. If you have never made risotto, this is a great opportunity to try it out. If you're a pasta fan, look for pastas made from rice flour.
Going gluten-free doesn't mean sacrificing all of your favorite foods. You can make homemade breads from rice flour or almond flour, giving you the freedom of breads without the worry of the gluten reactions. Understanding how to take control of your diet will help you to manage your meal choices properly. Consider also participating in celiac disease treatment research.
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