Gluten Free Food
Gluten Free Food and Beer
What does it say on the tin?
Gluten is an amino acid that acts like a binder in foods. Think of your muffins or favourite bread - gluten is what makes these foods nice and "gooey" and without it these foodstuffs would be so dry you'd most likely never want to eat them again!
But its not just in "wheat" gluten is found - it can also be found in barley and rye. Gluten can also be found in oats from cross contamination (at the processing factory). I know this from personal experience. After I was diagnosed with being coeliac (the condition of being allergic to gluten) I obviously started changing to a gluten free diet.
So I bought gluten free oats and made porridge for myself before heading off to college. Within an hour I was really sick and had to go home early from college sufffering really badly from cramps. The worst thing is people thought I was just hungover!
So oats and porridge (for me anyway) are a big no no!
But this is the way of it for people who are diagnosed with being coeliac - you'll spend a lot of time trying to discover what you can and cannot eat. For example all my favourite foods: muffins, bread, pasta etc were put on the "NO NO" list (more about that list later!).
So what is coeliac?
Coeliac is an auto-immune disease where after you eat gluten your body literally attacks your own intestinal system - and in the western world about 80% of coelicas are still not properly diagnosed!
Tell tale signs that you're allergic to gluten are usually after you eat bread, pancakes, muffins, pasta or any kind of wheat products -
- you feel bloated in your stomach and face
- you feel tired and lethargic
- sometimes get pink flushes or rashes on certain parts of your skin
- dry flaking skin or dry scalp
- sometimes even a tingling sensation in your fingers like you've just eaten a poison (which you kind of have!)
These are actually all of the conditions I suffered from before going onto a gluten free diet...
Just to note - I'm assuming you've gone to see a dietician or a doctor and have been fully diagnosed as gluten intolerant or as a coeliac. This hub is in no way is trying to make a diagnosis, rather act as a helping hand (from a fellow coeliac) to help you remain gluten free!
So now the difficult part?
Once you realise you want to start eating gluten free food - how do you make sure you stay on it?
Why do you want go gluten free?
Staying Wheat Free
So the first thing you need to do is get a pen and paper and write down your usual diet.
Write as much as you can down. For example:
- What's your usual breakfast: cereal? toast and jam? can of coke and mars bar? (really!!?) :)
- What about, lunch, dinner etc?
- What about the snacks you eat at work or at college?
- What do you eat at the weekend?
- What about after a night out, are you the one first in the queue for pizza?
Write a chart out from Monday - Sunday and fill in all the blanks. Don't cheat - the more honest you are the more you'll benefit.
Finished? Ok look at all the foods you eat that contain gluten...theres probably loads but just to make sure you're checking correctly - have a look at this great site which contains most of the foods you need to know about.
If you're unsure just google the food with gluten, for example "pretzel gluten". You'll get answers on everything.
Once you've got your list, you'll need to create a "no no" list - or whatever you want to call it!
Make this list and save it on your laptop, as over time you'll definitely add to it.
Great tip - Print up your "no no" list and put it on the inside of your main food cupboard. Trust me on this, even after a few days you'll begin to forget foods you can eat and can't. Make sure you've a constant reminder of all the danger foods.
Ok, you've decided to go gluten free and you know the culprits in your diet which you need to get rid of...but what next?
Ok this is the fun part - but it can also be quite a lengthy task. You're now going to rebuild your weekly diet with healthy, nutritious gluten free foods.
Where before you may have had toast and jam for breakfast now you need to choose a gluten free option: what about organic yoghurt and a mix of fruit and sesame seeds? Don't like fruit in the morning ok well why not check out this site and get a full list of gluten free foods.
Another important thing to note: If you have a sweet tooth and really like your cookies - gluten free cookies are nice (not always AS nice, but still nice) but are usually a lot more expensive. So you may consider buying gluten free flour and cooking your own or if you're absolutely loaded (unlike me) you can just buy the ready made ones.
But be sure that you do have snacks at the ready. The number one way you'll break your gluten free diet is by snacking when suffering a sugar low. This can happen in the evening, or an hour after lunch in the office...someone walks by and offers everyone a cookie...and you think "ahh one won't hurt" and before you know it you've downed 3 packs of chocolate chips and you're head is bloated like a balloon.
You've got to have gluten free snacks on you all the time - think of them as an emergency defense against gluten! Get a small plastic container and fill it with macadamia nuts and cranberries, or how about raisins and pine nuts. Theres millions of things you can choose from but just make sure you always have one to hand so you can stare the cookie temptation down - every time!
Socializing Sans Wheat
This is tough also. But going gluten free or being coeliac means you'll have to make adjustments to your lifestyle. So where before you may have gone out for dinner and just ordered what ever took your fancy, now you'll have to be more discerning.
For example, maybe you're thinking - "well, theres no gluten in steak, I think I'll get the fillet mignon...". But you need to ask about the sauce - all sauces contain flour which is of course made from wheat. Or what about finishing up with an eclair and a glass of wine? Once again you'll have to beware the eclair (the wine should be fine though, you'll be relieved to know)...
Beers are also primarily made from wheat and as they are normally drank in copious amounts you need to stay well clear of them. There are a few beers like Red Bridge, Bard's tale and La Messiere that are gluten free but they're very hard to get.
A lot more restaurants are catering for gluten free diets so when going out its always best to check the restaurants website or ring ahead and ask if they have any gluten free foods or beverages that you could have.
As I mentioned before, the thing with changing your diet is all about preparation. The lifestyle change seems very daunting at first but soon it becomes normal and you'll soon meet others who have already changed or are looking for an expert like you who can show them the ropes!
So keep researching and keep trying new recipes and soon your health will be more vibrant and your energy levels will be hopefully a lot higher too!