Have you seen the gluten free shelves in the supermarket expanding? Many people are aware of their gluten sensitivity or even have coeliac disease. And the gluten-free food industry is eagerly stepping in. Which doesn’t mean that gluten free products are necessarily healthy: they’re almost always highly processed and contain lots of sugar, soy and processed oils.
So what to do if you want or need to go an a healthy gluten free diet? Here are some tips to help you transition:
- Shop on the outside aisles of your supermarket. That’s where the healthy foods are usually located. So stock up on organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats and eggs among others.
- Read labels! When you buy packaged foods, it’s important to understand what they contain. Foods that include wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or kamut contain gluten. Also, look for words like “spices,” “flavoring,” “modified food starch,” “maltodextrin,” “glucose syrup,” and “citric acid.” These can all contain gluten. Be sure to read the ingredients list and also the “contains” section of food labels.
- These are the grains you can eat: quinoa, teff, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and amaranth. If you want to try oats, look for the gluten free ones. They’re not more processed than the regular ones, just grown and rolled in a safe way.
- “Gluten-free” doesn’t necessarily mean ‘healthy‘. Especially stay away from gluten-free cakes, sweets and biscuits. They contain often loads of sugar and processed flours and are low in nutrients.
- Don’t buy any ready-made sauces and dressings. Make your own so you make sure they are healthy and without any gluten, sugar or processed ingredients.
- Go back to the kitchen and prepare your own meals. Chopping your veg and preparing your meal is a great way to unwind from a busy day. And it’s a lot cheaper as well!
- Find some great websites and blogs. Cooking healthy and delicious meals is so much easier now with all the inspiration you can find online. I love the Deliciouslyella blog. Her recipes are also dairy and refined sugar free. Mynewroots is another great and very creative one. And if you love baking and sweet treats, have a look at Livia’s kitchen. Start with two or three easy meals at first. Once you feel comfortable, move of to more challenging or time-consuming recipes.
- Get prepping. Make a big pot of soup and freeze it in portions. Make a batch of your favorite snacks with a friend. So that when you’re tired or uninspired you won’t be reaching for the not-so-good stuff. You’ll find more ideas in my free Healthy Eating on the Go guide.
- Know which alcohol to avoid. Gluten-free alcohol includes cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs, but remember that beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten.
Over to you! What are your top tips for going gluten free?