Sharing 7 easy gluten free tips for beginners or someone who may be newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease, to help jump start the process of eliminating gluten from their diet!
May kicks off National Celiac Awareness month! In honor of that, I wanted to share 7 super easy gluten free tips for beginners OR anyone who may be a newly diagnosed Celiac. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which is an autoimmune disease, back in 2014 after my Freshman year of college. It was definitely an adjustment to learn how to first cut out all of the gluten I was eating prior to my diagnosis, which is why I wanted to share these gluten free beginner tips today in case anyone can relate!
I first went gluten free prior to receiving my Celiac diagnosis because I was struggling with a few things health related & eliminating gluten made sense for me at the time. I experienced a bit of a learning curve in the beginning & was quickly overwhelmed thinking about how I was going to maintain my new gluten free diet. Being overwhelmed when first going gluten free is not uncommon – like I said, I have definitely been there, which is the reason for today’s post! I wanted to share some easy & doable gluten free tips for beginners, because a gluten free diet IS doable & the sooner you start, the better you’ll feel!
Especially if you have received a Celiac diagnosis or simply have a gluten allergy, it’s going to be crucial to make sure you’re eating in full compliance to a gluten free diet or you will continue to struggle with painful side effects. Some people definitely have a more severe reaction to gluten than others, but regardless, many have reactions & they needs to be taken seriously in order to feel better, especially if you are Celiac. If left untreated, Celiac can spiral into other, more severe health conditions. You can read more about what it means to have Celiac Disease in this post.
However, you don’t have to have Celiac or even a gluten allergy to start eliminating gluten from your diet. There are many benefits of a gluten free diet including reduced inflammation, bloat, headaches, join pain, as well as, increased energy, improved skin health, moods, & bone health (source). So as you can see, there are a variety of appealing reasons & improved health benefits into why someone would want to learn how to go gluten free!
If you’re a newly diagnosed Celiac, a gluten free beginner, or find yourself lost on how to eat gluten free, I hope the seven tips below can help point you in the right direction!
Gluten Free Tips for Beginners
1. Do a pantry audit & start swapping out your everyday items
Once you receive a Celiac diagnosis or decide that you want to explore a gluten free diet to benefit your health, you’ll want to do a pantry & fridge audit to clear out anything you are currently using or eating that contains gluten or a potential form of gluten such as anything containing natural flavors, artificial flavors, caramel color, modified food starch, & maltodextrin. You’ll want to check out this post which shares more sneaky names for gluten, such as the ones I mentioned! Ingredients like such are extremely common, especially in packaged or processed foods & can be derived from wheat & barley.
Below are a few common pantry items that contain gluten & can easily swapped out for a gluten free alternative. Even 5 or so years ago, there were a lot less options when it came to gluten free grocery shopping. It’s been amazing to see the fantastic alternatives that have come to market over the past few years. Gluten free alternatives in a variety of price points can now be found at most local grocery stores, including Walmart, Target, Aldi’s, Trader Joe’s, & of course Whole Foods Market!
Pantry Items That Contain Gluten:
- White flour
- White or wheat bread
- Flour tortillas
- Pancake, waffle, muffin, cookie, or brownie mix
- Soy Sauce
- Chips or crackers
2. Read food & ingredient labels when shopping
The quicker you get used to reading food & ingredient labels when shopping, the better! As I mentioned above, there are many sneaky ingredients such as rye, barley, malt, or triticale, that contain gluten. This is why it’s crucial to read the ingredients before purchasing. Most items will visibly display a gluten free label. Seeing those labels can be really helpful if you’re learning how to go gluten free or if you’re a newly diagnosed Celiac.
With that said, ALWAYS read labels! Sometimes there will be a product that won’t outright say “gluten free” but will be naturally gluten free! In this case, as long as you can read the ingredients & understand their meaning, you should be good to go!
3. Focus on whole foods & don’t rely on gluten free packaged/processed foods
There is definitely a misconception that gluten free foods are immediately healthier or better for you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I see the same happening for vegan or plant based foods too. Did you know Oreo’s are vegan & Cheetos are gluten free? Well they are & definitely not at the top of the list of healthy foods you should be fueling your body with! Gluten free labels definitely serve a purpose for those looking to avoid gluten. However, gluten free labels can be used to trick consumers into thinking the product is healthier than it is. This is a form of “greenwashing”!
I always recommend focusing on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, meat, poultry, & fish (if you aren’t vegan), first & foremost when transitioning to a gluten free diet. Whole foods really make up the basic principles of a gluten free diet. Why? Because most real, whole foods are naturally gluten free – which is amazing!
4. Play around with modifications on your favorite meals
I’ve been gluten free for almost 8 years & have truly learned how to modify all of my favorite foods! There’s nothing that I feel is lacking in my life because of my gluten allergy. I’m confident that you will find the same once you start playing around in the kitchen!
Take a look at your favorite recipes & swap the ingredients that doesn’t make it gluten free, for a gluten free alternative & you’re pretty much set! It’s seriously that easy!
5. Have available snacks on hand for when you’re out & you’re lacking options
As with any “diet”, it’s incredibly easy to fall back into old ways when you’re in an inconvenient situation. Especially when that situation includes a lack of food choices. However, if you do have Celiac Disease, cheating on your gluten free diet isn’t an option for most. In order to always be in control of my surroundings & what I put into my body, if I go somewhere that I know won’t have sufficient options for me to eat, I always brings snacks to suffice my hunger until I’m home & can have a full meal.
Consider always carrying something small on hand to snack on! My favorite gluten free snack is hands down a GoMacro bars (use code madi_rowan for 25% off), they’re also a fantastic source of plant based protein! A few more gluten free on the go snack ideas can be anything from a piece of fruit, a bag of mixed nuts, gluten free crackers, a piece of dark chocolate, or a homemade muffin, just to name a few!
6. If you consume alcohol, know which ones are safe to drink
Of course, this only applies to those over 21+ who do consume alcohol. If you do, I’d suggest switching to a gluten free option ASAP! Most grocery stores carry gluten free alcohol options. When you’re shopping, be sure to look for a gluten free label to be certain! Alcohol can be a sneaky source of gluten in your diet & one that you might not even think of since it’s not a food!
7. Speak up when ordering out!
When ordering out, you’re going to want to be as vocal as possible regarding your gluten allergy or intolerance. If you’re not already comfortable making modifications when ordering, this part may be an adjustment. With that said, please know, most restaurants are very accommodating to gluten allergies, especially in today’s world!
Over the years, I’ve gotten very comfortable asking servers questions about things like sauces, veggie burger patties, french fries, sushi rolls, & desserts because in many cases, gluten can be snuck into things you may not have guessed! So never feel bad for asking questions & getting clarifications on ingredients used. I’d rather ask a handful of questions then deal with a painful flare after experiencing an accidental gluten contamination. Trust me when I say, it’s worth it to speak up! You are going to be your best advocate!
I hope these tips for going gluten free were helpful, if you’re just starting your gluten free or Celiac journey! There are fantastic gluten free options on the market today & an abundance of amazing recipes – you can check out some of mine here – to make gluten free meals, dining, baking, & snacking just as enjoyable as your old favorites!
Are you gluten free? Let me know in the comments below!