What is Gluten?
Gluten is a family of proteins that are found in many grains like wheat, barley and rye – among MANY others! Those of us who deal with thyroid issues really need to be gluten free for several reasons actually. (Learn more in my thyroid challenge) They are hard to digest naturally and can wreak havoc on the body for anyone who is remotely sensitive and we tend to be. Gluten is a leading contributor to a sluggish thyroid. So just how do we start living gluten free? Well let’s get a jump start.
“De-Glutenize” Your Kitchen
When you decide to go gluten-free you have to prepare yourself for a bit of a learning curve. Don’t expect to figure it all out overnight. Allocate an appropriate amount of time to go through your cupboards and pantry. Check all condiment labels and salad dressings. Carefully inspect ingredient labels on prepackaged soups, rice and pasta dishes.
You will need to go through your freezer and refrigerator as well. Many frozen vegetable and meat mixtures have gluten in their sauces and gravies. This can seem like an overwhelming task so break it down to one cupboard or fridge shelf at a time to keep it manageable.
Once you start reading labels, you will find that many of the faithful foods you have been buying on auto-pilot every trip to the grocery store no longer fit within your new diet parameters. If these foods are still unopened and “brand new,” consider making a donation to your local food bank. Have an empty box handy at every “inspection” and pass on what you can no longer use.
Get Back to Basics
Vegetables, lean meats and pure dairy products are free from gluten. Unfortunately, the majority of our snack foods and prepared meals are highly processed. If you eliminate processed foods and go back to cooking from fresh ingredients, you will naturally be avoiding gluten most of the time. Try incorporating more salads, vegetables and homemade dips, homemade hummus and delicious soups into your weekly meals.
Caution on the gluten free “products”. They are still processed and denatured. The only difference is the type of flour they use – that’s it. Remember the words on a box “GLUTEN FREE” DOES NOT = HEALTHIER Always think veggies first. See my list of great go to’s that I have come to love below.
Be Aware of Your Own Body Signals
Simply relying on food labels may leave you vulnerable from time to time. You will know that you have mysteriously ingested some form of gluten when your skin or bowels suddenly flare up. Starchy fillers and cross-contamination may be the culprit and there are some truly shocking symptoms of gluten sensitivities. Make a comprehensive list of all of the names gluten and gluten related ingredients may masquerade as. Keep the list on your cell phone or in your wallet for easy reference. In time, you will memorize certain ingredients and know which to avoid. Check out this list I made for my challengers. It’s information like this that can set us up for success.
Learn More About It
You may also want to consider meeting with a nutritionist to help you with this huge lifestyle change. THE GOOD NEWS: I’m a certified nutritionist :-). Should you like my help you can reach out to me and/or join one of my challenges to learn tons about our thyroid health. Eating a well rounded diet helps insure you are still getting all of your minerals, vitamins and necessary nutrition from your new diet helps with healing and feeling better. Educating yourself about healthy, complex carbohydrates that are gluten-free can be exciting as well as challenging. As a certified nutritionist you can join me and my tribe of thyroid healthy mommas as well! These are things we dive into very deeply in my group. Where it’s hiding, the sneaky words, the symptoms, what is safer and far beyond.
Learning some new ways to cook your old favorites and how you can make healthier substitutions will help you feel empowered. Since some grains are either enriched or natural sources of many vitamins and minerals, it is important to ensure that you are still getting these once you eliminate those grains. So you definitely want to insure you are eating a well rounded and healthy diet.
The reality is that with a little care you will lose little nutrient value in letting go of gluten-based foods. Of more importance is to make sure the foods you take up as replacements are wholesome and healthy.
Good choices will add to your vitality; poor ones will mean simply changing one set of problems for another.
Eating Out in Restaurants
When you start living gluten free heading out to restaurants can feel scary but many menus are now incorporating gluten-free options since celiac disease, IBS and other issues have increased public awareness. As well, many exceptional eateries will be happy to accommodate your dietary needs if you give them enough advance warning. It can be nice to have some safe restaurants to visit when you want a break from preparing your own meals.
My Personal Staples to Help Me Stay Gluten Free
- SEAWEED CRISPS: I get mine at Costco but I love these with tuna or just as a general salty snack
- SUSHI WRAPS: These are awesome with anything as a bread alternative. I’ve done turkey, tuna, greens, rice etc. Really anything. I usually get these at meijer
- COCONUT WRAPS: I get these on amazon or ThriveMarket as I’ve never seen them in stores. I love these. It’s pure coconut meat super thin and my fav is with eggs and avocado for breakfast. I usually keep both flavors I took a pic of on hand.
- SPINACH WRAPS: These are so green lol but man are they tasty. Nothing like you would expect. They have a slightly sweet flavor from the apple. Seriously fantastic
- AVOCADO MAYO: This is by far my fav mayo. it’s clean and so good. I like the flavor better than any other brands I’ve tried and you don’t have to feel guilty using it. Good ingredients. I get mine at Costco now that they have it – but amazon before they did
- NO COW BAR: I keep these on hand for emergencies or when I just have to have a snack. No gluten, soy or dairy. I’ve had blueberry, raspberry and mint choc and like them all. Not something I eat all the time but it’s loaded with fiber and can be a good handy go to for those tough moments. Our local Kroger has them too.
- GLUTEN FREE OATS: You can get these in the store too but they are a tad more expensive. This is def my brand of choice. Oats are naturally GF but are highly cross contaminated so it’s recommend to get the GF version to be safe.
- GLUTEN FREE FLOUR: This is the flour I keep on hand for use as needed. I get it at Costco as well. I personally like the blend of flours they use.
- TACO SEASONING – YEP!!: You may be very surprised to learn that almost every single taco seasoning out there has wheat. Yeppers it’s a filler just like so many other frustrating foods have. I usually make my own but I do keep this one on hand for times I’m in a rush.
- CLOUD BREAD /OOPSIE ROLLS RECIPE: This is a fantastic recipe to use instead of bread. Yes it tastes like it’s bc well that’s what it is lol but it’s crazy good!
- SHAKEOLOGY: I truly believe in this shake, which is why I highly recommend my challengers try it. It doesn’t have gluten, soy and we even have a vegan milk free line. It’s not a cure but it’s truly is an incredible dose of nutrition. What Is Shakeology – OR – Understand the Ingredients
These are just a few staples to help you start living gluten free. I wanted to share them so you can see that there are some great, creative ways to keep gluten and soy both out of our diets 🙂