What Is a Gluten-Free Diet?
Most people believe that the simplest and quickest way to lose weight is by starting a gluten-free diet. Eating a 100% gluten-free diet is beneficial for people with wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, intolerant to gluten, and a way of managing celiac disease. A gluten-free diet involves excluding foods containing the protein gluten, including barley, wheat, and rye.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains like barley, wheat and rye and their derivatives including yeast and malt. Gluten helps in maintaining the shape of food by providing moisture and elasticity. It gives food a chewy texture and allows bread to rise. Most foods are made with gluten-containing ingredients.
If you are gluten intolerant, it’s important to avoid it altogether as you might experience severe discomfort or even suffer adverse health effects. When buying food products, it’s crucial to check the ingredients label keenly.
Why is gluten bad for some people?
Most people can comfortably eat gluten without experiencing any side effects. However, there are some people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Here are two key reasons why you would want to avoid gluten.
It is an autoimmune disease whereby the body assumes gluten is a foreign threat. To combat this “threat,” the body overreacts and attacks gluten proteins. People with celiac disease often experience constipation, bloating, sharp stomach pain, stomach discomfort, weight loss, diarrhea, anemia, tiredness, and depression. The attack causes damage to the gut wall leading to severe digestive issues, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, and an increased risk of many harmful diseases.
Gluten sensitivity (non-celiac gluten sensitivity)
People with gluten sensitivity feel uncomfortable eating gluten. However, they don’t test positive for wheat allergy or celiac disease. The symptoms for gluten sensitivity are similar to those of celiac disease, and they include bloating, stomach pain, changes in bowel movement, eczema or rash, and tiredness.
Health benefits of a gluten-free diet plan
A gluten-free diet provides lots of health benefits. It can help ease digestive symptoms, reduce inflammation, boost energy levels, and even help you lose weight. Ingredients in a gluten-free diet plan are naturally gluten-free as well as safe for people have allergies to some food groups. Some benefits of a gluten-free diet include:
1. Relieve digestive symptoms
A gluten-free diet plan is perfect for people trying to treat digestive problems such as constipation, bloating, gas, diarrhea, among other symptoms. It helps ease gastrointestinal symptoms and significantly helps reduce stomach pains, nausea, and frequent diarrhea.
2.Reduce chronic inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body heal and treats infections. However, gut-related swelling can get out of hand, resulting in chronic inflammation, which can result in numerous health problems. A gluten-free diet can help reduce chronic inflammation. It can also help treat gut-related damage caused by gluten-related inflammation.
Nutrient deficiencies such as iron deficiency can lead to anemia especially for those with celiac disease. This can result in someone feeling tired or sluggish. A gluten-free diet can help boost energy levels.
4.Help lose weight
Losing weight after starting a gluten-free diet is not unusual. This is because it eliminates most foods that add unwanted calories to your usual diet. With a gluten-free diet plan, these foods are replaced by lean proteins, veggies, and fruits. Focus on eating whole and unprocessed foods.
Losing Weight On a Gluten-Free Diet
Going on a weight loss journey can be incredibly challenging, but it’s all about making simple choices. Whether you need to shed 5 pounds or more, you require not only a lifestyle or diet change but also lots of patience. Good news is you can easily maximize the results of your journey through plenty of exercise, being careful with what you eat and of course, a diet devoid of gluten and wheat. Here are strategies to help you successfully lose weight when following a gluten-free diet.
1. Keep off processed gluten-free foods
You really need to steer clear of processed gluten-free foods. Some processed gluten-free, grain-based processed products actually contain a higher amount of calories compared to the usual wheat-based staples you are trying to replace. A product labeled “gluten-free” doesn’t mean its calorie-free.
2. Track your total calories
Calories in gluten-free food count just like calories in food containing gluten. However, going gluten-free tends to help in decreasing appetite and cravings for wheat-based treats. This helps in reducing the amounts of calories you consume. Don’t forget to keep track of the calories you consume a day and stay within the optimum calories recommended for your body.
3. In addition to a gluten-free diet, eat grain-free, paleo or low-carb
A gluten-free diet for weight loss works best with a low-carb diet. Limiting your consumption of high-carb foods and eliminating gluten-free grain-based foods will help you to achieve your weight loss dream easier. You, however, need to mind your nutritional needs while following a gluten-free, low carb diet.
4. Ensure you are absolutely gluten-free
It’s not uncommon to unknowingly consume gluten even when on a gluten-free diet. Eating small amounts of gluten and wheat regularly may affect your weight loss journey. Consider trying to eliminate all gluten and wheat by looking for gluten-free products and foods while eating out.
5. Always exercise
To accelerate your weight loss efforts you need to do more than cut gluten and wheat. Exercising efforts will helps lose fat while helping you build more muscle. Your new gluten-free diet should supplement not replace your daily fitness routine.
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Shopping for Gluten-Free Food
According to the Food and Drug Administration, foods that are labeled gluten-free must have less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. You need to read food labels to determine whether the food contains gluten, especially when buying processed foods. Foods containing rye, barley, wheat, triticale or ingredients derived from them, shows the name of these grains in the label’s content list. Foods made from gluten-containing grains also carry a label stating that they are “crafted,” “processed,” or “treated” to remove gluten if sold as gluten-free. Food and beverages labeled as gluten-free may include:
- Ingredient(s) containing gluten that has been proceed to remove gluten.
- Food that is naturally gluten-free.
- Prepared food or beverage with ingredients that don’t contain gluten.
- Food or beverage that hasn’t been cross-contaminated during production with gluten-containing ingredients.
Tips to prevent cross-contamination during food preparation and when eating out
- Wash your cooking equipment and dishes thoroughly.
- Research online if a restaurant has options for you before making a reservation.
- Store gluten-containing and gluten-free foods in different places.
- Eat out either early or late when the restaurant is less busy. This because they are better able to address your needs at these times.
- Gluten-free diet plan
Which Foods Are Gluten-Free?
Both animal and plant-based protein foods may contain gluten. However, most of these foods are naturally gluten-free. Sometimes ingredients in marinades, rubs, and sauces containing gluten are used as flavorings, filler, or accompaniment for protein foods.
Are eggs gluten-free?
Plain egg meals such as fried eggs, boiled eggs, and poached eggs made on a clean pan are gluten-free. Be careful when it comes to egg-based dishes such as eggs benedict and quiche. You need to watch out for cross-contamination when cooking eggs, specifically, utensils used.
Are beans gluten-free?
Beans are naturally gluten-free. If you are on a gluten-free diet, beans are a great source of vitamins, fiber, and protein. You need to be cautious when buying canned beans or packaged dry bean. Ensure that the additives don’t contain wheat flour, wheat starch, or other gluten-containing ingredients.
Is soy gluten-free?
Pure soybeans are gluten-free. Soy refers to either soy protein or soybeans. Most soy products include soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy flour, and soy milk are also gluten-free.
Is bacon gluten-free?
This salty breakfast goodness is gluten-free. Bacon is made out of pork belly, smoke flavor, salt, sugar, pepper, and nitrates. All these ingredients are gluten-free; however, most brands don’t guarantee gluten-free because of potential cross-contamination from the processing facilities or equipment.
Other gluten-free proteins include:
Seafood (shellfish, scallops, fresh fish); red meat (lamb, fresh beef, pork, bison); poultry (turkey, fresh chicken); soy foods (tempeh, tofu, edamame); legumes (peas, peanuts, lentils), nuts, and seeds.
Carefully read the label for:
Cold cuts or lunch meats; ground meats; processed meats like salami, hot dogs, sausage, and pepperoni; meat substitutes like vegetarian burgers; and ready-to-eat proteins.
Proteins to Avoid
Breaded poultry, meat or fish; seitan; proteins combined with wheat-based soy sauce; any meat, poultry or fish that has been breaded; and Proteins combined with wheat-based soy sauce.
Unprocessed dairy products include cheeses, plain yogurt, and plain milk. While flavored dairy products are those that have added ingredients which could contain gluten. Dairy products are naturally gluten-free, but you need to carefully read the label when it comes to flavored milk products. Common gluten-containing additives include modified food starch, thickeners, and malt.
Is milk gluten-free?
Plain cow’s milk and most dairy-based products are naturally gluten-free. Whether it’s regular, heavy cream, skim, or yogurt. Flavored milk, malted milk products as well as favored yogurts, on the other hand, may contain gluten. Reading the label to ascertain if a product contains gluten or not is essential.
Natural cheeses hardly contain gluten. Any cheese that has gone through additional processing like cheese spread or shredded cheese may contain. Gluten-free cheeses include cheddar, brie, parmesan, Swiss, ricotta, provolone, goat and feta cheese. Plant-based non-dairy cheese is also gluten-free but be sure to read the ingredients.
Is sour cream gluten-free?
Sour cream is generally gluten-free if it’s made of cream, lime juice or vinegar to thicken the cream and salt for flavor. However, processed sour cream may sometimes contain wheat-based additives as thickener or stabilizers.
Other gluten-free dairy products include:
Butter and ghee.
Carefully read the labels for:
Ice cream; processed cheese products like spreads and cheese sauces; and flavored yogurts and milk.
Dairy products to avoid:
Malted milk drinks
Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free. Processed fruits and vegetables may contain gluten from added flavors or thickeners.
Are French fries gluten-free?
French fries served at restaurants are usually not gluten-free. This is because they are often prepared in a fryer that is used for cooking wheat coated foods like onion rings and kitchen fingers. When it comes to cooking, avoid cross-contamination, and use gluten-free ingredients.
Are sweet potatoes gluten-free?
Sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free. Sweet potatoes are a versatile ingredient which can be easily incorporated in a gluten-free diet in lots of ways.
Some gluten-free fruits and vegetables include:
Apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, bell peppers, starch vegetables, mushrooms, radishes, onions, carrots, and green beans and radishes.
Carefully read the label for:
Dried, frozen, canned and pre-chopped fruits and vegetables.
Most whole grains are naturally gluten-free, but some contain gluten. When it comes to gluten-free whole grains, they may get lead cross-contaminated, especially if they are processed in a facility processing gluten-contaminating foods.
Is rye gluten-free?
Rye is not gluten-free. Its contain secalin, which is a form of gluten. Rye is used to make whiskey, bread, and other baked goods. Rye flour is usually combined with wheat flour to make baked goods as its denser, therefore, making heavier baked goods.
Does popcorn have gluten?
Popcorn kernels are naturally gluten-free. Popcorn is made from corn, which doesn’t contain any gluten. Often corn is recommended as a safer substitute to wheat. When buying flavored or commercial popcorn brands ensure that the additives don’t contain gluten or cross-contamination.
Are corn chips gluten-free?
Corn chips are gluten-free. When buying or making corn chips ensure they aren’t cross-contaminated from ingredients or equipment used.
Is semolina gluten-free?
Semolina is not gluten-free. Semolina is made from durum wheat. The flour is usually coarse and yellow. Gluten-free alternatives to semolina include amaranth, buckwheat, garbanzo, rice, and potato starch flour.
Other gluten-free whole grains include:
Buy sella basmati, wild rice, brown rice, sorghum, quinoa, tapioca, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, oats, corn, and teff.
Grains to avoid:
All varieties of wheat, barley, triticale, rye. Grains containing gluten are generally used to make pasta, bread, cereals, snack foods, and baked goods.
Oils and fats
Oils and fats are naturally gluten-free. In some cases, they may contain gluten from thickening and flavoring additives.
Is olive oil gluten-free?
Plain olive oil is gluten-free because it only contains olives. This makes olive oil great for gluten-free bread and pizza crusts. When buying flavored varieties of olive ensure they are gluten-free.
Other gluten-free oils and fats include:
Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, seed and vegetable oils like canola, sunflower and sesame oil.
Carefully read the label for:
Cooking sprays and spiced or flavored oils.
Spices, Herbs, Condiments, and Sauces
Herbs are naturally gluten-free. Most spices, condiments, and sauces contain gluten. This is because gluten-containing ingredients are sometimes added to them as flavor enhancers, emulsifiers or stabilizers.
Is soy sauce gluten-free?
Soy sauce is one of the oldest and staple condiments. You can use it for preservation and seasoning, particularly to maintain a salty flavor while reducing sodium in dressings, sauces, and marinades. Unfortunately, soy sauce isn’t gluten-free because it’s made with fermented wheat. Tamari sauce is a gluten-free substitute for traditional soy sauce.
Is mayo gluten-free?
If you are obsessed with adding mayonnaise to your salad dressing or spreading this creamy white goodness to your sandwiches, have got great news for you. There is a wide selection of gluten-free mayonnaise. Always ensure to pick out a mayonnaise jar labeled gluten-free. Be careful with cross-contamination when it comes to homemade mayonnaise.
Is vinegar gluten-free?
Pure distilled vinegar is gluten-free. Apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, cane vinegar, and balsamic vinegar are types of gluten-free vinegar. You need to be careful with non-distilled, seasoned, and flavored vinegar as they may contain gluten.
Other gluten-free herbs, spices, condiments, and spices include:
Fresh herbs, and coconut aminos.
Carefully read the label for:
Salad dressing, mustard, ketchup, tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salsa, marinades, dry spices, pasta sauce, rice vinegar, stuffing and gravy mixes and bouillon, and stock cubes.
Spices, condiments, and sauces to avoid:
Malt vinegar, teriyaki sauce, and wheat-based soy sauce.
There is a wide array of beverages to enjoy while on a gluten-free diet. Sometimes beverages are mixed with additives which might contain gluten. Also, alcoholic beverages are made with barley, malt, and other grains which contain gluten.
Is gin gluten-free?
Gin is made from wheat, rye, barley, and corn. Although it’s made with a mixture of gluten grains, gin is distilled removing any harmful proteins. Making it safe for a gluten-free diet. Its however not impossible for gin to contain small traces of gluten even after the distillation process. To avoid gluten consider switching to wine, gluten-free beer, potato vodka, or rum.
Does wine have gluten?
Wine is naturally gluten-free. It’s made from grapes which don’t contain gluten. However, some aspects of the winemaking process sometimes introduce gluten to the final product. Generally, wine has less than the 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
Is coffee gluten-free?
Plain coffee is gluten-free. You need to be more careful with flavored coffee since they might have been cross-contaminated by gluten. In case you experience gastrointestinal symptoms from coffee switch to decaf.
Is coke gluten-free?
Coca-Cola’s coke and a majority of the sodas it manufactures are gluten-free. If you are unsure if a soda contains gluten, then refer to the nutrition facts label on the bottles or cans for a comprehensive ingredients list.
Other gluten-free beverages include:
Water, tea, 100% fruit juice, lemonade, soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, beers made from gluten-free grains, and hard ciders.
Carefully read the label for:
Pre-made smoothies, beverages with mix-ins or added flavorings and distilled liquor such as whiskey, gin, and vodka.
Beverages to avoid:
Malt beverages like wine coolers, non-distilled liquor, and lagers, beers, and ales made from grains containing gluten.
Other ingredients and additives
Is maltodextrin gluten-free?
Maltodextrin is gluten-free. This ingredient is a common food additive because it’s a thickening agent. Maltodextrin is found in a lot of processed foods like candies, soft drinks, infant formulas, and even beer.
Is modified food starch gluten-free?
Modified food starch is usually derived from corn, waxy maize, or even potatoes. Therefore, modified food starch is gluten-free. Ensure the label specifies that it doesn’t contain wheat.
Is brown sugar gluten-free?
Brown sugar is gluten-free. However, read the label to ensure that you are buying a product that is processed and packaged in a gluten-free environment.
Which Brands Are Gluten-Free?
Famously known as a gluten-free cereal brand, Arrowhead Mill guarantees gluten-free ingredients and foods for its customers. The brand provides a vast array of products perfect for a gluten-free lifestyle. Other products include gluten-free breakfast foods, flours, baking mixes and ingredients, nut butter, beans, grains, seeds, rice, and cooking mixes.
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Against the Grain Gourmet
Well known for its wheat-free bread, against the grain gourmet bakes gluten-free products. The brand uses naturally gluten-free ingredients and innovative artisan techniques to bind and stabilize.
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Henriot Brut Souverain
A flagship Cuvee from Champagne Henriot, it makes a perfect gluten-free wine. The wine’s lightness makes it an ideal companion to your gluten-free dinner. Made from green apples the wine features fruity citrus notes.
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Even though a gluten-free diet may seem limiting there so many delicious and healthy options to promote optimal health and keep stomach health happy. Here is a sample menu and meal suggestions for delicious gluten-free meal options
Sausage egg muffins
Cuisine: kid-friendly Servings: 12 muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes.
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (you can substitute with your favorite cheese)
1 cup cubed gluten-free sausage
½ cup spinach leaves, chopped
½ cup onion and peppers, diced
1 teaspoon coconut oil
¼ tablespoon pepper
¼ tablespoon salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Use the coconut oil to grease a 12 coconut muffin pan.
- Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them.
- Add the pepper, salt, and cheese into the bowl and mix.
- Evenly fill ¾ of the muffin cups with the egg mixture. Equally, divide the diced sausages and veggies into the muffin cups.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
Other gluten-free breakfast ideas
- Banana berry smoothie — 1/2 cup mixed berries, 1/2 medium banana, 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt.
- Omelet with veggies.
- Two poached eggs with a slice of gluten-free bread.
- Overnight chia seed pudding — 2tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, sliced fruits and 1 cup Greek yogurt. Let the chia pudding mixture in a mason jar or bowl overnight.
- Gluten-free toast with avocado and an egg.
- Oatmeal with berries.
- Mushroom and zucchini frittata.
Cuisine: quick & easy, low carb, kid-friendly Servings: 2
Prep time: 10 minutes.
1 can tuna, drained.
3 cups mix salad greens.
1 Medium tomato cut into wedges
2 tablespoons gluten-free mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon seedless raisins
1 ½ teaspoons dill
1 teaspoon parsley, minced
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
- Add the tuna, raisins, red onions, parsley, dill, garlic salt, mayonnaise and thyme in a small bowl.
- Combine sour cream and mayonnaise in another bowl. Then stir in the tuna mixture.
- Equally divide the salad greens between two plates.
- Add the tuna mixture to the tuna mixture and top with tomato wedges.
Other gluten-free lunch ideas.
- Chicken salad wrap. (Use a gluten-free wrap)
- Quinoa salad with sliced spinach, cucumber avocado and tomatoes.
- Chicken, lentil, and veggie soup.
- Chicken salad dressed in olive oil.
Steak served with zucchini and yams
Course: main course Servings: 6
Prep time: 25 minutes. Cook time: 55 minutes
1 1/2 Pounds, cut lengthwise into 4 steaks
2 Medium Zucchini, diagonally cut into 1-inch slices.
1 Pound Yams
1 clove garlic, crushed.
1 handful seedless raisins
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high.
- Line a baking tray with a baking sheet. Place the yams on the baking sheet and drizzle oil. Bake the yams for 30 minutes at 350° for 30 minutes or until soft.
- As the yams cook, mix olive oil, lemon zest, thyme, rosemary, raisins, salt and pepper into a small bowl.
- Place the zucchini in a separate bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of the herb mixture.
- Use another tablespoon of the remaining herb mixture on the steak.
- Grill the steak for 10 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
- Once done, place the steak on a plate and let it rest.
- Grill the zucchini slices, until crisp-tender and well-marked.
- Place zucchini on a plate and sprinkle with lemon juice.
- Serve the yams, steak, and zucchini.
Other gluten-free dinner ideas
- Baked salmon served with baked potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and green beans.
- Shrimp skewers served with a garden salad.
- Steak tacos — steak, mushroom, and spinach. Use gluten-free corn tortillas.
- Garlic and butter shrimp served with a side salad.
- Chicken and broccoli stir-fry served with a small side of rice.
- Grilled lamb served with a variety of roasted vegetables.
- Roasted chicken and veggies quinoa salad.
This sample gluten-free menu and food suggestions are sure to provide a variety of nutritious food options for you to enjoy throughout the week.
Helpful tips to follow a gluten-free diet successfully
- Always read food labels so that you can identify gluten-free foods.
- Tell your family and friends that you are on a gluten-free diet. They are more likely to choose places that provide gluten-free options when eating out.
- Make your meals more enjoyable by picking up a gluten-free cookbook. This will help you be more creative when preparing meals.
- Plan your diet around whole single-ingredient foods such as fruit, vegetables, and lean meat. Research for places to shop and eat when traveling out of town or abroad.
- Pack your own food while visiting family or friends over an extended period. This is one of the easiest ways for you to be comfortable at the dinner table.
Lots of healthy foods are naturally gluten-free. This means you can still have a well-balanced diet without gluten. To successfully follow a gluten-free diet, you need to carefully read and double check ingredient labels. If you are unsure whether a product is gluten-free, it’s always a good idea to contact the manufacturer for clarifications. Work on minimizing on processed foods and instead focus on eating whole, fresh gluten-free. With a gluten-free diet, effortlessly lose unnecessary pounds, enjoy a happy stomach and optimal health with the plenty delicious and easy to find gluten-free meal options.