I was recently asked, on Twitter, about tips to being gluten free for beginners.
The best piece of advice I can give is to always read the labels and use common sense. My day job involves food packaging. I am always amazed at the different words for gluten and how some companies try to cover it up.
There should be clear labels on all products denoting common allergens avoiding any misconception, however, until that day comes it’s best to be uber aware of what ingredient statements mean.
Here are the many words for ingredients that contain gluten:
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- stoneground flour
- wheatgerm flour
- malted wheatgrain flour
- wholemeal four
- butter flavour
- Chocolate, pudding, candy, and frosting
- Creamer substitute
- Dextrin, dextrose
- Food dyes
- Herbs, spices
- Hydrolysates or hydrolyzed anything
- Miso and other soy products, such as soy sauce and teriyaki sauce
- Modified Food Starch (can be from other sources)
- Mustard Powder
- Nitrates, nitrites, sulfates or sulfites
- Oat Flour or oats
- Edible Starch
- Enriched Flour
- Graham Flour
- Granary Flour
- Hard triticum
- High Gluten Flour
- High protein Flour
- Vital Gluten
There are more, but this gives you an idea.
Let’s start at the beginning. You wake up to shower – is your soap/shampoo/conditioner gluten free? Is your toothpaste/mouthwash gluten free? What about your creams/make up/perfume?
Amazing how wheat can be in your everyday items. Being gluten free includes all these things.
What about breakfast? There are many options when it comes to gluten free bread and cereal, if you’re a traditionalist, but a protein smoothy is a great way to sneak in protein without really noticing.
I’m a big fan of Vega, it’s gluten free, vegan and free of most common allergens. Invented by a Canadian Iron Man, Brendan Brazier, Vega is easy to make and quick. I know I don’t have much time in the morning, due to my own fault, but at least I know I’ll get my fill of vitamins/minerals no matter what else I eat during the day. See Vega’s health claims here.
Here are the Nutritionals for the Chocolate flavour, my particular favourite, I suggest checking out the site for a non fuzzy version.
In between breakfast and lunch, I’m a big fan of snacking, I usually have a Larabar and or fruit/nuts at my desk.
Lunch can consist of anything, if you’re willing to put in effort or find a restaurant you know that can promise a non contaminated meal. It doesn’t have to be all salads and bird seed. You can have a sandwich on gluten free bread, or gluten free pasta, gluten free pizza – anything really. It’s just a mental thing interms of breaking free from the, “What the heck am I going to do now?!” thinking. Being gluten free just requires a bit more thought in terms of your meals. The difference being to walk into any restaurant and feel comfortable with the handling and preparation of food.
Eating at restaurants is a bit harder in terms of finding people who really understand what gluten can do to you if ingested. I find the closer you are to a city the easier it is.
Say goodbye to drinking: beer, whiskey, malt based drinks, gin and some vodkas. All of these drinks are made with some form of gluten. I find I’ve come to appreciate wine more. I was also pleasantly surprised that my favourite vodka, Iceberg Vodka, was gluten free.
There’s gluten in the candy coating shell in Smarties, Blue Cheese, Rice Krispies and a number of surprising places just to name a few. It takes a while to adjust passing by rows and rows in the grocery store that contain gluten. It’s a shame really, but that just opens the doors to more natural fruits and vegetables that are gluten free and much better than anything processed could be. On the bright side, it gets you cooking and more aware of your health than ever before – not really a bad thing?
Hopefully this post has helped.