By Daphne Goh
Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, gluten intolerance or wheat allergy, the only lifelong treatment is eliminating gluten altogether from your diet. Initially, going on a strict gluten-free diet may seem disheartening as gluten is present everywhere. Quite the contrary, it is much easier than you think as many foods are naturally gluten-free and also gives you the chance to prove your culinary creativeness. The following are a few simple guidelines to help you begin a gluten-free diet.
- Obtain a Diagnosis
It is crucial to get a diagnosis from your doctor before following a strict gluten-free diet. Tests for celiac disease need you to eat gluten consistently for at least 6 weeks beforehand to get correct results. If you have celiac disease, urge your family members to get tested as well since it is a genetic disorder; especially if they have other autoimmune conditions. Additional gluten-related disorders are gluten sensitivity, gluten/wheat intolerance, and wheat allergy.
- Elimination Diet
As there are currently no tests available for gluten sensitivity, an elimination diet can help you determine if you need a gluten-free diet and also if you have other food intolerance or food allergy. Work with your dietitian and/or doctor to exclude one food at a time to establish whether you have other food intolerance/allergy to eggs, dairy/casein, yeast, nuts, soy, corn, sesame, sugar, seafood, Fodmap, refined and oily food. Keep a food diary of food that you eat in order to help identify what you can consume and food makes you unwell.
- Grocery Shopping
When shopping for gluten-free food, be a food detective and always read the food label carefully as gluten can be found in many processed and packaged food. Look for "Gluten Free" accreditation and the "May Contain" declaration. Refer to your local celiac support groups for full lists of gluten-free food. Emphasize on a healthy balanced diet with naturally gluten-free food like lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy or substitutes like rice milk, soya milk, coconut milk and almond milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, lentils and nuts, and seeds. Make your food from scratch and do not over-rely on readymade gluten-free foods. They can often be costly and have more sugar and fats than gluten foods.
- Gluten-Free Kitchen
It is extremely vital to keep your kitchen, including your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, free from any cross contamination from gluten. Stock and mark all your gluten-free foods in airtight containers and keep them in the designated zone, away from gluten foods. Equally important is to have kitchenware reserved only for gluten-free cooking. This will include pots, pans, utensils, toasters, breadboards, strainers, flour sifters, butter dishes and cutting boards. Separate sponge and scrubber should be used for dishwashing. Additionally, gluten and gluten-free foods should not be prepared on common surfaces. When dining out, cross-contamination is a common problem.
- Alternative Grains and Flours
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye plus their by-products like triticale, spelt, durum, semolina, and einkorn plus oats. Conventional wheat products like bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and other baked pastries are not gluten-free. Experiment in your kitchen using naturally gluten-free cereals and grains like all types of rice including glutinous, potato, soya, corn/maize, sago, tapioca/cassava, arrowroot, buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum, lupin, teff, polenta, quinoa, chia seeds, Indian ricegrass (montina), rice bran, millet and certified gluten-free oats. Do your own baking with gluten-free flours made from all kinds of rice, corn/maize, coconut, soya, potato, sorghum, arrowroot, tapioca, chickpea (channa), flaxseed, besa/gram, lupin, amaranth, almond, and hazelnut. Likewise, gluten-free flour mixes are readily available for purchase.
- Hidden Gluten
There are other less obvious sources of gluten hidden in your everyday prescription medicines, over the counter drugs, supplements, toiletries like shampoos, conditioners and toothpaste, similarly in cosmetics like makeup, lipsticks, sunscreen, lotions, and soaps.
is the founder and owner of Healthy gf Asian
, a healthy, gluten-free, Asian recipe, food, and lifestyle blog. My blog focusses on easy gluten-free and delicious authentic Asian recipes based on lean meat, seafood, fresh fruits, and vegetables. I believe that gluten-free and allergy friendly recipes can be really tasty and yummy and no matter what food allergy, food intolerance or food sensitivity you have, you can still enjoy nutritious and scrumptious good food. For more information visit www.healthygfasian.com
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