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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Duerr

Navigating the Gluten-Free Lifestyle: Tips for Eating and Living Well

Gluten Free grains, rice, quinoa, legumes
Gluten Free Grains

Cutting out gluten doesn't mean sacrificing taste or nutrition. Focusing on naturally gluten-free foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy, and legumes not only ensures a balanced diet but also opens up a world of culinary possibilities. With some creativity and exploration, you can discover a wide range of delicious meals and snacks that don't contain gluten. Plus, these foods often come packed with essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, contributing to overall health and well-being.

Grains, Flours, and Starches

Many grains and starches are also naturally gluten-free, and products made with them (breads, pasta, crackers, etc.) can be incorporated into a gluten-free diet. However, grains and starches contain gluten and must be avoided by individuals with certain health conditions. Use the following table to help guide your eating and shopping choices while following a gluten-free food plan.

list of gluten free foods and list of gluten containing foods
Gluten Free foods and gluten containing foods

Gluten-Free Substitutes

While gluten-free alternatives can be convenient and make transitioning to a gluten-free diet easier, it's essential to be mindful of their ingredients. Many gluten-free processed foods contain additives and fillers to mimic the texture of gluten-containing products. These additives may not always contribute to the overall healthiness of the diet.

Focusing on whole, naturally gluten-free foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and grains ensures you're getting the essential nutrients your body needs without relying heavily on processed substitutes. Incorporating these foods into your meals not only supports your overall health but also encourages a more varied and nutritious diet. Plus, experimenting with fresh ingredients can add excitement and flavor to your meals!

The following foods may or may not be hidden sources of gluten. Read labels carefully when shopping, and ask restaurant staff to confirm that foods have not been dusted with flour or cross-contaminated in deep fryers.

wheat field
wheat plant

  • Brown rice syrup (made with barley enzymes)

  • Candy, candy bars

  • Cheesecake filling

  • Eggs prepared in restaurants (sometimes include pancake batter)

  • Energy bars

  • French fries

  • Granola bars

  • Marinades

  • Meat substitutes (vegetarian meat, imitation bacon, imitation seafood, etc.)

  • Multi-grain or “artisan” tortillas and tortilla chips

  • Pizza, gluten-free (restaurants offering gluten-free crusts do not always keep gluten-free items separate from the rest of the kitchen)

  • Potato chips

  • Pre-seasoned meats

  • Processed lunch meats

  • Salad dressings

  • Self-basting poultry

  • Soup

  • Soy sauce

  • Starch or dextrin (in meat or poultry products)

  • Tater tots

Tips for Buying and Storing Gluten-Free Foods

  1. Read labels. Remember that “wheat-free” is not the same thing as “gluten-free”. When in doubt, only purchase products with the certified gluten-free label.

  2. Read ingredient lists for any processed or packaged foods you buy, especially any foods that are cream-based. Wheat is often used in these products as a thickener.

  3. Many personal care products and nutritional supplements contain gluten. Be sure to choose brands that are gluten-free.

  4. Many gluten-free breads and pastas are stored in the refrigerated or frozen sections in the grocery store.

  5. If you can’t find gluten-free grains or products in your regular grocery store, try looking in a specialty or health food store.

  6. Do not purchase gluten-free grains from the bulk section of the grocery store unless they are kept in a separate area from gluten-containing grains. The possibility for cross-contamination with gluten is much higher when gluten-containing and gluten-free grains are sold side by side.

  7. If not everyone in your household follows a gluten-free diet, store all gluten-free products in a separate cabinet or a separate shelf. Keep gluten-free foods on the top shelves away from gluten-containing foods on the lower shelves. Use separate toasters and pans, if necessary. This will help you avoid cross contamination.

  8. When purchasing beers, choose gluten-free brands that are made from gluten-free grains. Some gluten-free beers are made from gluten-containing grains that have been mechanically separated, and these beers may include up to 10 parts per million (10 ppm) of gluten per bottle. If gluten-free beer is not available, opt for cider, wine, or distilled spirits.

IFM The Institute of Functional Medicine

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