Some people might pick a gluten-free diet as a way to stay healthy or to lose weight. But, for those people who have gluten intolerance, a gluten-free diet is the only way to keep their bodies’ allergic reactions in control. If you are one of them, you need a complete overhaul diet eliminating gluten from your diet to keep yourself fit and fine.
You might be upset about cutting many of your favorite food items from the diet, but still, you can get to taste something new that you have not tasted yet. You can prepare your favorite foods at home too by making them gluten-free, especially for yourself. To discover more about your body’s condition and to become acquainted with your new, fresh, and unique diet, read the entire article.
Table of Contents
What is Gluten and Gluten-Free Food?
Gluten is a specific kind of protein found in barley, wheat, rye, and oats. People generally use it as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer in processed foods. When you start a gluten-free diet, you have to cut some processed and unhealthy foods from your diet, such as bread, pizzas, pasta, cookies, pies, cakes, muffins, etc. You will need to eat foods that have minimal to no gluten to maintain an ideal gluten-free diet plan.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
When you are not sure if you have gluten intolerance, make sure you go through the symptoms. Going for a diagnosis will be the best thing to do. Gluten intolerance symptoms might vary from mild to severe. Some of the major symptoms include:
- Bloating and gas
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Stomach upset
- Foul-smelling stools
- Slow growth rate (children)
Some symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, might be caused by digestive problems rather than gluten intolerance. So make sure you get all the conditions diagnosed properly.
Causes of Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance can often be seen as a result of heredity. Some diseases can also cause gluten intolerance.
It causes gluten intolerance more among children than adults. It is one kind of food allergy, as the name suggests. It causes the body’s immune system to react to some specific proteins found in wheat, including gluten and other compounds. The estimation says around 65% of children outgrow wheat allergies before they become 12.
It is one of the most severe forms of gluten intolerance. It is mainly an autoimmune disease. It might lead to damage to your digestive system. The symptoms that indicate celiac disease include skin problems, mood changes, gastrointestinal issues, and more.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
0.5–13% of people might have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, while celiac disease is the more serious form of gluten intolerance. Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity tends to be a milder form of gluten intolerance. It can still cause symptoms like bloating, diarrhea and constipation, stomach pain, headaches, fatigue, depression and anxiety, inflammation, etc.
Foods to Avoid and Eat When You Have Gluten Intolerance
To maintain your perfect gluten-free diet plan, first, you need to know the types of foods you need to eat and avoid. Select and memorize the food items that are forbidden for you. Then make a diet chart that will include the ideal foods for your fresh start.
Foods to avoid
The food items that you need to avoid in your gluten-free diet are given below:
1. Gluten-containing grains
You need to know the grains that contain gluten to remove them from your diet. Wheat, rye, barley, farina, Kamut, spelt, couscous, wheat berries, and farro are some of the grains that have gluten as a protein component. Oats are naturally gluten-free but might be contaminated with gluten while processing. So, while selecting the food items, make sure you do not include them in your chart.
2. Bread, Wraps, and Crackers
Most bread, wraps, and crackers contain gluten. Read the ingredient list to make sure they do not carry any type of grain in it. When you have a gluten intolerance, try to avoid the food items such as white bread, potato bread, rye bread, wheat crackers, flour tortillas, bagels, whole wheat bread, sourdough bread, whole wheat wraps, flatbread, etc. to be on the safe side. Check out a gluten free bread crumbs recipe to know how to add your favorite bread to your gluten-free diet.
3. Certain Condiments
While many condiments do not seem to be a source of gluten, some popular ones harbor gluten. These include barbecue sauce, soy sauce, marinades, salad dressings, cream sauces, ketchup, gravy mixes, spice blends, and malt vinegar. To get an alternative, you might like to make your condiments at home using gluten-free ingredients. Or, you can find and purchase certified gluten-free condiments to make your diet tastier.
4. Baked Goods
As we all know, baked goods are usually made with wheat flour or using other gluten-containing grains. As such, you need to largely avoid foods like cakes, pastries, cookies, soft and hard pretzels, muffins, doughnuts, pancakes, waffles, etc., to maintain your ideal diet plan.
5. Wheat-Based Pasta
Pasta might be a staple food in many countries. Most of the traditional pasta is prepared with gluten-containing grains that include food items like noodles, gnocchi made with wheat flour, spaghetti, dumplings, and many more. To have a proper gluten-free diet, you must avoid these foods. You can still have them in your diet if you desire while making sure they are gluten-free ones.
6. Some Snack Foods
Snack foods are generally known as a common source of gluten. You might find some gluten-free snacks, though. When you have gluten intolerance, make sure to remove certain snack foods from your diet that have gluten in them. For instance, pretzels, cereal bars, granola bars, chips, cookies, energy bars, candy bars, snack mixes are some gluten-containing snacks that you must avoid.
7. Certain Beverages
Read the labels of the beverages when buying, as some of them might be made with gluten-containing ingredients. Beverages that generally contain gluten include pre-made coffee drinks, bottled wine coolers, commercial chocolate milk, beer, liquor mixes, etc. So, make sure you are checking the labels thoroughly and buy something that suits your diet plan.
8. Several Processed Foods
Some processed foods and other popular food items might also harbor gluten, such as processed cheeses, breakfast cereals, canned soups, and soup mixes, prepared lunch meats, pudding, and instant dessert mixes, egg substitutes, meat substitutes, flavored tofu, certain ice creams, french fries, and other fried dishes. When making a gluten-free diet plan, make sure you are cutting these processed foods from your chart to have an ideal meal plan.
Foods to Eat
When you are done listing what not to eat, now is the time to find out what you can eat and add to your special diet chart. The foods that are allowed to eat for you include:
1. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the best companions when someone needs to maintain a gluten-free diet as they are naturally gluten-free. However, when buying them, be sure to avoid certain products like candy-coated fruit or battered vegetables. They may contain gluten.
The fruits and vegetables that might be a good choice to add to your diet chart are- apples, bananas, avocados, berries, citrus fruits, peaches, plums, spinach, onions, kale, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, butternut squash, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts.
If you want to taste gluten-free pasta, eat the one that is made with chickpeas, beans and lentils as they are gluten-free. Pasta made with legumes and lentils is an excellent wheat/gluten-free pasta substitute. The most common beans and legumes are red lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans, adzuki beans, and peas. Add these to your diet to bring variety.
3. Gluten-Free Grains
Though several grains are off-limits for you as they contain gluten, you can still have some grains in your diet that are gluten-free. They include quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, millet, oats, amaranth, corn, brown rice, wild rice, teff, etc. You can also intake gluten-free crackers, bread, and other baked goods that are made from these grains. Make sure to buy the products that are certified gluten-free to reduce any risk of cross-contamination.
4. Animal proteins
The most satisfying fact in maintaining a gluten-free diet is you do not need to cut off animal proteins from your diet as you need to in other special diets. As they are naturally gluten-free, you can add them to your diet as you want. Enjoy having a great mealtime having meat, fish, poultry, eggs, shellfish, and dairy products like cheese and yogurt.
5. Nuts and Seeds
As nuts and seeds are gluten-free, you can have them now and then. They are a nutrient-rich source of fat. You can also find them made into gluten-free flour. Some good choices of seeds, nuts, and their butter include cashews, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, Brazil nuts, etc.
6. Certain Condiments and Seasonings
If you are following a gluten-free diet, there are some condiments and seasonings that are safe for you to intake. They are apple cider vinegar, mustard, fresh herbs like rosemary, basil, and cilantro, most salsas, pesto, coconut aminos, most dried herbs and spices, hummus, sauerkraut, guacamole, and tahini. You can use them in your recipes and make your meal more enjoyable.
7. Healthy Fats and Oils
You will find most sources of healthy fat are gluten-free such as cheese, full-fat yogurt, avocado oil, olive oil, avocados, seeds, nuts, nut butter, unsweetened coconut, etc. Eating them in your diet will not harm you. So, you can use them in your dishes as much as you want.
Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes
Though you have gluten intolerance and need to remove several tasty food items and snacks from your diet plan, you can still enjoy many other mouth-watering dishes. Some of them are given here to make your mealtime flavourful.
Chickpea Coconut Dhal
The ingredients you will need to make this tasty dish are cooking oil, finely chopped garlic cloves, coriander leaves, and spring onions, peeled and finely chopped small pieces of ginger, chopped cherry tomatoes, coconut milk, drained and rinsed canned chickpeas, and cooked lentils, curry powder, ground turmeric, ground cumin, lime juice, spinach, and wholemeal pitas.
Heat oil in a large non-stick pan or pot at high heat. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the spring onions, coriander leaves and stalks, cherry tomatoes, and salt.
After cooking for 3 more minutes, add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and lentils. Stir well and add the curry powder, black pepper, cumin, turmeric, and lime juice. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Add the spinach. After wilting for a few minutes, check for seasoning. Now serve with pitas to enjoy your mouth-watering dish.
Meatball and Butter Bean Stew
To make this flavourful dish, you will need lean beef mince, olive oil, chopped red onion, sliced peppers, crushed garlic cloves, sweet smoked paprika, chopped canned tomatoes, drained butter beans, golden caster sugar, chopped parsley, and crusty bread.
Season the beef using your hands. Shape them into small meatballs. Take a large pan and heat the oil. Add the meatballs to the heated oil and cook for 5 minutes. When they are golden brown, push them to one side of your pan. Now add the peppers and onions. Stir occasionally until the veg has softened.
After cooking for a further 5 mins, add the paprika and garlic. Stir for 1 min and add the tomatoes. Cover the pan with a lid. After simmering for 10 mins, uncover and stir in the beans with sugar and some seasoning. Again simmer for a further 10 mins keeping the pan uncovered. Stir in the parsley before serving. Eat with crusty bread to dunk and enjoy.
Red Lentil Pasta
To make this dish, you will need red lentil fusilli, a handful of rocket and unsalted, unroasted cashews, roughly chopped garlic clove, seed removed roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, and roughly chopped basil for the sauce. To prepare the item, first, start making the sauce. Put the garlic and cashews in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Set it aside for 5 mins.
Meanwhile, take a large pan of water and put it over high heat. Add in the pasta when the water is boiling. Add a little salt and stir once. Then continue to boil it as per the pack instructions or for 8 mins, until the pasta has softened yet still retains some bite. In the meantime, add the sun-dried tomatoes and roasted pepper to the bowl with the garlic, cashews, and water.
Now whizz them in a food processor or use a hand blender to make a smooth and creamy sauce. Add the basil and season it with black pepper. Drain the pasta, take a large bowl and mix it with the sauce. Add a handful of rockets or arugula to your bowl and enjoy this delicious meal.
Related: 48 Types Of Pasta and Their Uses
Salmon with New potato and Corn Salad
The ingredients you will need to make this dish are baby new potatoes, sweetcorn cobs, salmon fillets, and large tomatoes (like beefsteak). For the dressing, you will need red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, finely chopped shallot, capers, and a handful of basil leaves.
First, cook potatoes in boiling water. When they are tender, add corn for the final 5 mins. Drain and allow it to cool a little. To prepare the dressing, mix the oil, shallot, vinegar, basil, capers, and some seasoning.
Heat the grill high. Take the dressing and rub a little on the salmon. Then cook it for 7-8 minutes, keeping the skinned-side down. Now, take a serving plate, sliced tomatoes, and place them on it. Slice the potatoes as well. Cut the corn, arrange them over the tomatoes, and top with the salmon. For the finishing, drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve to enjoy.
Basic Tips to Remember
When you have gluten intolerance, make sure you always remember the basic tips below to remain on the safe side:
- Make reading food labels a habit when you shop.
- Always find and use gluten-free substitutes instead of gluten-containing foods for your favorite dish.
- Remember the naturally gluten-free foods.
- Enjoy the grains and cereals that are naturally gluten-free.
- Know the gluten-containing alcohols to avoid.
- Always make sure to keep away from cross-contamination.
Abiding these tips will help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle though you have to cut off from your many favorite foods. When you have gluten intolerance, you need to maintain a proper gluten-free diet to have a worry-free life.
You can lead a normal life just by being cautious. Eat alternatives of different foods and bring variety to your menu. Make sure to keep the above dietary guidelines in mind and have a healthy and hearty life.
All the best!