Going gluten free isn’t a choice for many people who have to give up gluten because of ill health. The main reason would be if you or a member of your immediate family was newly diagnosed with coeliac disease. It can be incredibly daunting, especially when you have had gluten as your main staple for most of your life. Remembering these times myself and also from the knowledge that I’ve gained though experience over the years, in honour of coeliac awareness week I’ve compiled my top 12 tips on going gluten free.
1 – Clear out your cupboards! If you are really serious abut going gluten free, check the labels and chuck out anything that contains gluten. Pass onto a neighbour or pass any unopened long-life goods to a food bank.
2 – Join Coeliac UK. You don’t have to have coeliac disease to do this, it’s a great charity that does loads of research & campaigning. Download their gluten free checker app and use their electronic food and drink database on their website (you have to be a member to use these). Do a bit of research about what is gf and what is not. e.g. soya sauce contains wheat, but Tamari doesn’t.
3 – Eat fresh food. Use lots of vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, poultry, rice, eggs and dairy (check if you are lactose intolerant – many people who are just diagnosed are lactose intolerant until their gut heals up) – all are which are natural gluten free before you start substituting gluten products from the free from aisle.
4 – Read ingredient labels. Getting used to reading ingredients labels can be a chore at first, but it does get easier and is essential . Wheat, barley, oats and rye along with other allergens are labelled in bold. But also check for ‘May contain gluten’ . If in doubt, check online or using the Coeliac UK app,
5 – Beware of cross contamination. If you don’t live in a fully gluten free home, or are visiting friends and family, then you need to think about cross contamination. Make sure that you have a separate butter, condiments, toaster (or use toaster bags), and separate utensils – particularly wooden spoons and chopping boards for stirring and prepping.
6 – Plan your menu. A weekly menu will help you keep costs down, source food a bit more easily and help you not get so stressed about the big changeover. Going gluten free can be expensive, so thinking about using as much produce mentioned in point 3 as you can.
7 – Shop around. Sourcing food can be tricky, and while most bigger supermarkets have a ‘free from’ section, some are better than others. Some have a huge aisle, and others could be a token middle shelf tucked away. Online shopping is great, and we often buy our gf supplies & flours from a couple of discount online shops in bulk. e.g. Goodness Direct, Amazon and Infinity Food. We’ve also got a good relationship with a local shop and they will order things in for us.
8 – Experiment! Search online for blogs for recipe ideas, get creative and experiment. But be prepared to take time with this, you can’t change an entire way of cooking and eating overnight, so don’t be disheartened if your first cake doesn’t quite work out the way you hoped.
10 – Get your vitamins. If you have just been diagnosed with coeliac disease, it is highly likely that your body is deficient in many key vitamins and minerals. Get tested, or your recent blood test may have some information. Think about and respond to what your body needs. Fresh fruit or vegetables, more red meat to help you through an iron deficiency, a weekly portion of tinned boney sardines for calcium. Sugary salty substitutions aren’t going to help you feel 100%.
11 – Still go out! Check out where you can eat locally. More and more places and bigger chains are opening up to gluten free. Many of which are now accredited by Coeliac UK. See Eggainst The Grain’s new eating out guide for more tips.
I am currently posting an advice series about Gluten free living. Please see my first post with lots of eating out tips and links. Subscribe to hear more and also to be the first to hear about upcoming posts which will include visiting friends and family, traveling and sourcing food.