If you are new to the gluten-free diet you are probably feeling overwhelmed right now. Well, I would like to help if I can. This page contains basic information about Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity, as well as links to articles and other sources to help you start the diet.
Understanding Gluten Intolerance
To help you understand why this diet is necessary for those intolerant to gluten, follow these links:
Another common reason for being on the gluten-free diet is Autism. In addition to removing gluten from the diet, dairy (casein) is also removed. This is commonly called the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet (or GFCF Diet.) Here is an article to explain:
Reading Food Labels
To avoid eating gluten, you will find yourself reading the labels of everything you eat from now on. At first it will seem impossible to keep track of what to look for. I assure you, it does get easier with time, so be patient. For years I kept a list (printed from a website) in my purse and would frequently pull it out while shopping.
The list is long, but here are the basic key words you will be looking to avoid in food:
Wheat (all types including Bulgur, Durum, Farina, Semolina, Tritical), Wheat flour, Barley, Malt, Malt syrup, Malt flavoring, Rye, Oats, Oat flour, Spelt.
(Maltodextrin, however, is found in many foods and is okay, it is made from corn.)
Due to new regulations most foods will be labeled clearly to contain WHEAT at the end of the ingredient list if the item has wheat of any kind. It will NOT be clearly labeled for Barley, Malts, Spelt or Oats. For those you will have to notice them in the ingredient list.
This site has a wonderful article to help you get started reading labels:
As you get more experienced, you will start investigating new foods you have probably never eaten before. These articles have links with complete and lengthy lists that you can refer to when you want to check on a particular food:
I have also found that it is important to communicate this dietary change to others, such as school teachers. Here is a letter I have written explaining these dietary needs. It also includes a concise list of gluten containing foods to watch out for. You can use this letter, or write one of your own to help others who may deal with your loved ones on the gluten free diet. Be sure to put your child’s name on the top and include your contact information at the bottom.
Gluten Free Notice for School Teacher
Now that you know all the foods you CAN’T eat, lets give some suggestions of what you CAN eat!
To start with, I highly recommend you buy a good gluten-free cookbook with foods you think your family will actually eat… let’s say, a book like Irresistibly Gluten Free: Simple Family Favorite Recipes!
The main difference you will see in preparing meals now is that you will be cooking and baking many of the foods you may have purchased ready-made before. Instead of baking with wheat flour, you will be using a gluten-free flour mix. In Irresistibly Gluten Free I teach you to make an all-purpose flour called UNflour, then you are ready to follow the recipes and start baking bread, pancakes, pizza crust and more.
Most grocery stores carry the ingredients you will need, and many grocery stores now have a gluten free section with ready-made foods to choose from.
I have made some meal plans with 7 breakfast ideas, 7 lunch ideas, and 7 dinner ideas to help you get started. These meal plans include a grocery list to help with that fist (and often traumatic) shopping experience:
There are more and more companies taking their foods gluten free. You will see grocery stores with gluten free labels to help you locate gluten free foods easily. Also, many restaurants will offer a gluten free menu to order from.
Many people have found that this diet, although hard to get started, gets easier as time goes on. This is largely due to the fact that so many feel so much better, the effort becomes worth the work. I hope this helps you as you begin, and I hope you feel great once you’ve succeeded!