All you Need to Know About a Gluten-Free Diet

It is the year 2021, a time when our past selves would have expected us to be piloting flying cars and wearing fancy futuristic outfits. But the reality is, not much has changed, except that now we are navigating a pandemic, balancing, our finances, family and fun, while trying to lead a healthy life.

Many persons are trying to exercise more, staying mentally healthy, becoming vegetarian and one of the more recent practices, becoming gluten-free.

But what is gluten-free? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, gluten is a tenacious elastic protein substance especially wheat flour that gives cohesiveness to dough. Some foods that are high in gluten include wheat, bread, pasta, some cereals, breadcrumbs and others.

A gluten-free diet is one that excludes foods containing gluten. And if you are seeking to make changes in your life too and cut out gluten, here is all you need to know about a gluten-free diet.

According to research, gluten is not necessarily bad for you nor is it necessarily good. It is a protein that is present in food in small quantities and so it doesn’t provide a lot of nutrients.

People may want to remove gluten from their diet if they have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder, triggered by gluten. The symptoms of celiac may include, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and gas, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and constipation.

Others may become gluten-free, to control dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), which is a form of celiac disease that triggers the immune system to attack the skin, causing painful, chronic itchy, bumpy rashes. Some people are also sensitive to gluten and have mild digestion issues such as gas and discomfort and so choose to avoid gluten products. Another reason to cut out gluten is to simply lead a healthier life and to lose weight. However, carbohydrates are important to one’s diet, and therefore, when some people cut out gluten, they tend to feel hungry much quicker.

But if you still want to press forward with your gluten-free diet, kudos to you, and here is what you need to do.

  1. Research about gluten and a gluten-free diet, be informed, speak with your doctor.
  2. If you are proceeding, avoid wheat and some other grains but replace them with healthier options. Foods that contain gluten are beer, malt, ale, porter, stout, breads, bulgur wheat, pastries, cereals and sweets.
  3. You will not find gluten listed in the ingredients or on the Nutrition Facts panel. It is up to you to know which ingredients may have gluten and then scour the ingredient list to be sure a product is gluten-free.
  4. Being gluten-free, may mean you will have to prepare most of your meals at home, as restaurants may use gluten products in dishes and you can’t control that, unless it is a gluten-free restaurant.
  5. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications may use wheat gluten as a binding agent; therefore, you must speak with your doctor and pharmacists about drugs that may go against your diet and ask them to suggest alternatives.
  6. It is more costly to live on a gluten-free diet.
  7. By cutting out gluten, you may lose out on several important vitamins and other nutrients, such as, iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate.
  8. Here are recommended foods that you can eat on a gluten-free diet: fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds, legumes and nuts in their natural, unprocessed forms, most low-fat dairy products, eggs, lean non-processed meats, fish and poultry, arrowroot, corn — cornmeal, grits and polenta labeled gluten-free, flax, gluten-free flours — rice, soy, corn, potato and bean flours, quinoa and rice, including wild rice.
  9. Lastly but importantly, you must be dedicated to your diet.

It is always important to lead a healthy life and so if you decide to become gluten-free, I wish you all the best on your journey!