Simple steps toward living a gluten-free life
One in 100 people around the globe suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can lead to damage in the small intestine after the ingestion of gluten. That number does not even account for the 18 million people in the United States alone who have gluten sensitivity.
All of these people must adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. It’s not always easy to adjust to a life of gluten-free meals, but there are basic tips to help guide you through the transition.
Keep a gluten-free kitchen
It doesn’t need to be spring to do some cleaning around the house. In this case, you can start with the kitchen, where you’ll need to check your pantry for all gluten-containing foods. Make a note of the food items you are removing so that you can check the grocery store for alternatives.
It is also important that you clean the surfaces of your kitchen cabinets and shelves. You don’t want crumbs from gluten-containing foods making their way into your new groceries.
It is essential to living a gluten-free life that you avoid using common surfaces or utensils that have not been thoroughly cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing foods. This will be easier if your entire household is eating gluten-free, but can be much more challenging if you share your kitchen with others who are not restricted to gluten-free foods.
Designating one set of pans and utensils only for gluten-free meal prep can help avoid cross-contamination. It is also suggested that you buy condiments in squeeze containers, so people aren’t tempted to use the same utensil for spreading multiple condiments.
Read nutrition labels
You will want to make a habit of checking the nutrition labels for all of your food items moving forward. Be sure you familiarize yourself with a list of gluten-containing foods. Foods containing wheat, rye, barley, oats, and triticale are among the items to avoid.
Watch out for hidden sources of gluten, including hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, malt and malt flavoring, and modified wheat starch.
Maintain realistic expectations
Adjusting to the challenge of eating gluten-free does not occur overnight. You may feel like you are giving up all of the foods you love or constantly worry that you are going to eat a gluten-containing food by mistake. It could take up to six months before you start feeling comfortable with your diet, so it is important that you remain patient and positive.
It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed or to make a mistake every now and then. Trust that it will get easier over time as long as you gain more experience.