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Gluten-Free Living

Living Gluten-Free

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Not long ago, the gluten-free lifestyle was reserved for people with celiac disease — a genetic autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten causes severe intestinal damage — who were forced to give up their favorite dishes and settle for strange, unappetizing foods. There are numerous reasons a person might choose to eat gluten-free, but for those with celiac disease, it is medically required as a strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment.

Not just a trend

Today, gluten-free is all the rage — there are hundreds of blogs, recipe pages, and websites dedicated to helping people live happily without wheat, rye, and barley, which contain proteins known as “gluten.” The gluten-free scene has changed dramatically from a barren desert to a bountiful oasis in just a few years.

“There is a wide variety of foods that are naturally gluten-free, as well as plenty of delicious substitutes for nearly all traditional breads, pastas, baked goods, and most foods you may have previously enjoyed.”

Even so, transitioning to eating this way may seem overwhelming and challenging at first, but the switch can actually be just as satisfying as your current way of eating. When you “go gluten-free,” it is important to focus on what you CAN eat rather than what is now off limits. You will realize that there is a wide variety of foods that are naturally gluten-free, as well as plenty of delicious substitutes for nearly all traditional breads, pastas, baked goods, and most foods you may have previously enjoyed.

Transparency is king

Thanks to the FDA’s new gluten-free labeling rule, determining if a product is gluten-free is no longer intimidating. For breakfast, you can find cereals labeled gluten-free in most grocery stores; gluten-free waffles and pancakes are also widely available, or you can make your own using a gluten- free baking mix. Additionally, there are plenty of breakfast options that are naturally gluten-free, like eggs, breakfast meats, fruit and yogurt. Gluten-free bread, bagels, or tortillas can be used to make sandwiches for lunch, or you can continue to eat your salad, but without the croutons or other wheat-based toppings. You will not be deprived of tasty snacks either, as there are gluten-free pretzels, popcorn, and crackers to satisfy your cravings. Naturally gluten-free and cost-effective lunch and dinner options might include veggies, meats, chicken, fish, tofu, beans, rice, potatoes, and corn.

Regular follow up with your physician is important to identify nutritional deficiencies and address symptoms you may still be experiencing. Seeing a dietitian to ensure you are eating a healthy and nutritiously balanced diet is also recommended, as gluten-free substitutes might be lower in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. With some adaptation, you’ll see that eating gluten-free can be simple, delicious, and diverse.