Eating healthy is critical for many people. Celiac disease is a growing concern in modern times, and poor eating habits are potentially life-threatening to some individuals. Gluten-free diets are renowned as an excellent way to stay fit and live a healthy lifestyle. However, it’s important to know that there are correct ways to eat gluten free and wrong ways. Coming from experts in gluten free nutrition, here are the three most important things you should know about eating healthy and staying gluten free.
Always Read the Labels
Because of the growing number of gluten-free diet fads, food labels may not always mean what they say. Celiacs suffer from a myriad of reactions to gluten, some mild and mostly uncomfortable, and some temporarily debilitating. However, most gluten sensitivities and allergies have been debunked by scientific studies and the practice of making food “mostly” wheat-free.
It’s important to note that it is not just gluten you should be careful to avoid. Celiacs can also be sensitive to wheat and individual plants. For example, some people can’t consume any grain, including cereal or even rolled oats. Some individuals can even have worse reactions from refined products rather than whole foods.
That being said, even when products are gluten free, a lot of the comforting flavors being reproduced are done with the use of fat, sugar, and salt. Just like with other diet foods, the missing elements aren’t necessarily being replaced by healthy ones. Gluten-free Oreos, for example, contain almost double the trans fats and sodium of regular Oreos. They certainly aren’t the healthier choice. Remember, just because a product has no flour in it doesn’t mean that the product is healthy.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Foods
If you can’t consume gluten, your food can start tasting a little bland. It can be frustrating, but there are many cuisines that are naturally gluten free, delicious and healthy.
Many Asian cuisines use rice and potatoes as a starch, and can be very appetizing substitutes to classic gluten-rich dishes. Sushi is delicious and can be completely gluten free if you use the right soy sauce and avoid tempura. Quinoa is also an excellent starch to use in place of rice if you find it bland, and it works well in soups, salads, and as a thickener.
Instead of looking to replace the grain and flour in dishes that you’re used to, start looking for tasty substitutes that don’t need it at all. Gluten-free pasta is great and all, but may not hold a candle to a good Vietnamese meal. When you can’t eat a whole type of food, it’s better to get adventurous rather than sit around trying to recreate it. Just ask vegetarians!
Prepare Your Own Meals – From Scratch
Cooking is an invaluable life skill that everybody should cultivate whether they have dietary restrictions or not. That being said, learning how to cook is critical if you have special diet needs. The thing is, a lot of gluten-free processed foods are overly fattening or laden with salt and sugar. Learning to make things from scratch and practice the basics of gluten free food prepping allows you to control everything that you are putting into your body.
You can learn how to recreate dishes like stews sauces and casseroles that taste great without being as unhealthy as their commercial counterparts. You can make hearty dishes using corn, potato, and tapioca as thickening agents. Since there’s no roux involved, it’s a whole lot healthier without all that butter. You can even make healthy pizza or quiche crusts from cauliflower or zucchini, saving the calories for delicious toppings instead.
You can also create your own flour blends using rice, potato, buckwheat, quinoa, tapioca, xanthan gum, or whatever your local supermarket has. It’s fun to experiment, but it’s also a lot healthier eliminating the stabilizing chemicals prevalent in many foods derived from wheat. After all, part of going gluten free for most people is to detoxify and make healthier choices.
Whether you choose to be gluten free or your health requires you to make changes to your diet, you don’t have to be a slave to commercial fad diet gimmicks. It’s great to have the option, but just as with any diet, it’s always important to be prudent and stay informed.