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11 tips for the newly gluten free – it can be quite a daunting experience when you’re newly diagnosed as gluten free or possibly as suffering with Coeliac disease.
Or if you’re like me, you might not have been diagnosed but had a medical professional suggest trialling cutting gluten out of my diet (and my 8-year-old sons).
Having recently been told that gluten could possibly be the cause of all of my illnesses and my sons and that we should at least do a trial and remove gluten from our diet to see if we improve.
I can be honest and tell you at first it felt very overwhelming, especially when you start to realise just how much stuff has gluten in it. So for a good few days, things seemed impossible and quite stressful.
Until I decided to take control of the situation and start planning our food intake. Things get so much easier when you plan ahead. Let me just say though, those of us being diagnosed in this day and age, no matter how overwhelming and stressful we might feel, we do honestly have it so much easier than people being diagnosed 10 or 20 years back! We have choices and convenience, I like to take the positives where I can!
So below I’ve shared a few snippets of information I’d wish I’d had in the first few days of being told to remove gluten from our diet! I’m not going into masses of detail here because I intend on sharing many more posts about our journey and when you are first diagnosed everything is overwhelming enough.
Naturally gluten free foods and therefore perfectly ok to consume are meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, rice, potatoes and lentils.
Going gluten free means cutting out wheat, barley, rye and semolina from your diet, cutting it out completely and all its derivatives (more about them below!).
When looking at ingredients on packaging look out for things in bold, anything in bold indicates it could be an allergen or intolerant.
So many things contain wheat flour, so this is (from my experience so far anyway) the thing you seem to see the most, especially in processed foods.
Other words to look out for when checking if the item is gluten free are, modified wheat starch, wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat rusk, wheat germ, wheat flour, durum, couscous, spelt, bulgur. If you see any of these, it is not safe to eat as it will contain gluten. Some of these are derivatives.
Triticale is a mixture of wheat and rye.
Oats are a little confusing, mainly because when Oats are harvested they can be contaminated with gluten containing wheat and barley. I would prefer you to get all the correct information so I divert you to the very informative site Coeliac UK.
Depending on how organised you are when it comes to meals, I wasn’t very organised at all. You might find it easier to buy in fresh ingredients and batch cook over a full day and freeze your homemade gluten free meals.
Another thing that is very important but can be overlooked. If you share a house with someone who isn’t gluten free and you share a kitchen area, do keep cross contamination at the forefront of your mind.
Things such as your toaster can be contaminated with bread that contains gluten, then when we put our gluten free bread in it gets contaminated.
Also, consider chopping boards or kitchen work tops, there can be bread crumbs left behind from bread containing gluten and contaminate our gluten free bread.
Lastly, if you share spreads, butter or jams always try and purchase the squeezy bottles where possible. I know they don’t sell butter or margarine in a squeezy, so just keep in mind, what was stuck in the butter or margarine before you came to use it for your gluten free food? In this situation it is best having separate items of butter or whatever can become contaminated.
I know its a lot to take in, but honestly, it does get easier and easier as each day passes. Yes, you might make a mistake or consume some gluten in the first few weeks even months, but try not to beat yourself up about it, we all make errors, just learn from it and keep going, it does get easier!
If you are anything like me and need a little time to adjust and organise yourself, many of the large supermarkets and some smaller convenience chains now stock some fantastic gluten free alternatives. For example, my son loves chicken nuggets, I know, what can I say, I’ve made them from scratch for him but he prefers the shop bought ones and thank god for Morrison’s because they do a gluten free version!
So if you need a transition period, while getting to grips with being gluten free. Or some nights you just want to bung in something quick and easy as a treat then I wholeheartedly recommend Morrison’s for their fabulous “Free From” range. This isn’t an ad, they just do a really good Free From range!
I’ve not tried Sainsbury’s or Tesco yet but I do intend on visiting them all at some point. Asda has a good range but not as extensive as Morrison’s. Here are just a few things I spotted, (I intend on writing a review post in the future for each supermarket, or food type). In Morrisons I found chicken nuggets, beef lasagna, mini hash browns, oven chips, pizzas, ice cream, processed hams and chicken, (all the convenience foods, yes they might not be the healthiest, but I’m including them because many of us sometimes just want to bund something in quick, especially in the transition period.
Obviously, Morrison’s and the other supermarkets also sell fresh produce. All of which is naturally gluten free, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables as I mentioned above are perfect choices. My long term plan is to hit up Pinterest, the library and keep a lookout for cheap gluten free cookbooks. Gather some recipes and experiment with gluten free ingredients.
I didn’t want to overload you with masses of information in this first post, but there is so much to learn, I feel like I should stop there and let you absorb what’s in this post.
A couple of extra things I do want to let you know about is the website Coeliac UK is a fantastic site that explains everything you need to know about and I found it invaluable when I first started.
Coeliac UK has a members area that you can sign up to for £2 per month. The membership gives you access to a smartphone app which enables you to scan any food label and it will tell you if it is gluten free. There are many other member bonuses but I think the app on its own is worth the fee.
I did try a free gluten free app but I have to be honest I’m, not 100% relaxed about using it because many of the items I scanned were not found. You can’t expect much from a free app though so I would recommend the Coeliac UK app, its the one I’m now using.
If you don’t want to sign up to membership just yet, but are out and about shopping and want to check if something is gluten free you could always access the internet on your mobile and ask it “is this gluten free” most of the things I’ve checked on the internet have come back with reliable information.
One last thing before I let you go, there is also the Crossed Grain Symbol. This symbol is located somewhere on the packaging of the item and it lets us know that the item is gluten free and suitable for us.
Right well, that’s it for now I think! Wow that was longer than I first thought it would be!
So, are you newly
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