Gluten Free Diet Plan For Beginners

The fundamentals of a gluten free diet plan prohibit the consumption of gluten and its byproducts.

While it is easy to detect wheat products and sideline those, it is not always as easy to do the same with foods that contain gluten as a hidden source.

For this you need to be well informed about other names that gluten can go by as well as the chance of certain foods being exposed to cross contamination during the manufacturing process.

Always read labels carefully and when in doubt, do not hesitate to ask for verification.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is an ever growing topic that has recently raised concerns about effects on the human digestive system.

Gluten is a protein found in certain grains, and these are the very grains most prevalent in the diet such as wheat, rye, and barley.

Due to the increasing consumption of gluten-containing products, people have developed allergic reactions to this protein over time.

The most obvious foods that are gluten sources would have to be breakfast cereals and baked goods.

Gluten Free Diet Plan For Beginners

However there are a number of other hidden sources of foods that can contain gluten in a not so obvious manner.

For instance, gluten can be used as a thickener in different soups and broths, gravies and sauces as well as in a number of other foods.

So is gluten bad for everyone?

Gluten Intolerance

For people who suffer from gluten intolerance, this wheat protein can have many uncomfortable symptoms.

Ranging from mild to severe, symptoms can result in respiratory difficulties, digestive inconsistencies and even anaphylaxis.

Basically, the gluten free-diet eliminates all gluten based foods from dietary options and looks for other alternative instead.

Now while this may seem fairly easy to do, it is not always the case. Breads and pastas are a few of the most obvious sources of gluten and a staple in many people’s diets.

To go without these and finding other alternatives can be a difficult task. Making the switch to a gluten free lifestyle requires a big change. And not only on part of the individual but also other family members.

For instance, care has to be practiced in the kitchen to avoid any cross contamination from happening.

Gluten intolerant patients need to have their own separate utensils and any cooking that takes place for regular eaters in the same kitchen as they have to be carried out with the utmost of care.

The gluten free diet can seem extremely restrictive initially as it means giving up on a lot of your favorite foods. However, it is good to know that now there are many gluten free products readily available in the market.

Grocery stores have separate gluten-free aisles and other specialty stores also sell gluten free products.

Staying with foods that are labeled gluten free often regulates the symptoms. That allows the patients to enjoy their favorite foods without compromising their health.

Celiac Disease (Coeliac Disease)

A severe form of gluten intolerance known as celiac disease is a condition in which the individual is unable to properly digest gluten.

Celiac disease is a chronic inflammation of the small intestine that results as a reaction to the presence of gluten in the digestive tract.

Celiac disease can manifest in a wide range of symptoms, from mild to very severe.

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Most often, the intake of gluten in the body causes chronic damage to the small intestine and impaired absorption of nutrients.

Patients who suffer from the condition are unable to completely digest gluten and this leads to internal damage caused to the small intestine.

As a result of this damage, celiac patients are unable to absorb certain nutrients effectively and suffer from painful abdominal symptoms.

The most common celiac disease symptoms are rather generic in nature and can be easily misdiagnosed for other conditions. These can be general complaints like abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea.

In some instances celiac patients may not exhibit any symptoms at all and the condition is diagnosed only after going for an allergy test.

Certain patients may experience symptoms that are not related to abdominal discomfort. Such symptoms may reflect as muscle cramps, skin rash, anemia, and irritability or depression.

Since celiac disease involves the malabsorption of nutrients, patients may suffer unexplained weight loss, weakness or fatigue, osteoporosis or a stunted growth in case of children.

If exposed to gluten ingestion, celiac patients may sometimes experience life threatening episodes of anaphylaxis. The disease also has a tendency to run in families so hereditary factors may also play a part.

The exact cause that triggers the condition is not confirmed other than the susceptibility of it being hereditary. The disease can develop at any stage in life and is easier to detect in children than adults.

If left untreated the condition may lead to complications of varying degrees like malnutrition, loss of bone density and neurological disorders.

Celiac Disease Treatment

Even though the cause is undetermined, the treatment of celiac disease is an established one. It has been accepted that the condition cannot be cured but the treatment pursued is effective in controlling all the symptoms and preventing any recurrence.

Once diagnosed, the only sure way to treat celiac disease is to follow a lifelong gluten free diet. By removing the trigger from their diet, celiac patients can hope to restore balance in their lifestyle.

Managing and changing dietary options can help celiac patients overcome their painful symptoms. The complete removal of gluten will gradually start the healing process where the damage incurred to the small intestine will begin to recover.

Although internal recovery may take months or even years, the immediate results can be seen by the subsiding of the gastrointestinal symptoms. Patients begin to feel better within days once gluten has been taken off their diet.

The gluten free treatment offers celiac patients a chance of recovery which can be improved by other methods as well.

Because nutritional deficiencies are involved, it is recommended to get help from registered dietitians who work with celiac patients and specialize in gluten free diets. Getting vitamin supplements for correcting dietary needs will help with faster recovery.

After a confirmed diagnosis, celiac patients need to be very careful in ensuring that no accidental gluten ingestion takes place.

It is important to read all labels carefully before purchase. Also, practice safe cooking habits in a kitchen where both gluten free and regular food is being prepared to avoid the potential of cross contamination.

Gluten Free Diet List

For people who wish to follow a gluten free diet, it is very important to be aware of not only the different foods that contain gluten but also those that have gluten as a hidden source.

While many of us may simply think that wheat and other grain based food are the ones to avoid, going gluten free goes much deeper than that.

As it is, gluten has many uses other than simply enhancing flavor in foods. It is also used to improve texture and consistency in some foods, act as a thickener or binder in others and even as a meat substitute.

Because of its multiple uses in the food industry, going gluten free may seem like a daunting task initially.

Foods that are certified gluten free are safe to consume. However, there are others that may carry the label gluten free but may not actually be so. The best practice is to read all label contents carefully and ask for verification when in doubt.

One of the bigger dangers can arise when gluten free foods are subject to cross contamination. This can easily happen in a facility where both gluten free and non gluten free foods are processed simultaneously.

Moreover, wheat can also go by other names that the customers may not know of. Typically, products that contain bulgur, durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina and spelt should be avoided.

While shopping for gluten free foods the gluten free food list should steer clear of all items (drinks included) that have barley, rye, triticale and wheat.

Foods To Avoid On A Gluten Free Diet

Unless the following foods are made with corn, rice, soy or labeled gluten free, these should be avoided:

  • Baked goods like breads, cakes and pies
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Breaded foods like French fries
  • Croutons, cookies and crackers
  • Gravies, sauces and salad dressings
  • Pastas and processed meats
  • Seasoned snacks and rice mixes
  • Foods with additives such as malt flavoring or modified starch
There is some controversy regarding the use of oats as these can be subject to contamination during the growing and harvesting process.

It is recommended to avoid oats unless specified as gluten free. Certain medications and vitamins also use gluten in the manufacturing process.

Because the gluten free diet restricts a lot of the foods it is important to supplement these properly with other options. In this way, you will avoid any nutritional deficiencies from occurring.

Dieters can look to gluten free diet foods to satisfy their cravings as well as compose a healthy balanced diet for themselves.

Cutting out wheat and its by products can be replaced by other grains and healthy starches like amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, and corn.

To replace wheat flour, other gluten free flours such as rice, soy, corn, potato and bean can be used.

Cereal and grains like flax, millet, quinoa, rice, and sorghum will provide interesting options on the gluten free menu. Soy, tapioca and teff can be used to add variety to gluten free foods.

Gluten Free Diet Plan For Beginners

People decide to follow a gluten free diet for several reasons. For some it may be a necessity such as celiac patients, for others it may be a matter of food intolerance while some others may pursue it to achieve better health or manage their weight.

In any instance gluten free dieting has its benefits to offer and can be followed safely when working with a healthy blend of all the essential nutrients.

There are many foods which are naturally nutrient rich and can be easily incorporated in a gluten free diet.

Gluten Free Menu

To get a head start on your diet here is a simple 7 day diet plan that will provide you with all the essentials and offer the goodness of gluten free eating:

Day 1

Breakfast: Gluten Free cereal like Chex varieties with milk
Snack: 1 cup honeydew melon
Lunch: Seasoned meat with a serving of vegetables and a side of rice
Snack: Baby carrots
Dinner: Green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing – add chickpeas to make it more filling

Day 2

Breakfast: Scrambled Egg with gluten free toast
Snack: 1 medium nectarine
Lunch: Baked chicken breast with mashed potatoes and roasted veggies
Snack: Fruit Yogurt – Check for gluten free label
Dinner: Corn tortilla with prepared coleslaw

Day 3

Breakfast: Gluten free cereal with milk
Snack: 1 cup fresh strawberries
Lunch: Lean hamburger patty in 2 slices of buckwheat bread with cucumber and tomato
Snack: Cottage cheese and an apple
Dinner: Wild rice with mushroom and vegetables

Day 4

Breakfast: Cheese omelet with orange juice
Snack: 1 serving of fruit
Lunch: Grilled shrimp with cooked quinoa and roasted veggies on the side
Snack: Air popped popcorn
Dinner: Turkey sandwich with gluten free bread and tomato salad

Day 5

Breakfast: Gluten free corn cereal
Snack: 1 cup blackberries
Lunch: Mixed Bean salad with tahini dressing
Snack: Roasted tomato and cucumber with 1 slice gluten free bread
Dinner: Grilled chicken with brown rice and steamed veggies

Day 6

Breakfast: Veggie frittata with buckwheat bread
Snack: 1 apricot
Lunch: Grilled fish with asparagus and lemon
Snack: Flax crackers
Dinner: Waldorf salad

Day 7

Breakfast: Sweet potato hash with eggs
Snack: 1 serving of fruit
Lunch: Beef with vegetables and cooked soba noodles
Snack: Hummus with raw veggies
Dinner: Quinoa and bean salad

While this menu is just a guideline for the many options available on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to see that such a meal plan need not be restrictive in any way.

To get more ideas you can look into a good gluten free diet cookbook to discover nutrient rich foods that are both tasty and satisfying.

Benefits of Gluten Free Diet

While for celiac patients a gluten free diet is the only solution to their condition, others have been turning to this diet because of the many health benefits that it has to offer.

Many people who don’t have celiac disease can still display allergies or intolerance to gluten.

For those who have neither an allergy nor an intolerance the gluten free diet is attractive as it has been proven to provide better digestive health, regulates cholesterol levels and even helps with weight loss.

Following a diet based on gluten free benefits would eliminate a host of unhealthy foods from the menu.

Processed foods that actually have a lot of hidden gluten in them, would be off the list. These can include anything from heavily fried foods to foods with additives and chemicals.

Gluten Free Diet Foods

The focus is shifted to healthier food options like lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and natural sources of healthy fats.

Other gluten free diet benefits include limiting the chance of developing diabetes as many of the baked goodies that are made from wheat flour will be off limits for the dieters.

This essentially means no more doughnuts, pastries and other desserts that are created with unhealthy oils and sugars.

By giving up these foods people can improve their overall health.

Gluten-free diets are beneficial for patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. Many of the symptoms associated with IBS are triggered by gluten’s presence in the digestive tract.

Common discomforts like bloating, flatulence and diarrhea can be regulated by removing gluten from the diet.

Gluten Free Diet For Weight Loss

While it’s not gluten itself that leads to weight gain, foods that are allowed on a gluten free diet can assist in regulating weight gain.

Especially if the food groups are combined in a well balanced manner and contain all the essential macronutrients.

For this reason, gluten free diet for weight loss has become the center of great interest among present-day dieters.

Studies have also shown that the presence of gluten can interfere with optimal digestion. Therefore, going gluten free can help with digestive health. This also leads to improved weight loss results.

Whether your motives to start a gluten free diet are based on alleviating problematic symptoms, achieving better health or just getting rid of excess weight, removing gluten from your diet can help you manage all these issues and improve your life quality.

Gluten-Free Diet, Trend or Necessity?

The discussion often comes up whether gluten-free is another food trend/fad diet or a legitimate health concern.

Well the answer is both, since the explosion of the fad diet gluten free diet plans have joined the list.

Some believe it is a legitimate weight loss plan while others need to live gluten free to remain healthy.

About 1 in 133 Americans are said to have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine by damaging the surface and preventing necessary nutrients from absorbing into the body. The cure is simple, avoid foods with gluten.

And many who sacrifice their favorite wheat based foods because of this necessary lifestyle may like or dislike the fact that it has also become a trendy diet.

The gluten free diet has not received 100% support in the realm of doctors and nutritionists as many diets don’t.

However food product and beverage companies are cashing in. There are even fast food restaurants catering to the diet.

This does raise the question though, with the celiac epidemic quadrupling in the past 50 years, is this an ever-increasing trend or are our bodies rejecting gluten based food products over time?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *