Quick Guide to Being Gluten Free

So this is a little known fact about myself, but I was gluten free for about three months starting around last November!  Most people who are gluten free have some kind of medical reasoning, like an allergy (or in my case, eczema), however, it has also been said that being gluten free can help clear your complexion or improve your energy.  Regardless of your reasoning, Thanksgiving can be an interesting time to be on any sort of diet when faced with your family and a whole lot of foods that you may or may not be able to eat!  So here are the basics of a gluten free diet.

The four main things you really need to worry about with gluten are wheat, barley, rye, and triticale, but these are pretty sneaky things that make their way into lots of different foods. Obviously, avoiding bread and pasta is a big part of it, but did you know soy sauce has gluten in it?  Fried foods and salad dressings can even be sneaky perpetrators as well.  Your “safe” foods include beans, nuts, eggs, dairy, fruits, and veggies as well as anything that is labeled gluten free.

Don’t let this limit your life! This diet is actually quite inclusive.  Pretty much everything has a gluten free option these days and reading the labels can actually surprise you (Honey Nut Cheerios are actually gluten free! What!).  Quick heads up though: gluten free bread is extremely hit and miss.  Sometimes you can order a gluten free hamburger and the bun will essentially taste the same as “real” bread, but other times it’ll crumble away like sand through your fingers.  Also, protip—tortilla chips are literally life saving.  If you look around, you can also find other gluten free snacks as well!

Cross contamination is the final big facet of gluten freedom, especially if you suffer from a gluten allergy or intolerance.  Oats are often a source of cross contamination, so be sure to look for a label on oat products.  It’s best to let the waiter know if you’re eating out.  Often, when I ordered something that was labeled as gluten free, the waiter would ask if I needed the chefs to use separate utensils in preparing my meal in order to prevent cross contamination.  Because I’m not actually allergic to gluten, this wasn’t really an issue, but it could be an important thing to remember if you are out and living a gluten free life!

Your diet doesn’t define you, of course, but hopefully this guide provides a little insight into how to enjoy food while avoiding gluten!