These days, taking on a gluten-free diet is easier than ever. Every supermarket labels gluten-free items, restaurants have gluten-free dishes and menus, and the range of gluten-free foods to choose from is ever-growing. To aid you to go beyond the gluten-free learning curve, here is a run-through of five common mistakes people make when first adopting a gluten-free diet.
Not Doing Your Research
It is easy to remove bread and wheat-related cookies and cereal from your diet. However, there’s a lot more involved when adopting a rigid gluten-free diet than just cutting off these three foods. For instance, several canned soups contain gluten. There are a few gluten-free soup alternatives, but you need to know where to look.
Not Understanding Food Labels
Many individuals begin their gluten-free diet by just browsing through the labels of their best foods for gluten or wheat, and then omit the foods that fail this test. However, that’s not a standard enough strategy to cut off gluten completely from your diet. Manufacturers are not legally entitled to list every gluten-containing ingredient on the label, so you have to take extra measures to stay gluten-free (1). Your safest bet is to only eat products that are branded gluten-free.
Eating Too Many Gluten-Free Snacks
As you embark on your gluten-free diet, it is tempting for you to replace your previous favorite junk foods with brand new favorites that are still classified as junk foods, but only happen to be without gluten. However, if you are going without gluten because you are non-celiac gluten sensitive or have celiac disease (2), then your general health should be your primary concern. This will be a great time to go on a healthy diet and take in as many useful nutrients as possible.
Clinging to Convenience Foods
Going gluten-free means cooking a lot more. If you relied on convenience foods in the past, then this habit needs to be curbed. There are gluten-free options, but they are quite expensive and scarce. Cooking with nutritious and fresh ingredients is a much better alternative.
Neglecting Key Nutrients
You don’t have to eliminate every grain when you are on a gluten-free diet. Grains like rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and others are fair game (3). However, your whole grains are still limited. Therefore, you are constantly missing out on good sources of vitamin A, vitamin E, and fiber. Trace minerals and nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper are also present in grains. To make sure that you aren’t neglecting these vital nutrients, you should incorporate different vegetables and fruits into your daily gluten-free meals.
Not Being Insistent in Restaurants
Many restaurants now have gluten-free menus that everyone can work with. However, it is still advisable that you never let your guard down. You could order a gluten-free meal, but then destroy everything you have worked for by drinking a beer or a gluten-containing cake for dessert. This could have adverse effects, so you have to stress to your waiter that your meal must be completely gluten-free or you will get sick. This also applies to meals prepared by family and friends.
The first move to make before going on a gluten-free diet is doing extensive research that goes beyond just what you see on the labels. You’ll need to know a lot of gluten-free recipes, and Nook and Nourish can help with that.
(1) 3 Tips for Gluten-Free Label Reading
(2) Cleveland Clinic Celiac Disease
by Amy Vergin
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