It’s date night! You are dressed from head to toe and ready to gaze at your gorgeous guy from across the table. Within minutes of being seated, you’re enjoying your first sip of wine or surrendering your cares to a hearty gulp of beer. As you tame your appetite with the typical starters of bread and butter, or chips and salsa, you explore the menu with joy. Then, within minutes after you order, your belly feels off. Like most, you ignore it and enjoy your meal, as you unknowingly build stores of toxic substances throughout your body. Sounds alarming, yet due to an intolerance, or allergy to gluten, you might be packing a substance into your body that it can no longer process. If your body cannot process something, it becomes a toxin, and when a toxin is introduced to the body, the body will have a reaction.
There could be many reasons why your body is unable to process gluten, therefore, when seeking out answers, include your doctor or holistic practitioner. If you find gluten to be the culprit and are faced with having to change your entire diet, I am here to say that it can be done. And it can be done with ease, and most importantly, without giving up your love of food.
What is gluten?
According to The Celiac Disease Foundation: “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat, and einkorn, rye, barley, and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.”
Do I need gluten?
No! Whole grains provide fiber and some nutrients, but the truth is, none of those are reliant on gluten. Therefore, gluten isn’t a NEED in your diet. As you can see in the description of gluten above, that gluten is merely a glue protein, so unless you like to eat paste, you don’t need gluten. I joke yes, but you don’t need gluten in your diet to be healthy!
Is gluten-free food more nutritious?
No! It’s very important to view the “gluten-free” labeling on foods as just that. It doesn’t make it more nutritious, and often times, gluten-free processed products can be filled with stabilizers, synthetics, and toxins just like ALL food.
Why Should I Remove It?
For me, removing gluten was key to my recovery process with digestion issues, adrenal fatigue, and improving my overall health and wellness. I suffered from brain fog, weight gain, hair loss, lack of energy, and sporadic acne. If you’re suffering from unanswered ailments, it is worth examining if gluten may be affecting your health. After removing gluten from my diet, I realized just how much gluten is in everything. Remember that date night dinner? Well, before the main course arrived, you would have loaded up on gluten from your wine and beer, bread, and in many cases, the chips. As I said before, gluten is used as a glue or filler and is used in many of the processed foods you buy. Even if you don’t have a problem with gluten, I would suggest removing the excess gluten hidden in your diet before you develop a problem. I know plenty of healthy people eating moderate amounts of gluten, but the key is moderation.
How do I go gluten-free?
Look for the GF verified symbol like the one here. Beware of cross-contamination in restaurants and use my gluten-free checklist.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Celiac, I recommend getting all your information from The Celiac Disease Foundation. I also recommend you work with a holistic practitioner or dietician that knows how to heal leaky gut and specializes in supplementation for those with Celiac.
Cooking and baking your gluten-free alternatives is easy, considering gluten-free ingredients are everywhere. By the way, All recipes on I Am Zuri are gluten-free! These are some of the recipes that helped me navigate many holiday parties, handle late night cravings, and enjoy friends over for dinner parties. So…news flash, you can still indulge in chocolate cake, pizza, cookies, frittatas, waffles, pancakes, pies, bread and a bunch of other gluten-laden favorites, without EVER eating gluten again!
Traveling Gluten Free
The hardest part about being gluten-free is traveling and staying on diet with cross-contamination issues. Since I love to travel, I’ve figured out how to pull off keeping my strict gluten-free diet, no matter where I go.
- When traveling abroad, you’ll want to research the native language of the place you’re traveling, and discover what the word is for “gluten, wheat, flour, and rye.” This will allow you to communicate to a grocer or restaurant server, as well as read food packaging. Do you know how to say gluten in Spanish or French? Your gut will expect you to! Using google translate is an easy way to get information for the native language of your destination.
- You’ll want to pack your favorite gluten-free snacks. This will keep you from feeling hungry when you’re offered something that may be contaminated or is made with gluten.
- Stay somewhere with a kitchen or kitchenette, or pack a hot plate and cooking supplies.
- Look for gluten-free friendly restaurants, hotels, and retreats. You can call ahead and ask to speak to the concierge to determine how easy it will be to navigate your destination with your diet restrictions. In the larger cities across the U.S., it is fairly easy to eat out on a gluten-free diet.
- Locate grocery stores, farmers markets, and fresh food outlets, for fresh fruit and veggies. The concierge will be able to give you this information as well.
- Use my gluten-free checklist so you aren’t stuck memorizing so much on vacation.
What To Avoid When Eating Out!
- Fried foods can be contaminated with fry oil that has been used for gluten-laden items. So ordering French fries or fresh corn chips, for example, are not options if they’re also using that oil for breaded items, like calamari or fish and chips. It’s best to ask if the fry oil is used for items, other than your selection. Also, ask if they batter their fries or chips in anything ahead of frying.
- Sauces, dressings, and soups can also contain gluten as a thickening agent. Ask your server if the soup has been made fresh and if the chef can confirm that gluten was not added or consider any potential for contamination. For salad dressings, if your server isn’t sure, it’s best to avoid them. Many restaurants buy their dressing rather than making it from scratch. You can ask for oil and vinegar, but ask if the vinegar is gluten-free. Sounds silly, but you can also bring your own dressing.
- Condiments should also be avoided unless they are gluten-free. Mustards, ketchup, and mayo-based sauces are often offenders.
- Egg dishes can sometimes contain flour, giving the eggs a “fluffier” texture. Ask the server for just eggs in a new pan to be used.
- Meat dishes should be examined as well. Meatballs, meatloaf, and meat sauces are almost always thickened using breadcrumbs or flour. Be to ask your server what meat items are gluten-free.
- You never know what surfaces restaurants are using to cut their veggies, for example, or what toaster or microwave they are using to warm up items. Restaurants often reuse the same water, the same pans, and the same utensils to cook multiple items. The best practice is to tell your server why you are avoiding gluten. Once they understand that you have an allergy, an intolerance, or a disease, they will likely help to look for alternatives for you to try and should be accommodating.
- Use my gluten-free checklist so you don’t have to memorize all the nuances.
Question Rampage: Did you find this article helpful? Do you want more information on how to change your food buying and preparing habits?
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