Diagnosed with coeliac disease or eating wheat doesn’t make you feel good? The ‘experts’, those who have walked the same road, share their secrets of living a gluten-free life.
Wheat and other gluten-containing grains form a huge part of our modern diet. Excluding these foods may be challenging and you can often feel isolated at first. To make the transition to a gluten-free diet easier I’ve gathered together some wisdom from clients and others who live a happy and healthy life without these problematic grains.
Dealing with intolerance grief
Before reading the tips, check in with yourself.
Feeling rebellious, bargaining with yourself about what you can eat, or feel despair about it all?
If your intolerance or allergy is newly diagnosed, read this observational article about some common emotional reactions to this kind of diagnosis.
Top tips from others who can’t eat wheat or gluten
Need some help? Here are some tips I’ve gathered from working with gluten and wheat intolerant clients over the past couple of decades:
- Resist the urge to buy gluten-free junk food. Before your diet changed did you eat lots of cakes, biscuits, pastries, pies, bread and battered food? If you read this blog, I’m guessing probably not. So why feel ‘robbed’ of foods you didn’t really fancy anyway?
- Soy sauce is made from wheat. But tamari is gluten-free. It tastes the same (or better in my opinion). If you love sushi you might like to carry as small bottle of it with you.
- Some people with gluten sensitivity can eat oats, others can’t. It’s to do with the protein in oats called avenin. 1:5 coeliacs have an avenin intolerance, in the same way they react to gliadin in wheat. You won’t know until you try them. (More information available at Coeliac Australia)
- There are lots of enjoyable alternatives to bread, or even the overprices gluten-free loaves. Try arepas, dosa (this simplified Jamie Oliver recipe is great) or fresh 100% corn tortillas.
- Don’t always trust the “gluten-free” label. While Food Standards Australia New Zealand have a strict code concerning gluten-free labeling,; restaurant menus, markets and other food vendors slip under the radar . A common mistake is thinking spelt is gluten-free, when it’s actually a variety of wheat. While some chefs may be aware of naturally occurring gluten, you still need to check for gluten in pre-made foods such as processed meat, stock, vinegar, mustard and cornflour.
- Check your chips. Hot chips are fine when made from scratch but many eateries use frozen chips which can contain wheat dextrin. Cross contamination from cooking battered foods in the same deep fryer may also cause a problem.
- * You might have more than one food sensitivity. If all your symptoms don’t magically disappear on the new diet it’s possible you are not only gluten-sensitive but also reacting to another common food such as dairy or fructose.
- * Get out of the gluten-replacement mindset. Plan meals that don’t need gluten substitutes. There are so many tasty recipes using vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fish and/or meat that you won’t miss gluten.
- If your body can’t deal with gluten or wheat, you’ll never know how good you can feel until you give it up completely. Persevere with the transition, educate friends and family, and find local restaurants that understand how to avoid gluten.
Thanks for your comments, keep ’em coming. I’ve joined in the conversation (in italics).
“If you’re coeliac, watch out for gluten in spice mixes, tomato sauce, bbq sauce, some soymilk. Just read labels of everything!” K
Look for malt-free soy milk.
“Also for coeliacs, oats are harvested, processed with other grains so are not gluten free for coeliacs but you can get try gf oats from US but technically are supposed to do another biopsy to check you can consume them.” K
According to Coeliac Australia, our labeling laws prevent local manufacturers from calling oats gluten-free. The good news is that some local firms are selling oats free from cross-contamination. A bit of googling can save a lot of time and hopefully pain, if you’re one of the 4:5 coeliacs who can tolerate avenin.