Have you ever wondered “what exactly does gluten free mean?” or “why do people eat gluten free?”. Do you suffer from Celiac Disease and or a gluten intolerance but don’t quite understand what that means and how it will change your life? Let’s talk about the gluten free diet and a gluten free diet plan.
I have my own personal story with going gluten free, as many people do. I spent years feeling unwell, to the point where I was essentially bedridden in my early 20s. I went to so many doctors that I simply lost count. Each time I left with no answers. Frustrated and confused, my mother and I began to do our own research. My cousin a few years prior had been diagnosed with something called “Celiac Disease”. We knew he could not have flour, but, beyond that not much. This is the guide that I wish I had had when I found out I needed to cut gluten and wheat from my life.
What exactly is gluten?
If you have ever worked with regular flour to make (well, anything) you know that it gets a stickiness about it. If you are making pizza dough, or pie crust, or bread, or cookies, there is an elasticity to the dough / batter. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat flour and creates the elasticity in baked goods. If you ever see someone kneading bread, that is to help build up the gluten protein.
What happens to your body when you stop eating gluten?
If you have Celiac Disease and or a gluten intolerance, gluten and wheat are detrimental to the body. Your intestines absorb the nutrients from your food and are responsible for maintaining good gut health. The intestines are lined with micro-tentacles called villi.
When someone who should not have gluten has gluten, it attacks the villi that line the walls of the intestines. The way I best like to describe this action is that gluten acts like sandpaper to the villi. It will wear them down until they no longer exist. This leads to ulcers in the intestines, blood in the stool, extreme pain, cramping, upset stomach, and if left untreated, it can lead to intestinal cancers.
Gluten for others can be non-GI related. For some people, gluten causes migraines, general fogginess, and depression.
To see your best results from a gluten free diet, you need to abstain from any form of gluten for at least 2 weeks.
What foods should you avoid when you are gluten free?
This can vary from person to person however, if you have Celiac Disease and or an intolerance, you should avoid the following foods:
This leads us to the question: What can you actually have if you need to eat a gluten free diet?
“Are potatoes gluten free?”, “is coffee gluten free?”, “is butter gluten free?”, “is rice gluten free?”
Yes! The answer is yes. There are so many things that are gluten free. Let’s talk about some flours first and foremost that are safe for you to use.
- Buckwheat (doesn’t actually have wheat and is safe!)
- Teff Flour
- Sorghum Flour
- Potato Flour
- Arrowroot Flour
- Brown Rice Flour
- Oat Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Tapioca Starch (or Flour)
- Potato Starch
- Almond Flour
- Quinoa Flour
- Chickpea Flour
- Amaranth Flour
- White Rice Flour
- Corn Flour
- Cassava Flour
Why is gluten bad for you and should everyone be on a gluten free diet plan?
The short answer: no
Not everyone should be on a gluten free diet. Gluten is fine for those who do not have an underlying condition. That condition can be external of Celiac Disease and or a gluten intolerance. Some individuals with Crohn’s Disease have found relief from a gluten free diet plan, and or other GI issues. Some parents of children with Autism also praise a gluten free diet for helping their children focus. I am of course not saying that everyone should try this, but, if you want to try going gluten free, then by all means, give it a go. However, you should not be approaching a gluten free diet to lose weight. It is not a healthy way to go about it. If you are wishing to improve your overall health, then, give it a go!
Let’s make a gluten free diet plan!
I have put together a meal plan for one week. This way, you can give it a go and see if you find it simple and or helpful to you!
- You can of course decide to double up on meals / recipes as you will likely have leftovers, however, this just gives you a general idea of what you can have throughout the week!
Things to remember before embarking on a gluten free diet plan:
- Read read read! You need to read every ingredient listed on what you purchase. Gluten can hide in the trickiest of places (like shampoo, and lotion- see Aveeno.) Gluten is in things that you would not necessarily expect, like salad dressings, and is the first ingredient listed in Soy Sauce (don’t worry, gluten free tamari is great- as are coconut aminos!)
- Just because you assume something to be gluten free, does not mean it is. Things like Quaker Oats, Corn Flakes, etc, are not gluten free. See #1.
- Even if you are a beginner, this is a good meal plan for you. Nothing on this list is overly ambitious, especially if you know how to cook.
- Some brands that I love for flours are King Arthur Flour, Cup4Cup, and Bob’s Red Mill. Pastas: La Venziane, Barilla, and Delallo.