The Ultimate Gluten-Free Guide

Between more allergies and the usual diet fads, it seems like gluten is escaping breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates everywhere. The gluten-free isle in the grocery store continues to expand, as well as most restaurant menus who now offer numerous gluten-free meals. 

But what’s most interesting, are the people reaching for these gluten-free alternatives who do not have Celiac Disease or even an intolerance to gluten. I think it’s safe to say, going gluten-free is the latest trend. 

Having my own gluten allergy for the past six years, I’ve been able to finagle what I can and cannot eat, which gluten-free brands taste like cardboard, and most importantly what I can still drink on the weekends.

Whether you just found out that you and gluten don’t mix, or you want to test out a gluten-free lifestyle, I’ve created the ultimate gluten-free guide. Enjoy! 

What the heck is gluten?  

  • It is considered a protein.
  • Found in foods processed from wheat, a.k.a. “true gluten” but is also a part of other grains such as rye and barley 
  • Gives the elasticity to dough which allows it to rise

What You Should Know:

  • Gluten is everywhere, in everything. If something tastes good, it probably contains gluten of some sort. Companies, restaurants, and everyday people use wheat as a filler. 
  • According to the Gluten Intolerance Group (GiG), there is no actual evidence proving that a gluten-free diet is beneficial for people who do not have gluten-related disorders. 
  • HOWEVER, many people do claim that their overall health feels better once they are on a gluten-free diet. 
  • If your gluten-free diet is not done correctly, you can lack essential vitamins, minerals and fiber which are often found in products containing gluten. 

Surprising Foods that Usually Contain Gluten:

  • Salad dressings - obviously not all, but most do especially when they’re from restaurants, ex. Creamy Caesar
  • Sauces (soy and teriyaki), gravy, and marinades (the wheat is used to thicken the product)
  • Soups - Most of Panera's soups, ex. Broccoli Cheddar 
  • Cereal - ex. Corn Flakes
  • French fries and all fried food
  • Granola and cereal bars - ex. Special K Cereal Bars all contain wheat
  • Matza

Best Alternative Brands:

  • Rudi’s gluten-free Spinach Wraps and loafs of bread
  • Enjoy Life - Coco Loco Bars
  • All Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flours
  • Glutino gluten-free pretzels, Glutino in general
  • Udi’s gluten-free muffins and bagels
  • Rice is a grain but does not contain gluten
  • Quinoa Pasta, naturally gluten-free
  • Annie's gluten-free Macaroni'n'cheese
  • Schar products

Alcohol

  • An on-going debate because most alcohols are derived from wheat, barley or rye but are distilled so many times that the gluten becomes “untraceable.” 
  • To stay safe, look for vodkas that come from a potato, grape, or corn base. ex. Ciroc, Smirnoff, Three Olive, Titos
  • All beer contains gluten! Unless stated otherwise.
  • Wine tequila and rum are all gluten-free.
  • Hard Cider is usually gluten free. ex. Angry Orchard is safe.

Pros to going gluten-free

  • Some say they feel less bloated and lose weight once they start a gluten-free diet. Although again, this is not scientifically proven. 
  • You eat less processed foods considering almost everything store bought and restaurant made will contain gluten thus forcing you to cook more of your own meals and have a more vegetable and fruit based diet.
  • You’re more aware of what you’re actually eating.

Cons

  • When that basket of warm doughy bread gets plopped in front of you at your favorite restaurant that’s a big no-no. Will power is necessary. 
  • No real beer.
  • It’s overall a hassle, reading the ingredients to everything and constantly asking waiters and waitresses questions. 
  • Gluten-free food is VERY expensive.
  • Gluten-free alternative breads and products are usually significantly smaller than gluten-filled food items. 
  • And of course, no bread!!!

*All photos compliments of Google Images.

Info Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.