Learn how to eat gluten free when you dine out and travel, and how to eat a gluten free diet in your own home with my best gluten free diet tips and easy gluten free diet recipes!
If you are new to gluten free living, you will want to check out my Gluten Free Pantry Guide so you can read about the different gluten free flours and ingredients.
How to Eat Gluten Free Anywhere
Eating a gluten free diet can be a challenge. Knowing how to eat gluten free at home is one thing, but what about traveling? Gluten free dining has become easier in large cities, but knowing where it's safe to eat a gluten free diet isn't always a Google search away. Here are my best gluten free diet tips to help you know how to eat gluten free anywhere!
Eating gluten free has been a lifestyle for me and my family for several years now. Choosing and cooking gluten free foods has become somewhat second nature now, but it hasn't always been that way!
When our family was first diagnosed, shopping and figuring out what to cook was time-consuming and often confusing. I created this guide of gluten-free basics to help out those in the same position I was in a few years ago!"
Commonly Asked Questions about a Gluten Free Diet:
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a broad term to describe the naturally-occurring proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. Think of gluten as an ingredient serves as a glue, holding the food’s shape together. Today's diet is very rich in these grains, and it seems like gluten is a huge part of today’s food.
You may notice when you first try to bake gluten-free, foods tend to fall apart. This is because gluten-free substitutes like rice flour and sorghum flour don't have the glue factor that wheat has. There are ways to combat this lack of stickiness in gluten-free baking. I mostly use Xanthan Gum, but many who are gluten free also use Guar Gum.
Why Go Gluten Free?
If you suffer from celiac disease, a gluten free diet is the only treatment to reduce the painful symptoms associated with this hypersensitivity to gluten.
Many people experience some level of intolerance to gluten and may be unaware that gluten is the source of physical discomfort. Some signs of Celiac include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and other GI issues.
Gluten intolerance can also show the same symptoms as Celiac, but you can have wildly different symptoms too. Gluten intolerance is also linked to many autoimmune diseases because of the inflammation gluten can cause in some people. Some have also described weight loss, increased energy and a better mood after going gluten-free...but usually these improvements are due to a lessening of inflammation in the body.
Before I went gluten free, I used several asthma medications. After being gluten-free for 3 months, I was able to go off all of them. I believe it was the inflammation and how it manifested in my lungs that caused my issues.
What Can I Eat on a Gluten Free Diet?
While many foods contain gluten, there are lots of alternative options available that will fulfill a balanced diet.
Fruits, veggies, meats, poultry, fish and other seafood, dairy, beans, legumes, and nuts are all naturally gluten-free. Many grains, like rice, corn, soy, quinoa, flax, sorghum, hemp, and teff are gluten-free.
If you’re unsure, read the nutrition labels when you’re shopping because not all permitted food will be marked as gluten-free. At the same time, seemingly gluten-free foods may not be safe to eat."
Oats can be a bit controversial due to cross-contamination issues. Oats are often be contaminated during harvesting and processing. If you are able to tolerate oats, it is very important that the oats you buy be labeled “gluten free.” Food products with the gluten free label should be safe for this diet.
What Should I Avoid on a Gluten Free Diet?
When you are learning how to eat gluten free, you will realize that gluten foods are everywhere! The big three gluten-rich grains to avoid are:
This means mainstream foods like pasta, bread, crackers, baked goods, and cereals are an obvious no-no.
Gluten can also be hidden in foods like soups, sauces and salad dressings. Malt, soy sauce, and many other flavorings and additives contain gluten. Wine and alcohol are almost always gluten free, beer is definitely not (unless you are enjoying a gluten-free beer!)
Steer clear of breaded meats or veggies and even foods fried in the same oil as gluten may be contaminated."
Many foods with gluten now have alternative gluten-free options sold at the supermarkets. Look for the “gluten free” aisle in the supermarket for bread, pasta, and even beer that sticks to the diet. Make sure your diet is well balanced and you’re on your way to a healthy, gluten free lifestyle.
Some people are also very sensitive to gluten in their personal care products like shampoo, skincare, toiletries, and even medications.
** Here is a comprehensive list of where gluten can be hiding in foods from Celiac.org. Hidden gluten on food labels is a HUGE concern and there needs to be labeling that is more clear. It is very well written and I bet some of the foods listed will surprise you!
Is there gluten in wine and alcoholic beverages?
The majority of alcoholic beverages are gluten free. The distilling process removes the gluten in a safe way. My friend, Jules created a great write up on gluten and alcohol if you would like more information.
As for wine, it really depends. Oak barrels are sealed with a wheat paste. Many winemakers do remove this paste, others are now using wax. Aluminum barrels do not use this paste. You can read more about gluten in wine and learn more.
Gluten Free Recipe Essentials
Desserts are something that I have a difficult time saying no to. I have over 100 gluten free dessert recipes on my blog but here are a few of our favorite gluten free dessert essentials:
- How to Make a Gluten Free Pie Crust (it is perfect for galettes and hand pies too!)
- Edible Cookie Dough(not only is this a frosting or edible dough, but it also makes an awesome ice cream pie crust!)
- How to Make Homemade Gluten Free Waffle Cones (My son came up with this idea before there were gluten free cones on the market.)
- The Easiest No Fail Gluten Free Apple Cake(This is one of the most popular cakes on my blog. It is creamy and delicious!)
Best Gluten Free Comfort Food Recipes
If you're wondering what to eat on a gluten free diet and concerned that with gluten foods removed, there will be nothing delicious to eat, don't worry! There are plenty of delicious foods to eat on a gluten free diet! Thanks to gluten free recipes and some store-bought gluten free products, you can even enjoy comfort foods like pizza and pasta!
- Easy Gluten Free Grilled Pizza Crust (This gluten free pizza crust makes the best gluten free pizza I've ever eaten!)
- How to Cook Gluten Free Pasta (Al Dente every time!)
- Gluten Free Fried Cheese Sticks (Because these are an addiction of mine :-). I can't resist the melty cheese!)
- Cold Busting Chicken Turmeric Soup (This soup is wonderful if you need some anti-inflammatory healthy chicken soup!)
Are There Risks with a Gluten Free Diet Plan?
If you cannot fill the nutritional gaps left behind by gluten, you can risk deficiencies in certain nutrients, commonly in B vitamins or dietary fiber.
Talk to your doctor before going gluten free. They may ask you to do a blood test so that your nutrient levels can be monitored. Taking supplements and eat high-fiber foods like brown rice, fruits, veggies, and beans can help you keep the balance.
How Do I Start a Gluten Free Diet?
It is best to check with your doctor before committing to a gluten free diet. It is important to get a Celiac disease screening test if you suspect you may have an issue with gluten. Once you are gluten free, you can't get this testing done because gluten has to be in your system in order for a Celiac test to register any issues.
After that, start cooking and experimenting in the kitchen! We donated all of our gluten-filled foods that weren't open to a local charity."
How Long Does it Take to See Results?
Do your best to stick with the gluten free diet for at least 45-60 days in order to fully experience the effects of a gluten free diet on your body.
When you're first learning how to eat gluten free, the temptation is everywhere. Try not to cheat. If you accidentally ingest gluten, which can happen when you dine out, try a supplement called Glutenese to lessen the symptoms. (I often find when you go gluten free and your body begins to heal, your symptoms after eating gluten can worsen.)
Take before and after pictures or write a journal to document your transition. Keep track of the gluten free foods you like."
Eating Gluten Free at Home
Here is a link to my pantry guide. This is a great resource for the best brands of gluten free baking flours, cooking tools, and gluten free pantry items like oils and nuts that any foodie or home cook will love! These are all of the gluten free brands I love and use all of the time.
Learning how to eat gluten free is about knowledge, so educate yourself. We're here to help!
How to Find Gluten Free Foods and Recipes
Eating gluten-free can be expensive! Once you know what gluten free foods you like, it is easy to save money. I tend to shop at Walmart and Costco quite a bit because they charge a lot less money for the SAME gluten free foods!
I have a list of all of the gluten free foods that I have found at both Walmart and Costco. If you find other foods that should be added to the lists, let me know! I will add your suggestions so other people can be helped! You can also save money by buying gluten-free food in bulk from Amazon.
Search for gluten free recipes here on Fearless Dining and get creative! If you have family comfort food recipes that you are worried you will miss when you go gluten free, I would love to help you convert the recipe to gluten free. Just send me a note :-).
4 Easy Gluten Free Breakfast Recipes
- Quick and Easy Homemade Granola - Learning how to eat gluten free means being prepared! I like to take a bag of dry granola with me for snacking during the day. If you are grain-free, this Paleo Granola is delicious!
- The BEST Gluten Free Donuts Recipes - This is the best ever gluten free donut recipes!
- The Fluffiest Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins Ever - Use any fruit you have on-hand!
- Gluten Free Crepes (dairy free too!) And this savory gluten free crepes recipe too!
Popular Gluten Free Recipes
- Gluten Free Fried Chicken (Learning how to eat gluten free is easy with the ultimate in comfort food)
- The Best Gluten Free Meatballs (Hidden veggies and egg free, too!)
- Simple Alfredo Sauce
- Gluten Free Focaccia Bread (Made in a cast iron skillet!)
More Favorite Recipes for a Gluten Free Diet
Learning how to eat gluten free isn't difficult, especially when you have delicious foods for your gluten free meal plan. Here are more of my favorite gluten free diet recipes.
- Light and Fluffy Gluten Free Cheddar Herb Muffins
- Gluten Free Churros
- Our Favorite Gluten Free Scones (you can use any mix-ins!)
- Gluten Free Flaky Pastries (not as hard to make as people think!)
- The Only Kale My Kids Will Eat
- How to Make Gluten Free Souffles
Eating Gluten Free Away From Home
Learning how to eat gluten free when you're away from home requires PLANNING.
*Here are my top articles on safe gluten free restaurant dining.
If you are going to a party, out to dinner, or having dinner at a friend's home, you can avoid problems with potential exposure to gluten foods by taking these condiments along with you.
- tamari sauce - If you're going to be eating Asian food, this is a must! It's important to make sure that there isn't any soy sauce in the dish because it contains gluten. Bring along some tamari so you can experience the soy sauce flavor without risk.
- gluten free salad dressing
- gluten free ketchup
Other common foods with gluten that may surprise you:
- pickled foods - Surprising, right? Some pickling processes include malt vinegar, which has gluten.
- hot dogs - Thankfully, there are many varieties of gluten-free hot dogs available, but if you're at a ballpark, don't assume that they have a gluten-free variety. Opt for a bunless burger instead.
Gluten Free Restaurant Dining
If you're dining out, be sure to call ahead or check the website to learn what gluten free menu items are available. You should also check out my tips for safe gluten free dining.
Gluten-Free Living Magazine also has a TON of good resources on finding gluten-free dining establishments in your area.
Final Tips on Eating a Gluten Free Diet
As you have seen, learning how to eat a gluten free diet requires planning, research, preparation, and education. My hope is that you've found this information useful and will continue to use Fearless Dining as your go-to source for gluten free diet tips and gluten free recipes!
Do you have tips that can help people?