What You Can and Cannot Eat on a Gluten-Free Diet
When you are diagnosed with gluten intolerance, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), or celiac disease, one of the first things you have to learn is what you can and cannot eat on a gluten-free diet.
Even if you don't have a condition where gluten is potentially harmful to your health and well-being, you may want to consider adopting a gluten-free diet. A Mediterranean gluten-free diet can be especially beneficial if you want to feel better, lose weight, and support your heart health while avoiding gluten.
If you already know what a gluten-free diet is then you can skip down to the sections below where we have further details and gluten-free recipes to help you adopt the gluten-free diet as part of your lifestyle.
What is Gluten?
“What is gluten?” you might be wondering. Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. If you have gluten sensitivity, then eliminating foods containing gluten and eating gluten-free foods can potentially reduce your risk of triggering chronic digestive problems like gas, pain, bloating, diarrhea, and other negative symptoms.
Often people eat too much gluten and don't realize that's the primary reason they're having digestive problems like diarrhea and bloating.
Most people can tolerate foods that contain gluten but too much gluten can potentially cause digestive problems and distress. Gluten is actually found in many foods that you wouldn't even expect. If you do have a gluten sensitivity, then eliminating gluten from your diet will reduce inflammation and keep your gut healthy.
Is a Gluten-Free Diet Good for You?
There are a lot of misconceptions about gluten and it gets a bad rap sometimes, but the fact is that it's found in many foods. Gluten can be found in almost everything, from beer to pasta and even potatoes with additives. Gluten is also found in natural grains like wheat or barley.
Gluten is not necessarily bad for you, particularly if your body can tolerate it. That being said, it is often stripped down, over-processed and placed into foods like potato chips, sauces, lunch meats, and salad dressings.
These over processed foods don't actually have whole-grain wheat in them, but mostly gluten that has been left over from the processing of the food. Whole wheat on the other hand is good for your body and gives you a consistent source of energy.
There are many reasons people switch to a gluten-free diet. It might be for health, to lose weight, or to feel more energetic. It’s always a good idea to take a gluten intolerance test or you can schedule a visit with your doctor to find out if you are diagnosed for celiac disease before you start a gluten-free diet.
Who Should Eat Naturally Gluten-Free Foods?
When should you eat naturally gluten-free foods? If you want to control your weight then you can avoid eating too much gluten or not any at all. There are some serious conditions that people have where they should avoid gluten to stay healthy and improve the quality of their life. Here are some common cases where you should definitely avoid consuming gluten:
If you have gluten sensitivity
If you notice that you are easily bloated or your stomach hurts after you eat foods with lots of gluten, like french fries or white bread, then you might want to avoid gluten because it's creating damage to your small intestine. This would be a great time to take a gluten intolerance test to figure out if gluten could be the cause of your negative symptoms. If you find out that you do have a gluten sensitivity, then it is recommended that you adopt the gluten-free diet.
People with celiac disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the intestines when high amounts of gluten are consumed. For people with celiac disease, gluten can be a serious problem and requires a consistent gluten free diet. When people with celiac disease consume gluten-containing foods, it can weaken their immune system and make them very sick.
If you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity
A gluten sensitivity is similar to a lactose intolerance. Some people’s digestive systems cannot process foods gluten containing foods similar to how some people cannot process lactose from dairy. They don't have celiac disease but their body has a hard time processing gluten even from healthy sources such as rye or wheat bread.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is more common than you might think and many people don't even realize they are eating foods containing gluten. If your stomach is sore or you are bloated after meals then it might be because you are eating foods that contain gluten. If you decide to go gluten-free then it is always a good idea to check that the food you buy is labeled gluten-free whether you are in the grocery store or out at a restaurant.
The Health and Mood benefits of a Gluten Free Diet
Adopting a gluten-free diet can have tons of physical health benefits, such as having more energy, a healthier gut, and lack of crashing due to blood sugar spike. People also adopt gluten-free diets because it also makes them feel better mentally.
It's been said that a gluten-free diet gives you a steady flow of blood to the brain which helps you concentrate. Many people anecdotally report that they also have a better mood when they eat the gluten-free diet.
What is a Gluten-Free Diet?
A gluten-free diet is a diet that avoids all gluten. This diet can be difficult to follow, difficult to cook for, and also difficult to find gluten-free options when dining out. If you need help start a gluten-free diet, then you should try fully prepared, gluten-free meals from ModifyHealth. Click here to view their meals: Gluten-Free Menu
What Kinds of Foods Are in a Gluten-Free Diet?
The gluten-free Mediterranean diet evolved from the way people used to eat in parts of The Mediterranean. It is often used because if done right, it eliminates processed foods.
A typical Mediterranean gluten-free dish you see today still has pretty much the ingredients as a traditional Greek recipe from thousands of years ago. Some gluten-free staple ingredients are:
- colorful vegetables like bell pepper, green veggies, and eggplants
- black olives (kalamata olives)
- whole wheat bread or flatbread
- feta cheese
- healthy fat (unsaturated) from olive oil
- proteins like fish, shrimp, and grilled chicken
- cherry tomatoes
- roasted red peppers
- lemon juice and lemon zest
- tahini sauce
- yogurt sauce
- roasted vegetables
- raw veggies
- chicken thighs
- fresh fruits
- frozen fruits
- potato flour
What Kinds of Foods Are NOT in a Gluten-Free Diet?
When people who have celiac disease eat gluten, their body's immune system reacts by damaging the small intestine. This can lead to health problems like malnutrition and osteoporosis.
People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity also need to watch out for foods that contain high levels of gluten. These foods can upset the small intestine and can cause bloating or even kidney stones. Some common foods with gluten-containing ingredients include:
- hot dogs
- certain alcoholic beverages like beer
- malt beverages
- processed fruits
- certain canned fruits
- meat substitutes like seitan (which are made from gluten)
- gluten containing wheat-like flour or spelt
- processed foods and snacks
Easy Gluten-Free Diet Recipes for Weight Loss and Good Health
Healthy recipes are filled with gluten-free alternatives and gluten-free bread made from healthy grains, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
A naturally gluten-free diet is also packed with fresh vegetables like roasted red peppers, sweet potatoes, and greens. One general rule that will help you follow a gluten-free diet is to eat a variety of different vegetables.
Below are some simple, yummy, yet healthy recipes you can try at home. These are some of our favorite gluten-free foods and they are relatively inexpensive since they contain lots of vegetables and greens that you can get for a reasonable price.
Hearty Gluten-Free Salad
This is one of those healthy gluten-free recipes you'll be able to make create with infinite variations. Try it with cherry tomatoes, chopped olives, red onion, cucumbers, gluten-free orzo (pasta), and whatever else you desire.
This hearty salad can go any direction you want and it’s great with cheese too. Many people like to make a protein-packed salad with rice flour orzo, vegetables, and other naturally gluten-free foods.
Gluten-Free Roasted Cabbage Steaks
These roasted cabbage steaks take the cake, except without all the gluten of a traditional cake. These are simple to make! All you need is some lemon and lemon rind along with a grill, but baking can lead to a similar effect if you prefer the oven.
A nice drizzle of olive oil and your favorite herbs is all you need. This idea above has parsley and coriander. Cabbage lasts a long time so you can keep it on hand ready to make this recipe anytime you'd like.
Gluten-Free Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free. Sweet potatoes don't contain any gluten and can be enjoyed baked or fried (most cooking oils are gluten-free).
Fried is safe as long as you eat fried foods in moderation. Once a week is a general consensus. This one is packed with garbanzo beans, green onion, and lemon for taste.
It's topped with a Greek yogurt sauce to give it that creamy taste and can be twice-baked through the oven. Most of these recipes you can eat at any time of day as well.
Greek Yogurt With Oatmeal and Berries
Pure oats are gluten-free and oh so healthy! This is a very berry Greek yogurt treat you can have in the morning which keeps you fueled up until lunchtime.
This recipe has mixed berries and yogurt, raw oatmeal, strawberries, blackberries, and bananas. This is quite a big serving and can easily serve more than one person. Typically, you'd use a third cup of yogurt.
Try adding your own twists and favorites to it like dark chocolate or cacao nibs (even better for you). You can easily make this overnight and just toss the fruit in with the oats in the morning.
Some people like to let the yogurt sit with the oatmeal overnight and can be made with low-fat, full-fat, or non-fat yogurt.
One-Pot Greek Chicken
What's more simple and perfect than a roasted chicken with a side of gluten-free boiled basmati rice? There are many types of rice that are gluten-free like whole grain brown rice and Texmati. The flavors of a gluten-free recipe like this one make it appropriate for any time of year.
This recipe is a mix of Spanish and Moroccan flavors along with a bit of Italian. The trick to a great roasted chicken is to marinate it beforehand.
Some spices you can use for that authentic flavor include sumac, allspice, and paprika. If you want you can use Italian herbs or mix and match everything.
It's always good to use a little bit of lemon and parsley too. You can do this in a cast-iron skillet or whatever kind of saucepan you have available.
Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant
Colorful purple eggplants are almost as fun to look at as they are to eat. This dish is high in protein and contains plenty of essential nutrients.
It's high in fiber and a good source of iron, which keeps your blood cells nice and healthy to support a strong immune system.
It's a very soothing meal on the stomach and a great energy booster high in both vitamin D2 and vitamin delicious. High magnesium and iron content will keep your body detoxed as well as reduce inflammation.
Avocado Toast With a Poached Egg
Get excited for this one! You don’t even need the toast if you’d rather just turn it into the ultimate gluten-free breakfast bowl. This dish is packed full of protein and healthy fat, which will give you long lasting energy without crashing.
The ooey-gooey poached egg makes the best sauce and it only takes 5 mins to make after the water boils. Gluten free toast, fresh avocado, and a poached egg make the perfect trio. All you have to do is bring it to a boil and then turn it down low. Two minutes later your egg is ready to be put on the toast that is made from naturally gluten-free grains.
Grilled Gluten-Free Chicken With Balsamic Sauce
Here's another chicken recipe that's easy to make! All you have to do is just marinate it six to eight hours before you're ready to eat. You can make it with whatever kinds of balsamic vinegar you have, like pomegranate or any other dark vinegar.
Use fresh herbs and mustard along with the marinade and a little bit of tomato paste to give it the right flavor. It's another easy one that will take a little prep and maybe 30 minutes to bake.
Gluten-Free Spanish Garlic Shrimp
Shrimp is another great option that a majority of people put on the top of their list for protein and healthy fats. Sweet shrimp is a great and a tasty option to try.
As we said, part of the gluten-free diet incorporates red juices that have plenty of antioxidants, such as wine. Wine pairs great with the sweet shrimp so try to use red wine or sherry wine.
You can also use rice to soak up all the flavor and feel free to spice it up if you don't like it plain. You'll feel like you've taken a plane to Spain as soon as you take the first bite.
How to Follow a Gluten-Free Diet Meal Plan
If you are transitioning to a gluten-free diet or you just want to try it, then it's usually best to start gradually to ensure a lifestyle change. However, if you are very disciplined, then you can probably jump into the gluten-free diet and start right away.
Tips for Eating Out
Many restaurants serve gluten-containing grains in their dishes. When eating out, it is important to be aware of the ingredients that are in each dish. There are many gluten-free options available, but it is important to ask about the ingredients in each dish.
Try to avoid bread and pasta made from wheat flour, unless the restaurant has specific gluten-free options for bread and pasta. There are many other gluten-free options available, such as salads, fruits, and proteins.
There are many gluten-free starches that people with celiac diease and those with gluten sensitivities can enjoy. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Potatoes: Potatoes are a great gluten-free starch option. They can be boiled, mashed, or roasted.
- Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are another delicious gluten-free starch option. They can be roasted, mashed, or used in sweet dishes.
- Brown Rice: Brown rice is also a great gluten-free starch option. It has a nutty flavor and can be boiled or microwaved.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a great gluten-free starch option. It has a nutty flavor and can be boiled or microwaved.
Gluten-Free Fruits and Vegetables
Gluten-free vegetables that are non-starchy include broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, and more. Salads are a great way to get your vegetable fix, but make sure you use gluten-free salad dressing.
Stick to Fruits With Low Acidity to be safe
Fruits are always a good choice as long as the acid content isn't a problem for your stomach. Some fruit juices, like orange juice, can be acidic and might bother your stomach. Stick to low-acid fruits like bananas, apples, and pears to be safe.
Healthy Gluten-Free Protein Sources
There are many healthy protein sources that are gluten-free. These include turkey, fish, chicken, beef, eggs, and tofu. These protein sources are all healthy and nutritious.
Avoid Gluten-Containing Grains
Be sure to avoid any gluten-containing grains when following a gluten-free diet. These include wheat, barley, rye, and oats. These grains can cause health problems for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Start Your Gluten-Free Diet Today
If you have celiac disease or non-celiac disease gluten sensitivity, it's important to ditch gluten-containing ingredients for good!
Symptoms of celiac disease include loose bowel movements, bloating, flatulence, constipation, acid reflux, heartburn, stomach pain, skin rash, anemia, tingling and pain in the hands and feet, and tooth decay. All of these symptoms can be caused by eating foods containing gluten.
If you are having trouble starting or following a gluten-free diet, then let ModifyHealth be your partner on this journey. We can help you on your journey by providing fully prepared. Gluten-free meals delivered right to your front door. Check out our menu with 30+ gluten-free dishes here: Explore Our Gluten-Free Menu