One of the misconceptions people have when told they need to go gluten free or when others talk about it, is that they assume that all this diet consists of is cardboard, dust tasting food. On the contrary, there are many foods that are sweet, tasty and quite enjoyable. Yes, there are some modifications that take place when shopping, but overall, there are many options available.
The best and easiest place to shop for gluten free products are the farmer markets, farm stands, your own garden, natural food stores, meat markets and the perimeter of the grocery stores. Everything you find within the aisles of any store can become confusing and sometimes not so believable. So, those who are new to the venture eventually find it not worth the effort and resort to prescription and pain meds in order to alleviate their symptoms.
Keep in mind, that choosing to take on the Gluten Free lifestyle, is not a “diet” of sorts to lose weight. Yes, some lose weight while others gain a ton of weight. No matter what diet you follow in life, to maintain a healthy weight, or to lose weight, the four key elements to success are: 1.) moderation, 2.) portion control, 3.) healthy food choices, and 4.) exercise.
The simplest way to start the gluten free diet is to peruse the perimeter of your local grocery store. You have dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables. Everything a healthy diet needs.
DAIRY: Although my husband still enjoys the milk products, my daughters and I have found that we have health issues associated with it, so in the dairy aisle I still purchase the milk and cheese he prefers, yet I also select the soy or other non-milk products that agree to needs for my daughters and I. But, in this area there are many non-gluten products for many to enjoy:
- Milk, along with soy, rice, almond, coconut, goat milk, etc. The options are varied and plentiful.
- Butter & butter type substitutes: my favorite is Earth Balance as it has a soy option and a non-soy option. For baking I use a store brand spread that has no milk in its ingredients. For those with no milk allergies, take a moment to read the labels.
- Eggs – a healthy protein source when eaten in moderation. Fresh eggs are abudant from farm stands, farmers markets, health food stores, friends and neighbors.
- Yogurt – think of the healthy probiotics. It is best to stay away from the sugar filled flavored options and add your own fresh fruit. You have plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, and my favorite non-milk option of Silk soy yogurt that does not affect my stomach.
- Cheese – many choices for the cheese lover, and if you do not have milk allergies the options are endless. The only cheese option that I have found, that has a nice taste is not only dairy, whey, casein free, but also has no gluten fillers is Daiya – Score!!
MEAT: There are many choices of meats to select from. Fish, Seafood and Poultry are most frequently consumed at our table, but we also have beef products as well. I gravitate towards the protein sources that are free from additives, and when possible, purchase from local vendors.
In addition, when blessed with a catch, we enjoy fresh fish from local fishing areas as well as venison from my husbands’ hunting excursions. I must be honest, although one of my favorite meats, hunting season does not always provide for the table. When it does, it is a treat I am always willing to help ground, wrap and freeze, while my husband takes on the task of cutting into the different roasts, steaks, etc.
For processed meats, due to all the preservatives and additives, I tend to check the labels. There are still plenty of options, including items from the deli that are healthy choices, but is something that I rarely purchase. Sometimes I will get roasted turkey that I will add to a salad, while my husband might select ham or chicken. It is simply not something we frequently purchased. I do not purchase chicken fingers as they are coated with gluten flour, along with the fact I am not really sure what goes into them. I make my own chicken “fingers” by using the fresh chicken with no preservatives, cutting them into small pieces, then coating them in either a gluten free flour or a gluten free corn meal with a variety of seasonings.
My recommendation when purchasing meats is to check the labeling for all items you purchase. Anything that is packaged and preserved will have a stronger possibility of having gluten in it, but since I do not buy these frequently I currently cannot provide a list of ones that are free of it.
FRUITS & VEGGIES: Your palate awaits you!! You have farm stands, gardens, grocery stores, as well as family, friends, and neighbors who have an abundance to share. I have a small salad garden that I keep re-seeding so that I always have fresh spinach, lettuce and a few herbs throughout the summer months. So far I have picked blueberries and raspberries for immediate consumption along with freezing for future use in desserts, baked goods, jams and jellies.
The farm stands are a wonderful source for fresh produce, allowing you to select from a variety of fruits and vegetables. One thing to keep in mind when shopping at the stands is that some of the larger ones get produce from other sources in order for them to always have a full supply. Last year I picked up some garlic and upon getting home I discovered that it was imported from China. Yikes!! Oh well, lesson learned. Even with produce, we need to be attentive.
So, if you are new to the Gluten Free lifestyle, the food options are endless and healthy. When making a meal from any of the above items, you will enjoy a meal that is filling and not leave you hungry. There are baked items that one does not find on the perimeter of the store, yet the options for baked items are endlies, most especially if you enjoy or are willing to bake them yourself.
Enjoying the flavors of the gluten and milk free lifestyle,