Is a gluten-free diet the right choice for you? It’s a question you’ve probably found yourself asking given the plethora of articles about the potential benefits of eliminating gluten. Although we don’t recommend going gluten-free unless you have a medical reason to do so, this beginner’s gluten-free diet plan will give you some ideas for hearty, gluten-free meals every time of the day.
Breakfast can usually be a meal rich in wheat and you may find yourself despairing of how to replace the usual slice of toast with something large and gluten-free. We have listed some breakfast ideas below that will give you the slow energy you need in the form of complex carbs and protein.
Celiac disease occurs in about 1% of the population, according to a study done in Lancet (Opens in a new tab) The magazine, which may not sound like much but that translates to millions of people who need information and access to good gluten-free food and meal ideas. So, if you’re going gluten-free for the first time, read on for our comprehensive guide.
The gluten-free diet: foods to eat
Many foods are naturally gluten-free and can make a great starchy basis for your meals. Potatoes, rice, and legumes are a great alternative to wheat-based products, and you may be able to find some gluten-free alternatives to things like pasta that use these as a main ingredient (for example, gluten-free lentil pasta). Below we list some of our favorite gluten-free meals, most of which are based on naturally gluten-free foods, as opposed to the gluten-free alternative you might buy at the supermarket.
We spoke to Naomi Libet, MD, a dietitian with celiac disease at good nutrition specialist (Opens in a new tab), who told us celiac can trust the cross grain symbol. “Although individuals with celiac disease should avoid gluten, it is safe to eat many foods including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, lentils, legumes, potatoes, corn, fruits and vegetables,” she says. Gluten-free grains include rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth, arrowroot, and teff. Foods marked “gluten-free” or marked with a cross-grain symbol are also safe to eat, as are any prepackaged foods that don’t contain gluten such as soup or prepared meals.
Some foods are originally made from wheat, but their end products do not contain gluten, such as glucose syrup or maltodextrin, and are therefore safe for consumption. If a food label warns that a food “may” contain traces of gluten, it may be best to speak with the manufacturer.
The gluten-free diet: foods to avoid
You need to avoid foods made with wheat, barley, spelt, and rye, all of which are gluten-containing grains. If you have celiac disease, you will also need to be careful of cross-contamination. Some foods, such as oats, can be contaminated with gluten as it is often processed in factories that handle both oats and wheat. In that case, you may want to buy gluten-free oats to be on the safe side. In addition, a lot of processed foods contain gluten, as it is a cheap ingredient and is used for breeding, so it is best to eat fresh meals to ensure that they are gluten-free.
Leppitt also advises taking special care with cross-contamination. “To avoid gluten contamination in food, it is recommended to use toast bags in the roaster and to use separate spreads and jam at home,” she says.
It also flags oats as a potential problem food. Oats are often produced in the same location that wheat, barley or rye are used in their other products, so there may be a risk of cross-contamination. It’s best to buy gluten-free oats, but some people with celiac disease are also sensitive to gluten-free oats because they contain a protein called avenin that has a similar structure to gluten.”
7 day gluten free diet menu
- breakfast: Oatmeal prepared with your choice of milk, topped with fresh berries and chia seeds
- lunch: Potato jacket with tuna, sweet corn and cauliflower
- Dinner: zucchini lasagna
- breakfast: Buckwheat pancakes with golden syrup and strawberries
- lunch: Peel mushrooms with boiled eggs
- Dinner: Crispy tofu and fried vegetables with rice noodles
- breakfast: Green juice and a slice of buttered toast, gluten-free
- lunch: Smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and arugula
- Dinner: Chickpea and coconut curry with rice
- breakfast: Baked eggs with spinach and tomatoes
- lunch: Red lentil pasta with pesto, pine nuts and parmesan
- Dinner: Beef and bean broth with rich tomato sauce
- breakfast: Brown mashed with mushrooms, tomatoes and fried eggs
- lunch: Sweet potato stuffed with black bean sauce and smoked cheese
- Dinner: Tagine lamb
- breakfast: Bacon, eggs, and gluten-free sausage with a slice of gluten-free toast with butter.
- lunch: Teriyaki tofu with broccoli and rice
- Dinner: Shepherd’s pie with a layer of potatoes and cheese
- breakfast: Smoked haddock with peas
- lunch: Spicy Spanish tortilla
- Dinner: Roast beef with roast potatoes, homemade onion broth (thickened with cornmeal) and honey glazed carrots.
Gluten Free Diet: Tips for Beginners
Dr Marion Sloan, GP from the UK and president of the Primary Care Gastroenterology Association, recommends a medical test for celiac disease, gluten intolerance or wheat allergy. “It’s always a good idea to get tested first before adopting a GF diet,” she says. She also points out that relying on gluten-free alternatives to foods like pasta or bread may end up being expensive and unsustainable for some. “It’s probably so much more expensive that people say I can’t stick to this diet because it costs so much,” she says.
Libet adds that while diagnosing celiac can be difficult, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. “It can be difficult to come to terms with a diagnosis of celiac disease, because it is a lifelong condition for which there is no known cure, and the only treatment is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet,” she says. “With growing awareness of nutritional status and trends, gluten-free foods on the market are always expanding, so individuals with celiac disease have more options in ready-to-eat products than they had several decades ago.
“I also recommend speaking with a dietitian for professional advice and to book annual blood tests with your GP to rule out related conditions and to review nutrient levels, as a way to confirm that your gut lining is repaired from a good gluten-free diet. It is also important to remember that mistakes happen, and that Making an accidental mistake will not cause significant or permanent damage to the intestinal lining, but symptoms may appear soon after exposure and may persist for several days.”
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice.