Meal plan for a gluten-free diet

Written by tamara moffett
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Meal plan for a gluten-free diet
Foods for a gluten-free diet (vegetables image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com)

Gluten is a protein that exists in certain grains. This protein can pose big problems when consumed by people with celiac disease. Most celiac disease sufferers are required to adopt a gluten-free diet. This involves avoiding any and all food items that contain gluten. While this may seem like a hassle, with a little planning you can create a gluten-free meal plan that is both nutritious and appetising.

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Benefits

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that prevents your small intestine from properly absorbing nutrients from food. According to MayoClinic.com, if you suffer from celiac disease, gluten causes your small intestines to become inflamed. This can lead to symptoms like weight loss, constipation, diarrhoea, skin rashes, abdominal pain and fatigue. According to the Children’s Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation, improper nutrient absorption can cause more serious complications like anaemia, bone density reduction and vitamin deficiencies. If you have celiac disease, creating and sticking to a meal plan for a gluten-free diet can help keep your condition under control and help prevent more serious complications.

Foods to include

Your meal plan should include only foods that are completely free of gluten. This includes foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and rice. Add some orange slices and a glass of low-fat milk to your breakfast tray. Grab a handful of grapes or a cup of low-fat yoghurt for an afternoon snack. Dress up your dinner plate with some steamed vegetables, baked fish or chicken and a delicious rice or potato side dish. You can even enjoy a glass of wine or cider with your meal. When cooking or baking with flour, be sure to use gluten-free flours like rice, soy or corn flour.

Specialty products

Adopting a gluten-free diet does not mean that you have to prepare all of your meals from scratch. Many grocery stores and online retailers offer a wide variety of specialty gluten-free products that you can add to your meal plan. This includes products like gluten-free breads, cookies, cakes and pastas.

Foods to avoid

When developing your meal plan, be sure to keep foods that contain gluten off your shopping list. This includes grains like rye, wheat and barley, semolina, coarse whole-wheat flour, oats and breads. Many popular processed foods contain gluten. This includes sweets, cookies, sauces and gravies, cereals, processed meats and salad dressings. Try to stay clear of beverages like beer that may also contain gluten.

Meal preparation

Meal preparation is another important aspect of maintaining a gluten-free diet. According to the Children’s Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation, improper food preparation practices can cause your gluten-free food items to become contaminated with gluten. This can occur if you use the same utensils, cookware, containers or surfaces to prepare both the gluten-free foods and the foods that contain gluten. To avoid unwanted contamination, use separate utensils and cookware to prepare items that contain gluten and those that are gluten-free. If you must use the same utensils, be sure to wash them thoroughly before each use.

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