A good rule of thumb to determine the gluten status of most seemingly "safe" foods is the amount of processing it has gone through before ending up on your plate. The higher the processing, the more likely it is to contain some form of gluten. The Gluten Intolerance Group points out that "wheat-free" does not equal "gluten-free." If you are unsure of the gluten status of a processed food, it is safer to leave it out of your diet and go for a known gluten-free alternative.
Breakfast is one of the more challenging meals of the day because so many breakfast foods rely on grains that contain gluten. However, you can still manage to have a healthy and tasty breakfast that is gluten-free. According to the Gluten Intolerance Group, unprocessed oatmeal is a gluten-free grain that can be enjoyed as a hearty and healthy breakfast. If you prefer a cold breakfast, look for oat- or nut- based muesli to enjoy as a cereal or added to yogurt for crunch. Remember to always read the ingredient list for all processed foods since many will contain flour, barley, rye or their derivatives as sweeteners or thickeners.
Lunch is another tricky area for a gluten-free diet because sandwiches are the lunch of choice for many people. Going completely grain-free for lunch is one way to avoid gluten. Salads with chicken, fish or roast beef can be a filling and healthy gluten-free lunch—just remember to read the ingredients on your salad dressing to ensure it is gluten-free. Many bakers are also offering gluten-free breads, which can often be found in the natural foods section of your grocery store. Breads made with millet, quinoa or buckwheat flour are all safe to eat on a gluten-free diet. Use caution with processed meats, as some may include gluten-containing grains as filler, such as rusk in sausages or cheap burgers.
Dinner is an easy meal to manage on a gluten-free diet. Potatoes and rice, often staples at dinnertime, are perfectly safe to consume on a gluten-free diet, although caution should be used for prepackaged rice mixes, as they can sometimes contain gluten. A better choice is to prepare and season your rice dishes on your own using ingredients you know to be gluten-free. Be wary of prepared marinades and sauces since they may contain gluten. You can purchase gluten-free pastas in the natural foods section of many grocery stores, including pastas made with rice or quinoa.
Snack foods can be difficult to find on a gluten-free diet. Even items that seem as though they should not contain gluten, such as sweets, tortilla chips or crisps, can have hidden gluten in the seasonings used to flavour them. Always check the packaging for to see if your snack is labeled as gluten-free. Even if the ingredients listed seem safe to consume, the Gluten Intolerance Group cautions that foods prepared around wheat, malt or rye products can be contaminated with gluten. If the label doesn't specifically say gluten-free, check with the manufacturer or skip it in lieu of snacks you know are safe to consume on a gluten-free diet.
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