A beginner’s guide to going gluten-free

Going gluten-free doesn't have to be complicated. Picture: Pexels/Polina Kovaleva

Going gluten-free doesn't have to be complicated. Picture: Pexels/Polina Kovaleva

Published Jun 5, 2024


Whether you discovered you have gluten sensitivity or were diagnosed with celiac disease, learning how to go gluten-free can feel like a lot to learn in just a short amount of time.

But we have good news – these top five tips will help you adjust quickly, avoid common mistakes and connect with others who are gluten-free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is essentially the glue that holds food together and helps it maintain its shape. It makes bread chewy and is found in foods like pasta, pizza, beer and soy sauce.

Going gluten-free doesn't have to be complicated. Picture: Pexels/Reisefreiheit

Plan ahead

A gluten-free diet takes work and some planning, especially in the beginning as you are getting used to a new way of eating. Join a local gluten-free support group or find online support.

These groups help to share valuable info that can make your life easier and better, like where to go to get the best gluten-free pasta dish.

If going gluten-free is a medical necessity, consult a dietitian.

Learn what foods to include or avoid

While the basis of a gluten-free diet is avoiding certain foods, you should also learn what foods are safe to eat.

There are many naturally gluten-free foods you can still enjoy that happen to be delicious and healthy.

Focus on shopping the perimeter of your grocery store: vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry, meats and dairy products are good places to start.

Going gluten-free doesn't have to be complicated. Picture: Pexels/Polina Kovaleva

Read food labels

Make sure the label says certified gluten-free. There are many times when a product is naturally gluten-free but made in a facility where cross-contamination with gluten can occur.

Take the diet seriously

If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the gluten-free diet is more than just a choice – it is a medical necessity. There is no cure for these conditions and eliminating gluten from your diet is the only treatment.

You need to take the gluten-free diet seriously; do not cut corners or allow yourself a “cheat” day where you eat gluten-containing foods. If you have celiac disease, even the tiniest amount of gluten could cause severe intestinal damage.

Look out for cross-contact (also called cross-contamination)

Cross-contact with gluten occurs when a gluten-free food is prepared on the same surface or with the same utensils as foods containing gluten.

Common areas of cross-contact in your home would be peanut butter and mayonnaise jars where the utensils are double-dipped after spreading on wheat (gluten) bread and gluten-free bread, cutting boards and food preparation surfaces, and eating and serving utensils.