5 Healthy Tips for Navigating a Gluten-Free Diet

Most diets are difficult to follow. You’re bound to feel frustrated when your carbs craving gets out of control. Or, your gluten-free diet becomes so boring you can’t stand the thought of yet another meal without a beer to lighten things up when barbecuing with your buddies! If you’ve been told to watch your gluten intake because of coeliac disease, you may be wondering how to stay on track while navigating such a strict diet.

Luckily, there’s a light at the end of any tunnel since there are such things as gluten free beer for those weekend social-dos with friends and family. But, what else can you do to stay on the healthy side when following a gluten-free diet? Read on to find out!

5 Healthy Tips for Navigating a Gluten-Free Diet

1. It Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

It’s very easy to get caught in the dieter’s trap of believing you can only eat the boring stuff found in supermarkets’ diet aisles. While you shouldn’t be diving into pastries, breads and chips, you can add a whole lot of healthy but yummy ingredients to your gluten-free meals:

  • For starters, when preparing a meal, consider adding herbs and spices and other seasonings that don’t contain gluten products.
  • Make sure your plate is full colour, using different vegetables such as butternut, spinach and tomatoes.
  • Add raw nuts and seeds to salads.
  • Look out for exotic fruits at your local supermarket or local farmer’s market.

2. Gluten-Free Substitutes Aren’t Always Healthy

It’s tempting to add gluten-free substitutes for pastries, pizzas and biscuits to your shopping trolley. But, these products are often high in sugar and fats, making them as unhealthy as their gluten-loaded cousins! You could end up putting on more weight and increase your risk of high blood sugar levels.

Follow the 80/20 diet rule and avoid all gluten-free substitutes during the week while treating yourself once or twice over the weekend. This way, you’re limiting your intake of fats and sugar while satisfying your need for some junk food.

3. Some Alcoholic Drinks Are Allowed

If you enjoy having a glass of wine with your meal, your heart might sink when you hear you have to go on a gluten-free diet! However, the good news is that there are some alcoholic beverages allowed for people suffering from coeliac disease, including wine. Other safe alcoholic drinks now available include:

  • Sparkling wines
  • Bourbon
  • Tequila
  • Spirits
  • Cider
  • Port
  • Sherry

Avoid alcoholic beverages that include flavourings and other ingredients which could include gluten. Beer is an absolute no-no on gluten-free diets. But, craft breweries are tapping into the market, making gluten-free beer for people just like you! So, do some exploration and find out if there’s a brewery offering this type of beer in your area.

4. Always Read the Labels

Following a gluten-free diet does mean reading labels of everything that isn’t in the fresh foods’ supermarket section! While this may seem tiresome, it does mean you avoid buying food items that seem to be gluten-free but they’re not. Beware of the following foods that contain hidden ingredients including gluten:

  • Sauces and gravies
  • Soy sauce
  • Salad dressings
  • Licorice

The more you read the labels on food packaging, the faster you’ll become at identifying which items shouldn’t be put into your grocery trolley. Remember the golden rule when buying for a gluten-free diet – meat of all kinds, vegetables and fruit, seeds and nuts, rice and potatoes are safe. And, they’re normally located on the outer shelves or fridges of the store. Once you start heading into the inner aisle, you’re more likely to find gluten-filled products.

5. Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a gluten-free diet can lead to deficiencies if you don’t follow a balanced plan. This means you need to get all your nutrients, vitamins and minerals from a variety of fresh vegetables and other natural food products. Your gluten-free diet should include the following:

  • Legumes and quinoa
  • Sorghum
  • Arrowroot
  • Whole grains such as millet and buckwheat which are gluten-free
  • Protein

Eating a balanced gluten-free diet means you’ll get the necessary amino acids, iron and Vitamin B essential for a healthy body.

Other Quick Healthy Tips

Look out for the following pitfalls that could make you lose your way when navigating a gluten-free diet plan:

  • Wheat-free labels don’t mean the product is gluten-free.
  • Take a dish to be shared among friends when eating at someone’s house, so you aren’t forced to go hungry if the host hasn’t provided for your specific dietary requirement.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Look for oats labelled as gluten-free which indicates the product hasn’t been cross-contaminated with wheat or rye during production.
  • Speak to your pharmacist before taking any medications as some do contain gluten.
  • Get support from healthcare experts who understand what you’re going through.

Final Thoughts

A gluten-free diet doesn’t mean it’s the end of the food-world for you! It’s about exploring all the options available to you and learning to be creative with your recipes. And, you can still socialise with your buddies while enjoying your gluten-free craft beer or wine. All you have to do is find a brewery who cares about drinkers with gluten sensitivity! And we think you’ll be surprised at what you find on today’s market.

Read More: 6 Things to Keep in Mind Before Having Your First Beer

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