Gluten-Free Diet: Guide for Beginners

Find out why people go gluten-free, learn to recognize foods with gluten, and know what foods you can eat on a gluten-free diet.

There are 3.1 million people in the U.S. who follow a gluten-free diet.

Although not all of them have a gluten sensitivity, there are some people that do and they have to reduce or eliminate their gluten consumption.

gluten free pizza for gluten free diet

If you are interested in beginning a gluten-free diet (gluten intolerance or not) but are not exactly sure how and/or where to start – rest assured you are not the only one in this situation.

Today, we are going to share with you why people go gluten-free, learning to recognize foods with gluten, and what foods you can eat on your gluten-free diet.

4 Reasons to go Gluten-Free

There are four reasons why people decide to go gluten-free.

Reason #1: People choose a gluten-free diet because they have symptoms of gluten sensitivities and/or gluten intolerance.

If you have an adverse reaction to gluten, it is important for you to follow a gluten-free diet so you can reduce or eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of your allergy. Individuals with gluten intolerance may have various symptoms, such as an upset stomach, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and headaches, according to Healthline.

Reason #2: Another reason you are going to gluten-free is if you have celiac disease.

Celiac Disease is when your body has an autoimmune response to gluten, meaning that your own cells start attacking themselves due to gluten. This is gluten intolerance in its most severe form. It only affects 1% of the American population. However, consuming gluten could damage your small intestine if you have celiac disease. You can experience all of the same symptoms as someone who has a gluten sensitivity/allergy.

Reason #3: If you have an autoimmune disorder such as arthritis or thyroid disease it would be a good idea for you to cut out gluten from your diet.

People generally tend to feel better when they eliminate gluten if they have those disorders.

Reason #4: Lastly, some people go gluten-free because they are paranoid and love to follow a health trend.

These people haven’t been properly diagnosed by a medical professional for a firm celiac disease diagnosis, according to Forbes.

Learn to Recognize Foods With Gluten

When you begin a gluten-free diet you need to recognize foods with gluten.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, a gluten-free diet needs to avoid foods that contain any of these grains:

  • Wheat: Avoid the following wheat types: farro, bulgur, durum, couscous, einkorn, graham, matzo meal, semolina, kamut, and spelt.
  • Barley: You will see it be called barley, malt, or barley malt. It is not mandatory for manufacturers to list barley on their ingredient list and is sometimes listed on labels as simply “flavoring” so be mindful of that.
  • Rye: A grain that is typically found in sandwich bread. It’s common for people in Eastern European and German countries to use this rye flour in their loaves of bread.
  • Triticale: A grain that is created from crossbreeding rye with wheat. It can typically be found in bread, brewing, distilling, and cereal manufacturing.
  • Oats: Avoid eating regular oats because they are sometimes grown next to wheat, barley, and rye.

Now that we have gotten what you shouldn’t out of the way – you must be thinking what can I eat then?  We will cover that next.

What to Eat on A Gluten-Free Diet

Don’t worry there are plenty of options of gluten-free foods out there, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

The Celiac Disease Foundation and the Gluten-Free Magazine recommend the following foods for your gluten-free diet:

  • Fruits, vegetable, legumes, beans, nuts, fish, and poultry. You will get the most bang for your buck with those items because you can get creative and have countless dishes.
  • Nut flours, flax seeds, chia seeds, buckwheat, millet, tapioca, and potatoes are your grains and starchy foods.
  • Corn in all forms including grits, cornmeal, and corn flour.
  • Plain rice such as brown, wild, and basmati.
  • Milk, butter, margarine, real cheese, plain yogurts (with no flavoring) are your dairy products.
  • Vegetable oils and distilled vinegar can be used to saute your meats.
  • Distilled alcoholic beverages are okay to have since their distillation process removes the gluten.
  • Vanilla and vanilla extract are good for adding flavor to baking.
  • Spices in their pure form can be used to add extra flavor to your cooking.

You can always look for foods with the “Gluten-Free” label at the grocery store.

You can have some minimally processed foods paired with the food mentioned above.

Some words of caution when you are shopping. Make sure to read your labels.

Avoid anything that says “wheat-free” because this is not gluten-free. And check “gluten-free” items because they aren’t always 100% gluten-free either. Checking food labels will help you avoid any cross-contamination.

Closing Remarks

Beginning a gluten-free diet is simple once you know what to look for and what you can eat.

Think of this as a lifestyle change rather than a diet.

It’s important for you to have a why – “Why this new lifestyle change?”

Having a meaningful why will help you stick to your new way of life.


Ysabel Montemayor, RD
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