Following a gluten-free diet may be challenging, but with careful planning and smart shopping choices, it’s probably easier than you think. Grains that contain gluten such as wheat, oats, barley and rye are known to be some of the most difficult foods for the body to digest. Many people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, and other digestive problems notice a huge improvement in their symptoms after cutting these difficult foods out of their diets.
Try the following tips for gluten-free meal planning, shopping, and cooking:
- Plan a weekly menu with recipes that use whole foods. Whenever possible, use single ingredient foods, such as fruits, vegetables and eggs. Many processed foods contain gluten, so it’s best to stick with "real" foods.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where you’ll find many gluten-free items, including fresh produce, meat and seafood. Although most whole foods can be found in the outer ring of the store, don’t overlook the inner aisles for gluten-free items like rice and beans.
- Read labels carefully. You may not think a product contains gluten when it actually does.
- Prepare in advance. For easy weeknight meals, prepare ingredients when you get home from the store. Wash and cook a pot of beans, hard-boil some eggs to have on hand for a quick breakfast, or prepare a gluten-free grain meal made from rice, quinoa, or polenta. When it comes time to actually cook your meals, much of the prep work will have already been done.
- Make savvy substitutions. Have fun experimenting with a variety of gluten-free recipes. You may find that certain substitutions, like gluten-free rice pasta, can be just as tasty as the original.