The key to following any kind of specialized diet is to be organized. How are you going to manage menu planning, family functions and dining out without a bit of planning? The key to avoiding foods that contain gluten is a well researched and well organized list of gluten free food.
Go High Tech
The easiest way to build your list is electronically. Use Word, Excel or a similar program to start your list. Once you’ve got all the foods you can think of listed, print it out and make notes on it for the week. As you discover more gluten free food, add to the list and update the electronic copy. You may even be able to load the electronic file onto your phone for easy access when you’re dining out or when you’re with friends.
Start Big, then Get Specific
When you’re just beginning to avoid foods with gluten, it’s a good idea to include everything on your list. You can even create two lists if you prefer. The first would be one that is a naturally gluten free foods list that includes items like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, oils, meats and dairy products. The second list would be a list of foods that are specially formulated to replace foods containing gluten. It would likely include categories like:
- Gluten free baking mixes – As you try various gluten free mix brands, like Gluten Free Pantry or other similar brands, add them to your list. Cookie mixes, pancake and waffle mixes, bread mixes and all-purpose mixes should be a staple.
- Gluten free flours – Tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, amaranth flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, and cornmeal would be likely candidates for this section of the list.
- Gluten free alcohol – Brands and varieties of your favorite hard liquors and beers.
- Hidden ingredients to avoid – This is important to add to your list. As you discover ingredients that are not gluten free, it’s important to make a note of it. Items like ‘starch’ or ‘malt’ are likely to contain gluten yet do not directly refer to wheat, barley or rye.
As you become more experienced you’ll find that you need the first list of naturally gluten free foods less and less, and that you rely on your gluten substitute list more and more. As you learn more you can make either or both lists as specific as you need.
You may find that having prepared a list of gluten free foods to be helpful in a variety of circumstances: grocery shopping, dining out, traveling, assisting others you meet who are new to gluten free living, educating family members who wish to cook for you. These are just a few examples of how having a prepared list could come in handy. Challenge yourself to expand your lists on a weekly basis. As you explore new foods you can have fun and enjoy a greater variety in your diet.