gluten free diet

By Mary Frances Pickett


Grocery Shopping for Your Gluten Free Diet – Week One

May 28, 2009

This is the second post in a series on Starting the Gluten Free Diet. Click here for a list of the other posts in the series. To make sure that you get all of the posts in the series sign up for free email updates in the right sidebar.

For more help getting started on a gluten free diet, make sure to read my ebook, The Gluten Free Survival Guide. It’s packed full of practical strategies to help you keep your sanity as you go gluten free!

Making a Grocery List:
After reading the first post you should have a good idea of what you will be eating for each meal this first week. The next step is to make your grocery list.  If you’ve never done this before, start by grabbing a sheet of paper and listing categories that match the general layout of your grocery store. I usually use PRODUCE, FROZEN, DAIRY, MEAT, CANNED GOODS, DRY GOODS, and HOUSEHOLD.

Now, go through the list of your meals and write down each ingredient that you need to buy. If you’ve followed the instructions in What to Eat on a Gluten Free Diet, then there will be a lot of whole foods listed on your sheet and very few processed foods, if any.

Remember, on this first shopping trip the goal is to read as few labels as possible. If you will be using foods that you already own in this week’s menu, be sure to check to see if they are marked “GLUTEN FREE”. If they are not and they contain any processed products I would strongly recommend that you change your menu to not include these foods. Reading labels is the most depressing and tedious part of a gluten free diet and I’d love for you to be able to avoid that until you’ve had at least a week to adjust and do some reading.

If there are some essentials that you need to replace – like mayo, ketchup, etc., consider shopping at Walmart this week. Walmart’s store brand, Great Value, is very good about clearly  marking all of the gluten free products on the label.

Absolute No-Nos:
Wheat is so ubiquitous in the Standard American Diet that we often forget that we are eating it. Here are a few foods that you may not realize contain wheat.

  • all-purpose flour
  • self-rising flour
  • semolina (the flour used in most pasta)
  • couscous
  • most soy sauce
  • Campbell’s Cream of ______  Soup
  • cornbread mix
  • most cold cereals (barley malt flavoring)

At the Grocery Store:
The best tips that I can give you for the grocery store are to stick to the outside aisles and whole, unprocessed foods. Follow your grocery list and look forward to feeling better during the coming week. While you’re there ask the service desk if they have a list of gluten free foods that they stock. Also check to see if you they have a special location for gluten free foods, or if they shelve them near their gluten-filled counterparts. This knowledge will help you plan for next week’s shopping trip.

You may feel that my advice to only eat unprocessed foods and foods that are clearly marked “Gluten Free” is overly restrictive. But I really do want you to feel better quickly, and the easiest way to accomplish that is to get ALL of the gluten out of your diet. And it’s only for a week. By next week you’ll have learned more about identifying gluten in foods, what foods are naturally gluten free, and where to buy gluten free foods that your local grocery doesn’t stock.



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