Wouldn’t it be awesome if every time you are hungry you could just sit down and eat whatever you feel like eating?
And how about not having to worry thinking of the food options that make you sick?
All these sound great, but in reality, sometimes it is not exactly like that.
Dinner is my favorite meal of the day. I usually put more effort into whatever I will be cooking because night time is the moment for me to enjoy and eat.
Breakfast and lunch are normally a rush because I have to keep moving around to work, work out, and do things in general, but dinner is usually a more relaxing time.
But whatever meal I’m eating, I like eating what I like and what I know is going to make me feel healthy.
My husband is celiac, so I decided months ago that I would join him in his gluten-free eating lifestyle because it is a healthy path and it definitely makes easier both of our eating habits.
If you live with someone who is celiac, the best way to help him have a safe and healthy life is by not bringing into his stomach those undesirable proteins that can hurt their health.
And by that, I mean that if there is gluten in your kitchen (even though it’s sealed and stored in a cabinet), there is a risk of cross-contamination.
In this article, I will share with you everything you need to do to remove gluten from your meals so you can eat a safe gluten-free diet.
Gluten is celiacs’ worst enemy. I’m not joking.
If you ask any celiacs: “who do you hate the most in this world?” they will answer (SHOUTING): GLUTEN!
And gluten is not only celiacs’ enemy, but many people with gluten intolerance also hate it.
But let’s get a little more theoretical.
Gluten comes from the Latin word "glue".
It is a specific protein that can be found in different types of grains like wheat, rye, barley, and triticale.
In wheat, gluten is a combination of the gliadins and glutenins proteins, and it’s commonly found in:
In barley, gluten is a combination of proteins called hordeins commonly found in:
In rye (which is lower in gluten than wheat), the gluten proteins are called avenins and are commonly found in:
This protein called gluten acts as a glue that holds food together, maintaining its shape. It also gives texture to the food and stabilizes products for longer shelf life.
Have you ever noticed when you eat bread that it has a sticky and elastic property? Well, that glue-consistency that makes the bread chewy comes from the gluten protein.
Gluten is not a dangerous or harmful substance per se. Most people tolerate it really well.
The thing is that unfortunately, celiacs’ bodies mistakenly recognize gluten as a foreign substance and attack it. And this is why when someone with celiac disease eats gluten, they end up experiencing uncomfortable and painful symptoms like:
This may sound easy to do.
If someone asks you: “Hey, how should I remove gluten from all my meals?”
You would reply: “Easy peasy! Just remove it, duhhh!”
Yeah, it sounds like a silly question, but the truth is that the answer is more complicated than how it looks like.
Removing gluten from your diet can be hard but not impossible.
It can be annoying but satisfactory.
So let’s learn some useful tips that will help you eat a gluten-free diet 100% free from gluten.
Treating gluten as your enemy is a “defense mechanism” attitude that celiacs (and people with gluten sensitivity) should adopt for their own safety.
Even a tiny portion of gluten transferred from one food to your stomach can hurt your health and can make you feel sick.
Sometimes you won’t be able to even see those gluten proteins, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. So be careful, and again, treat gluten as your enemy.
If gluten represents a threat to your health, what should you do?
Avoid it, fight it, cut it off your eating lifestyle and meals.
By removing gluten from your diet, you’ll be avoiding symptoms like:
So don’t allow gluten in any of its forms enter your stomach.
Keep in mind that enemies are not well received in your kitchen.
Gluten likes to play hide and seek so be careful and try to find its secrets spots.
Your enemy doesn’t only hide in food. Medicines, makeup, shampoos, toothpaste, drinks, hair spray, soaps, facial cleansers, lotions, play-dough, and herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements, are some of the products that can also contain gluten.
Also watch out for food that is “fried”, “coated”, “breaded”, “crispy”, or “crusted”.
Those are hidden forms of gluten because wheat flour is usually the main ingredient for the preparation
Something else to consider is that gluten can be also hidden in Asian-style foods because they use soy sauce as one of their primary ingredients for their recipes, especially Chinese and Japanese food.
In makeup, watch out for the scientific names of gluten proteins:
So to remove gluten from your meals, also exclude any other product that contains hidden forms of gluten.
Making a grocery list with all the food and ingredients you need to buy at the store for preparing your meals is very helpful when sticking to a gluten-free diet.
When planning your meals, exclude those ingredients that are made with wheat, and incorporate to your menu food options that are naturally gluten-free.
These ingredients are healthy options for your meals, and you won’t have to worry about them being processed in a facility where they also process wheat.
Here’s a list of naturally gluten-free food that you should incorporate into your diet:
There are other food that despite not being naturally gluten-free, after being processed, are still safe for celiacs. Those food are:
Most celiacs don’t know that cross-contamination can happen when buying a food product they think it is gluten-free (but it really isn’t).
When going food shopping you must read labels properly and carefully.
Some food products state on their labels “may contain traces of wheat”, “made in the same facility as wheat-containing foods" or "made on shared equipment with wheat-containing foods".
Go after the food products that were not processed in the same facilities that process wheat.
If you are celiac you may have already tried a lot of different gluten-free brands looking for the safest ones.
There are many safe gluten-free food like nuts, snacks, pasta, pizzas, mayonnaise, and cheese, but you may have not found yet its safe gluten-free version.
Being celiac, or being with someone who is celiac, is all about reading, researching and trying brands until you find the best ones for your diet.
Stick to the brands that are good for your stomach and/or have been tested and/or recommended by other celiacs or trustworthy companies.
For a safe gluten-free living is important for you to be familiar with the brands that are good on your stomach.
If you have your top brands, keep including them in your diet, and exclude the brands you know are not good for you.
In our daily gluten-free lifestyle, my husband and I include our favorite brands that have been super safe for him.
Matt’s gluten intolerance is surprisingly high, so when we buy food products that are commercialized as gluten-free, we make sure they are the best quality, and of course, if they are very good, they end up being part of our family.
Against the Grain, Bell & Evans, Birch Benders, Aleia’s, Ancient Harvest, Betty Lou’s, Primal Kitchen, Litehouse, Sky Valley Foods, Three Bakers, Pamela's, Applegate, Mission, Jone's Dairy Farm, and Enjoy Life Foods are some of those brands that have been amazingly good in my husband’s stomach.
Every time he eats any product from any of those brands, he always feels good and experiments no painful symptoms.
I am not celiac but I have chosen to eat all of those brands as part of my decision of eating (and living) gluten-free.
We never stop eating them, they are part of our eating lifestyle.
Have second thoughts before eating out.
If you start analyzing every time you feel sick after eating, you will notice that most of the time that happens when you eat a restaurant.
You should see restaurants as a dark cave where your enemy hides, in other words: a place where gluten camouflages.
I know once in a while we feel lazy and we don’t feel like cooking and all we think about is going out and eating at a restaurant. But when this happens, keep in mind that the risk of cross-contamination at restaurants is very high.
The best way for you to know if what you are about to eat has gluten or not, is by cooking your own meals, this way you will know if they are safe.
When you go to restaurants or to a friends’ house to eat homemade food, the risk of cross-contamination can be very high.
In one kitchen a chef prepares many different meals per minute. Most of them are more likely to contain wheat.
One knife cuts bread, and that same knife cuts your food.
Waiters come and go from the kitchen to the tables with different plates on their hands until they serve yours, and the probabilities of cross-contamination happening are really high.
Most restaurants sell in their menus gluten-free dishes (and that can be true), but the problem is that they cook those dishes with kitchen utensils that had previous contact with gluten, and then they use them for your food.
A tiny amount of gluten transferred from a piece of bread to your food is more than enough to make you sick.
But if you decide to eat at a restaurant and you don’t want to change your mind, let the waiter and cook know that you are celiac and that your health can be compromised by a simple mistake.
Last Sunday for St. Patrick’s day I went to a very nice restaurant with my husband and his family
Our waitress’ attitude when my husband communicated he was celiac was unbelievable.
She was lost, unaware, and seemed to not care at all when my husband said to her he was celiac and needed gluten-free options.
When my husband was ordering his food and asked some simple questions about the menu like “what options are gluten-free?”, “does this drink contain gluten?”, all of her answers were “I don’t know”. But that was not the worst part, she didn’t even show any interest in actually going to the kitchen and asking the chef.
So anyway, if you decide to eat at a restaurant, let the waiters and cooks know:
Don’t trust a restaurant just because they have a gluten-free menu. Sometimes they will tell you they do have options safe for celiacs but they might be cross-contaminated.
Hopefully, while you read each of these tips, you are nodding your head.
The best way for you to feel safe is for you to have a 100% gluten-free kitchen.
When you have wheat-based ingredients in your kitchen like flour, the risk of cross-contamination can be high because crumbles may be all over the countertop or near your plates and you won’t even realize it.
If you have the possibility to not share your kitchen with someone who eats gluten, that will be better.
Remove gluten from your fridge, tupperwares, pantry, and pots.
A very important step you should follow to remove gluten from your meals is to wash your hands thoroughly before manipulating food. Sometimes you don’t even realize that a very small amount of gluten (a crumb) can make you feel sick. So if by accident you touched a crumb that contains gluten, and then you manipulate your gluten-free food, it will no longer be free from gluten. Use soap for your hands and dry them with a clean towel.
If you share a kitchen with someone who cooks gluten-containing food, cook your gluten-free meals first. This way the other person won’t leave the kitchen dirty with crumbs before you use it. And before cooking, always clean everything thoroughly first.
When you have people coming over to your house and they are bringing snacks, convince them to contribute with gluten-free food. If that is a difficult request and they end up bringing wheat-based food, place those appetizers on plastic trays, and ask them to use plastic plates when eating. This way you won’t have to worry about the crumbs being on your china. You will simply throw out the plastic plates when the party's over.
Clean thoroughly any surfaces you are going to use to cook your meals. Sometimes we place our food on the countertop instead of using a plate or tray, and if that countertop has crumbs, you know what’s going to happen next, right? For avoiding any possible presence of gluten in your kitchen, clean the surfaces before cooking. You don’t know if someone ate something that contained gluten and left the crumbles over there.
If you are eating a gluten-free diet, or if you are recently diagnosed with celiac disease, in order to remove gluten from your meals, buy brand new kitchen utensils and appliances. Especially a toaster because the crumbs tend to stick. New pots, new silverware, anything will be helpful to get rid of your enemy in the kitchen.
If you want to eat safe meals and remove gluten from them, then do not share your kitchen utensils, pots, silverware, appliances, chopping boards or anything that is in the kitchen, with people who cook with gluten. Have your own knife for spreading butter or different creams on your food.
Every little thing you do against gluten counts.
Don’t think that these are random tips I found online and put together and shared them with you.
These are actually actions that I have taken with my husband to maintain our gluten-free lifestyle as healthy and as safe as possible.
Use stainless steel cookware because nonstick pans can absorb gluten (I bet you didn’t know that).
Use a brand new special non-porous cutting board because crumbs tend to stick to the ones that have porous. Even if you wash them thoroughly, the crumbs can still be in the porous.
It’s important when avoiding cross-contamination in your kitchen to buy new dishwashing supplies such as sponges, scrubs and gloves. Do not use them on anything that has touched gluten. This way your plates won’t be washed by sponges full of gluten crumbs.
Keep one sponge or scrubber for your pots, pans, and utensils just for washing your dishes. Don’t use them to wash other people’s plates if they previously had gluten-based food on. Be as strict as you can!
Same way moms sterilize babies’ bottles and pacifiers to remove any possible germs, celiacs should do the same with their kitchen utensils to remove gluten.
The most effective way to cleaning and washing your pots, plates and silverware to use hot water.
If you clean this way, you will be removing gluten in a more effective way.
“Joey doesn’t share food!” If you are a Friends’ fan like me, you have heard that quote before. Joey Tribbiani couldn’t have said it (screamed) better. Dear celiac friend: don’t share your food. You won’t believe that even through your lips you can get cross-contamination, so be a little selfish and do not share with anyone else your food. By giving a sample of your food to someone who previously ate gluten, and then putting that same fork or spoon in your mouth, you will be sending gluten to your stomach. So keep your gluten-free food for yourself and also don’t let anyone share with you their food.
Many recipes are too long and require many ingredients. And some of those ingredients are not celiac safe.
Just because you need to eat gluten-free doesn’t mean you can’t eat delicious anymore. If you find a recipe of a tasty meal that you would like to make, but it is not gluten-free, don’t worry, there is a way for you to turn it into a celiac proof recipe!
You just need to substitute the ingredients that are wheat based, for those who are not.
Just follow these tips:
So we went through all the tips you should apply to eat a gluten-free diet and remove gluten from your meals.
We learned that every little action you take against gluten counts and can actually have a good impact on your health.
You’d probably agree that this is a pretty useful list, or step-by-step guide, or however you want to call it, to remove that undesirable enemy from your life.
Let’s help each other and let’s fight gluten together!
Mariana graduated from Communications & Journalism in Caracas, Venezuela, and has over 10 years of experience as a writer. She has worked on Digital Marketing, and for over 10 prestigious Cable Television Channels aired in Latin America. Matt graduated from Cornell University in New York. He started his own company in 2010, and has been running it by himself since then. Matt is an expert in Marketing, Sales, and creating 6-Figure Funnels for online businesses.
Over the past year we decided to start a company together and created "Vookies", that later expanded and became "Be Breader". We have been helping celiacs around the world to optimize and improve their health by incorporating safe and delicious meals into their daily menus.