Although some people can maintain their health consuming gluten, many people feel better once they remove it from their diets.
Gluten happens to be one of the most reactive foods. Its effects range from anemia to leaky gut syndrome. There are so many possible ways in which gluten can cause harm that removing it from the diet often times produces miraculous health benefits.
If you experience any of the following, then removing gluten may benefit you:
- digestive complaints (bloating, nausea, loose stools)
- multiple food allergies
- hair loss
- bleeding gums
- recurrent miscarriages
- weight loss / weight gain
- stunted growth in children
- muscle cramping
- peripheral neuropathy
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- restless leg syndrome
Where is gluten found?
Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. Even if you remove these grains from the diet, there are still many possible ways to still consume gluten. Enter: cross-contamination!
Cross-contamination can happen in many different places. First, certain foods like lentils are cross-rotated with wheat in the fields. So when you buy a bag of lentils you will often find wheat berries mixed in (you need to really look closely!). Watch our video on gluten cross-contamination in lentils to learn how to sort through and pick out the gluten grains. Oats, millet, and buckwheat also often contain gluten grains. You probably know already that you need to buy certified gluten-free oats, but you also need to buy certified gluten-free millet and certified gluten-free buckwheat groats otherwise you will likely be consuming gluten unknowingly and never feel fully well.
Cross-contamination can also happen during the processing of a food. When you grind brown rice flour for example, you need to know if wheat berries were also ground on that same equipment. If so, there will be a small amount of wheat flour in your brown rice flour and you will never feel completely well. It only takes a minute amount of gluten to elicit a reaction! All processed foods run the risk of gluten cross contamination, so working towards a whole foods diet will not only cut down on the chances of inadvertently consuming gluten, but will also tremendously benefit your health! Our Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook is a great guide to introduce you to whole foods and teach you about hidden sources of gluten (check out the guide in the appendix).
Cross-contamination happens in your kitchen and when eating out too! If you bake with wheat flour, inevitably flour dust will burst into the air during whisking and measuring, contaminating the counters and nearby cookware and eating utensils. If you have a sensitive family member it is best to create a gluten-free kitchen so that family member can fully heal.
When eating out, there are just too many places where cross-contamination can occur that many people find it best to avoid restaurants during the initial healing phase. Gluten can be found on counters, cutting boards, rolling pins, grills, kitchen equipment, and in the food itself.
What do I eat now?
The great news is that you can eat so many foods being gluten-free! In fact, if you are just making the transition, this can be a fun time to explore new foods, flavors, and cuisines.
Here is what you CAN eat:
- all fresh vegetables
- all fresh fruits
- meats, preferably from pasture raised animals
- eggs, preferably from pastured chickens
- dairy, preferably raw and from grass-fed animals
- gluten-free grains (teff, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, sorghum, corn)
- coconut products (coconut milk, butter, oil, flour, nectar)
- nuts and seeds (and their butters and flours)
- natural sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, stevia)
What can I cook and bake that is GF?
First let's start with bread. Bread is something that has nurtured us throughout the ages, so it would seem logical that this is the first food folks think about replacing on a gluten-free diet. But what about my bread? We've got you covered! Our second cookbook, Nourishing Meals, has some of the easiest, tastiest gluten-free bread recipes around! Our recipes are kneadable, don't contain any gums, use whole food ingredients, and don't become dry and crumble to pieces the next day! We even have some sourdough recipes in the book! To get you started, try our Farmhouse Seed Bread.
Besides bread, try our Raw Chocolate Pie and wow your friends! Make a super Healing Chicken Stock to help your intestines recover. Need gravy for Thanksgiving? Learn how to make Gluten-Free Gravy! Try something new! Our Peach Ginger Mint Green Smoothie and Creamy Summer Zucchini Soup are delicious additions to your weekly food prep routine.
You can also search the Recipe Index on this blog for many more gluten-free recipes. Cooking gluten-free doesn't need to be complicated. Chances are you already cook many gluten-free meals at home. Think roasted chicken, potatoes, and a salad. Or a bean and vegetable soup with rice. Many raw food recipes are also naturally gluten-free. Try a nut or seed pate wrapped in a collard leaf.
Take a deep breath, we've got you covered! You can do it!