Gluten Free for the Win, Tips and Tricks for Beginners
How to start a gluten-free diet - for starters, set small, attainable goals. For example, don’t look at this like you have to ‘give up’ gluten or certain foods you love for the next 100 years. Rather, look at the next 30 days. Click To Tweet

So you’ve finally caved and decided to go gluten free. Whether its due to illness, fitness goals, or just wanting to try something new, you’ve arrived at the conclusion that gluten free is the next step for you. Let me start by saying, congratulations and I’m excited for you!

I understand that you may not share in my enthusiasm… yet. But I can assure you that you will. Why? Well, because I’ve been eating gluten free for over 4 years now and I’ve
experienced and witnessed so many lives being positively changed, simply by following some simple guidelines.

How to Start a Gluten Free Diet

For starters, I would advise you to set small, attainable goals. For example, don’t look at this like you have to ‘give up’ gluten or certain foods you love for the next 100 years. Rather, look at the next 30 days. Tell yourself you will give this thing a whirl for at least that amount of time.

The trick is convincing yourself to start, and then promising yourself you will fully commit to 30 days. Because, to be completely honest, once you see and feel the results after the first 30 days of strict, clean eating – you’ll be a lot less likely to want to go back to your old ways.

Now, that’s not to say it won’t be tough. I found the first two weeks were the most brutal. This is a time where you body is still ridding itself of the gluten and toxins and there will likely be withdrawal symptoms. These can range from nausea, to dizziness, and even joint pain.

On top of the physical symptoms, there may also be psychological ones such as irritability (let’s be honest, this is probably a given), sleeplessness, and heightened nerves. This just goes to show the power that foods actually have on your body and brain, even if you never realised they did. With all this being said, I can assure you, that if you push through those first two weeks, things will get drastically easier for you.

Clean Out That Fridge!

Next up is clearing out that filthy fridge! Okay, maybe yours isn’t necessarily filthy, but there surely are some filthy, unhealthy foods lurking in it and trying to sabotage your life. Before you do anything else, get rid of them. Go through every item in your refrigerator and toss anything that isn’t good for you (and obviously anything that isn’t gluten free).

This should include foods that are processed, high in sugar, or have ingredients listed that you can’t pronounce. Another good rule of thumb is if it can’t be bought around the perimeter of your grocery store (think fresh produce, seafood & meats, dairy) then it probably shouldn’t be in there.

Now comes the fun part – once you’ve cleared out that refrigerator, you’ll need to restock! Just be sure you have done your homework before you head to the grocery store, as it’s easy to be overwhelmed once you are there (so many options, so many confusing labels).

Gluten Free or Clean Diet

First, you’ll need to know whether you are doing a strictly clean diet (like Paleo or Whole30), or just simply a gluten free diet (meaning if it doesn’t contain gluten, it’s still on the table). This makes the biggest difference. Eating a clean diet means no processed foods, refined foods, or foods full of sugar and trans fat.

To simplify, no grains, dairy, starches, sugars, legumes, or alcohol. This would sound awful, except for the fact that you are actually left with the most delicious and nutritious foods out there. This includes lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. You can believe me when I say that you can make so many amazing dishes with these simple, healthy ingredients. A quick ‘Paleo’ Pinterest search will prove help this.

Now, if you plan on doing just gluten free only (or at least to start), you may have a few more more options to choose from, as you can eat legumes (beans, lentils, and peanuts), dairy, and
many naturally gluten free grains (rice, corn, soy, potato, quinoa, millet, etc.). Just remember that while many packages have the gluten free or ‘GF’ symbol, they aren’t all necessarily
‘healthy’ for you. They may be better than the alternative, but do keep in mind that eating as much minimally processed food is still the best thing you can do for your body.

Alcohol

As far as alcohol goes, my recommendation is to put down the bottle for the first 30 days. This is to again, rid yourself of processed food and toxins. You don’t want to ruin or slow down your progress simply because you wanted to throwback five margaritas and complain about your boss at Friday happy hour (I know, that does sound pretty enticing though). If you do choose to have alcohol, make sure you go with distilled liquors as the distillation process removes *most* gluten in the alcohol.

The best suggestions are less toxic alcohols like vodka, gin, and tequila. And most importantly, lay off the mixers- high sugar juices, tonic waters, and mixes. These are almost all either high in sugar and/or full of gluten. Instead, opt for soda water with freshly squeezed lime, lemons, or oranges. Your body and your hangover (or lack thereof) will thank you.

Conclusion

In summary, the best advice I can give is to do your research. There are literally thousands of books and websites devoted to gluten free (or paleo, Whole30, etc.) lifestyles. Start by learning the basics and taking in the suggestions. Once you feel fairly knowledgeable on the topic, you can begin the grocery shopping and experimenting with new recipes.

This is something that most people grow to love. Feel free to join clean eating Pinterest boards and newsletters. Just dive in. And remember, when the going gets tough (and you want to devour all the pasta, chips, and brownies that you possibly can) there is a reason you’re doing this and I can assure you that reason is more important in the long term than the 10 minutes of satisfaction you’ll get by eating that garbage.

Happy (gluten free) eating!

Related Tags: Gluten Free RecipesCoeliac Travel

What is gluten intolerance or sensitivity
Unlike Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity/intolerance does not yet have any diagnostic medical testing. Gluten Sensitivity or intolerance is a condition that causes an individual to react after consuming gluten. Click To Tweet

What is Gluten?

Gluten is part of the tough, elastic protein found in wheat, oats, rye, spelt, barley and many other grains. Gluten binds the dough in baking and prevents crumbling – don’t let this fool you, gluten free bread is getting better year-by-year! Despite just about 90% of the good stuff on this earth containing gluten, beer, croissants, the world is becoming more educated around the understanding of gluten sensitivity/intolerance.

Unlike celiac disease, gluten sensitivity/intolerance does not yet have any diagnostic medical testing. Gluten Sensitivity or gluten intolerance is a condition that causes an individual to react (in any forms – trust me) after consuming gluten. This term is used to describe those who are unable to tolerate gluten and experience very similar symptoms to those of celiac disease, yet lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage. Gluten sensitivity should only be diagnosed after first ruling out wheat allergies, celiac disease and gluten ataxia (autoimmune condition where antibodies attack the cerebellum).

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

Many friends and family members have been tested for Celiac Disease to find out they have gluten sensitivity/intolerance. There are more than 200 symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity/intolerance including:

  • Feeling sluggish, lethargy, poor concentration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swollen body parts and joints
  • Joint pain and/or blood in stool
  • Migraine or headaches
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Irritable bowl syndrome (IBS)

These symptoms are also associated with celiac disease; this is why it is so important to get the correct diagnosis. Cutting out gluten may seem like a difficult and limited task. Fortunately, there are so many healthy and delicious new products on the market and the world becoming educated that being gluten free is easier than you think!

Gluten sensitivity is clinically recognised as less severe than celiac disease. It cannot test positive for celiac disease on blood tests nor do individuals have the same type of intestinal damage or inflammation, though some may experience minimal intestinal damage. Gluten sensitivity is a bona fide condition, distinct from celiac disease but with its own intestinal response to gluten.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

While eating gluten is the most common cause of persistent symptoms, a dual diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is also very common. IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine causing it to be abnormal while there is no physical disease present. Symptoms of IBS include constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pains, and fatigue and mood alterations.

FODMAP Diet

Researchers have found an overlap in a low-FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet. This diet was developed to control gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS, poorly absorbed in the small intestine that proceeds to the large intestine and fermented by bacteria.

Some evidence indicates that following the FODMAP diet can provide relief to approximately 75% of individuals experiencing IBS-like symptoms. This diet is maintained for a period of two to six weeks followed by the reintroduction of some foods to determine the most problematic FODMAP sources for the individual.

Always reach out to your practitioner and explore the options for treatment available. I found recording my daily intake most beneficial so I can pin point exactly what foods my body (despite my mind enjoying) does not tolerate. Google is also amazing for finding gluten free tips and restaurants but look no further than articles posted on this blog on just how easy travelling being gluten free is.

Related Tag: Gluten Free Blog

Best Gluten Free Resources 2017
Gluten Free Travellers has compiled a list of our favourite resources and blogs to help you have as much information as possible to make living with Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance as easy as possible. Click To Tweet

Here at Gluten Free Travellers we want your gluten-free life and travel to be as stress free as possible!

We have compiled a list of our favourite resources and blogs to help you have as much information as possible to make living with Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance as easy as possible.

Useful Links for Coeliac Disease & Gluten Intolerance:

Coeliac Australia

 

Coeliac UK

 

Celiac Disease Foundation (USA)

 

Gluten Free Travellers
Our gluten free blog offering tips and recommendations for travelling with Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.

The Gluten-free Message Board
An independent discussion forum for people with coeliac disease.

Gluten-free Cooking for Kids
A great resource for parents looking for recipes, tips and forums to discuss the gluten-free diet

Gluten-free Help
An independent and informative site promoting awareness and support for people suffering with coeliac disease

Boots WebMD
For news on coeliac disease and other digestive disorders, visit Boots WebMD.

Channel 4 Food – Gluten-free recipes
A great selection of gluten-free recipes sourced from a variety of books, websites and chefs and brought to you by Channel 4 Food.

Gluten Free Blogs:

Gluten Free Goddess

Gluten Free Girl

Gluten Free Mommy

A Gluten-Free Day

Celiac Chicks

No Gluten, No Problem

Delightfully Gluten Free

The Gluten Free Lifesaver

Gluten Free Diva

Gluten Free Fun

Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Pretty Little Celiac

Gluten Free Easily

Elana’s Pantry

Free From Home

The Book of Yum

A Baking Life

Simply Gluten Free

The Spunky Coconut

YumUniverse

Poor and Gluten Free

Gluten Free For Good

Art of Gluten Free Baking

Gluten Free Doctor

 

For Related Conditions:

NHS Choices
NHS Choices has thousands of pages of content about related health and wellbeing issues which may be helpful to those with coeliac disease. There are also videos, blogs and information about current clinical trials and symptoms specific to coeliac disease.

Anaphylaxis Campaign
The Anaphylaxis Campaign is the only UK charity to exclusively meet the needs of the growing numbers of people at risk from severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) by providing information and support relating to foods and other triggers such as latex, drugs and insect stings.

Core
The working name of the Digestive Disorders Foundation which fights digestive disease.

Diabetes UK
Diabetes UK is the leading charity working for people with diabetes. We fund research, campaign and help people to live with the condition.

DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating)
DAFNE provides education and support to people with Type 1 diabetes. We provide people with the skills necessary to estimate the carbohydrate in each meal and to inject the right dose of insulin

National Osteoporosis Society
The NOS offers support to people with osteoporosis, their families and carers through a range of information booklets, a national telephone helpline and a network of regional support groups.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK
Crohn’s and Colitis UK aims to improve life for everyone affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) – the main forms being Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Multiple Sclerosis Society
The MS Society is the UK’s largest charity for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – about 85,000 people in the UK.

The IBS Network
The IBS Network – the national charity for irritable bowel syndrome.

Gut Week
An annual campaign on digestive health.

 

 

Do you have a favourite gluten-free resource or blog? Tell us in the comments so we can add it to the list!

What exactly is Coeliac or Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an allergic reaction to gluten (protein found in barley, rye and wheat) that causes an immune response, attacking the individual's small intestine. Click To Tweet

What is Coeliac Disease?

Celiac disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide with only 20% of people becoming diagnosed. It is a genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming gluten, leading to the damage in the small intestine. An allergic reaction to gluten (protein found in barley, rye and wheat) is an immune response attacking the individuals small intestine – ouch!

This attack leads to damage of the villi, tiny finger-life structures that project inwards from the lining of the small intestine allowing for rapid absorption of digestion products. A damaged villi, fails to absorb nutrients correctly in the body that can lead to health difficulties such as malnourishment, infertility, miscarriages, loss of bone density – even the beginning of neurological diseases.

This protein can also be found in many other items in your every day life; lip balms, shampoo and conditioners, vitamins and medicines.

Symptoms of Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is different from a food allergy. Known symptoms may include any of the following and many more:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Anemia
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Weight loss
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating of swelling in the belly
  • Diarrhea or pale, foul-smelling tool (steatorrhea)
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis – affecting 15% – 25%, an intensely itchy rash that may show on your buttocks, knees or elbows.

Not everyone has these symptoms; some have no difficulty or obvious side effects making diagnosis even more difficult. It can be years before symptoms show due to the slow progression of damage to the intestines.

Testing for Coeliac Disease

There are two types of testing that Doctors use to determine Celiac Disease

  1. Serology Test – Tests for certain antibodies (also done during pregnancy)
  2. Genetic Testing – Tests for human leukocyte antigens

The toughest part, if you have self diagnosed yourself and currently maintain a gluten free diet already, you will need to come off it before having the antibody test for accuracy. If these tests come back positive, in some cases an endoscopic biopsy may be needed to validate the extent of damage on your small intestine.

Just because you have been diagnosed with celiac disease does not mean you are limited to travel, dining or socialising any differently. Become educated of what your food is made from, there are traces in completely bizarre items such as soy sauce or cross contaminating your bread in your family’s toaster. Be careful but be educated.

Related Tags: Celiac Disease DietCoeliac Disease Diet

Gluten Free West London UK During your trip to London you will probably notice that gluten free eating in restaurants is a breeze. Generally speaking, it is a city that caters well for people with food allergies, including those with a gluten allergy or intolerance.

West London in particular is a great area to explore gluten free friendly restaurants and cafes – they are everywhere! It is more unusual round there to find a restaurant that doesn’t highlight gluten free options on there menu and most have at least a handful of options for the Coeliac customer to choose from (and there are a few that are entirely gluten free).  

In terms of price, it will probably come as no surprise that the restaurants and cafes in this area aren’t cheap but generally you do get what you pay for and let’s face it no where in London is cheap.

Tried & Tested Gluten Free Friendly Restaurants in West London

  • Hummingbird Bakery, Various locations dotted around the city, I visited the South Kensington branch. 47 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3JP.  This bakery sells the most delicious and beautifully decorated cakes, including gluten free cupcakes.  Choose from a selection of gorgeous flavours including vanilla and red velvet.  All of those that I’ve tasted have been really tasty and have a great texture.  The icing is really yummy too!
  • The Truscott Arms, 55 Shirland Road, W9 2JD.  If you are a coeliac looking for traditionally British, hearty pub grub, then The Truscott Arms has your name all over it’s gluten free menu.  Yes, they have a dedicated gluten free menu and serve classic pub favourites such as, gluten free fish and chips and gluten free burgers.  It is also worth noting that hey also serve gluten free beer here too.
  • The Good Life Eatery, Various locations.  The Good Life Eatery restaurants have a focus on healthy eating and living.  They serve lots of amazing combinations of smoothies and juices which are great for an on the go pick me up This is also a good breakfast option for a coeliac as they have loads of gluten free breakfast choices on the menu.  The gluten free granola that they make here is really good as are the chestnut and almond waffles if you are looking for something a little different (and delicious!).
  • The MaE Deli, 21 Seymour Place, W1H 5BH. An article on gluten free eating in West London wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Deliciously Ella’s deli cafe. Again, this is a great breakfast choice as they have plenty on offer (everything they sell is gluten free), but is also equally great for lunch or dinner.  Try the fennel and aubergine curry ‘Mae bowl’, wonderful flavours and really filling.  They also have a deli counter selling lots of delectable items for you to take away (perfect to stash in your hotel mini bar).
  • Squirrel, 11 Harrington Road, South Kensington, SW7 3ES. Another restaurant with a focus on healthy eating (yes, there is a theme here, they are everywhere!).  The restaurant has an interesting ‘outdoors’ themed decor and serves yummy, healthy food – what’s not to love?! Try the ‘guac ‘n’ roll’ it’s really tasty!

 

Related Tag: Gluten Free Recipes

Gluten Free Orlando USA
A lot of the restaurants in Orlando had separate gluten free menus and the waiters and waitresses always seemed so happy to help if I had any queries regarding menu options. Click To Tweet

Orlando, a holiday destination famed for it’s theme parks, shopping malls and Disney everything!  It’s a large city with lots of Coeliac friendly restaurants and many cuisines are represented.

I found restaurants in Orlando to be very good in catering for coeliac customers (and those that suffer from other allergies for that matter).  A lot of the restaurants that I visited had separate gluten free menus and the waiters and waitresses always seemed so happy to help if I had any queries regarding menu options.

Gluten Free Eating, Orlando

  • Celebration Town Tavern, 721 Front Street, Celebration, 34747. This is a great choice for a hungry coeliac looking to replenish their energy levels after trawling around the theme parks all day!  The Celebration Town Tavern, which is done up to replicate a typical ‘New England’ tavern, has a separate gluten free menu and the options include gluten free pizza and a gluten free seafood medley.  Reasonably priced and very tasty food.
  • P.F Changs, The Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road, 32839. Looking for tasty gluten free Chinese food while in Orlando?  This is the place for you – P.F. Changs can provide gluten free customers with an entirely gluten free menu with lots of oriental choices to choose from.  The gluten free menu has lots of gluten free Chinese choices such as Chang’s spicy chicken and fried rice.  They also have gluten free desserts on offer – the gluten free berries and cream shortcake is definitely worth saving room for!
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill, Various locations. Mexican restaurants can be a great choice for a coeliac diner.  If they’re authentic, the corn tortillas should be gluten free (as they are traditionally made from masa), which they are at Chipotle’s.  You can build your own wraps or tacos according to what you fancy, the ingredients taste fresh and delicious, resulting in a very satisfying meal!
  • BJ’s Restaurant, Various locations, I visited the International Drive restaurant, International Drive, Orlando, 32819. This restaurant was able to provide me with my own gluten free menu card, showcasing the gluten free options that were up for pickings.  I can recommend the gluten free pizza that they served here, it had a nice crispy thin crust and they were not shy with the toppings!  They also have a  choice of gluten free salads and soups.
  • Crave, American Kitchen & Sushi Bar, 4158 Conroy Road, Orlando, 32839. This restaurant serves the unusual mix of American cuisine alongside Japanese sushi.  They have a separate gluten free menu for coeliacs or those with a gluten intolerance.  There are a wide choice of dishes on the menu, everything from Burgers to Miso glazed salmon – so there should be something to suit every taste!  The meals were of high quality and tasted great.

With many people holidaying in self catering apartments or villas in Orlando, I thought I should also mention where’s best to purchase gluten free products if you were thinking of making gluten free meals yourself, instead of going out.  I found Whole Foods Market (8003 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, 32819), to be a great choice.  They had lots of gluten free essentials here including, gluten free pasta, cookies and bread.

Related Tags: Coeliac Travel | Coeliac Diet Blog

Gluten Free Prague Czech Republic
The restaurant scene in Prague is definitely on the up. For the gluten free traveller in particular, there are plenty of gluten free friendly restaurants to enjoy. Click To Tweet

There’s more to Prague than stag dos and cheap booze. Yes, really!

The restaurant scene in Prague for example, is definitely on the up. For the gluten free traveller in particular there are plenty of gluten free friendly restaurants to enjoy.

The capital of the Czech republic can actually be quite a romantic city, just head to the ornate old town square for example, which is a great place to have a drink and people watch. There is also the beautiful castle which is not unlike something out of Shrek (it has a definite air of Dulock about the place), very picturesque.

Question is, where should you go for a great gluten free dinner after, or in between all the sightseeing? For gluten free restaurants, Prague has quite a number to offer.

Top 5 gluten free friendly restaurants in Prague

1. Mash Hana, Badeniho 3, Prague 6 – Hradcany. When you visit Prague, Japanese food might not be your first thought, but this restaurant is a great place to come for coeliacs. As with most Japanese restaurants there is a lot of choice for those with a gluten allergy, so you definitely will not go hungry! The food here is delicious and authentically Japanese.

2. Bellevue, Smetanovo nabrezhi 329/18, Prague 110 00. The gluten free food here was exceptional and although a little pricier than most places in Prague, it worked out a lot cheaper than what you’d pay in a Western European city for the same quality of meal (reason enough to go? Yes!) The decor was luxurious and the food was like that of a Michelin starred restaurant. These two things, combined with stunning views (especially at night time) over the Vltava river, make it a very memorable place to have a meal. There were loads of gluten free choices on the menu and the staff were very happy to point out meals that could be adapted to be coeliac friendly. The gluten free bread that they brought out before the meal was delicious with a great texture, all in all a great experience!

3. Lehka Hlava, Borsov 2/280, Prague 110 00. This is primarily a vegetarian restaurant but they also happen to have lots of gluten free choices on their menu. The meals are innovative, with lots of dishes on the menu that I hadn’t seen or tasted before. The restaurant’s menu has a key system to clearly show which meals are and are not gluten free, which is always a welcome find for a coeliac! They also highlight other allergens/vegan meals. Verdict? Very tasty gluten free food and very reasonably priced.

4. Svejk Restaurant U Karla, Kremencova 186/7, Prague 110 00. This is a quintessentially Czech style restaurant, with lots of traditional fayre on offer. I was excited to see that they had a whole gluten free menu, wow! This place is a coeliac’s heaven, with gluten free bread, gluten free dumplings and gluten free schnitzel all on offer. What could make this experience even better? A gluten free beer to wash it all down with, which coincidentally they also serve…

5. Tricafe, Anenska 188/3, Prague 110 00. A small cafe with quite a range of gluten free cake and various types of coffee on offer. When I visited there were 4 gluten free cakes to choose from. Great little pit stop while out seeing the sites of the city. I recommend the gluten free brownies, they were very delectable!

For a pre or post gluten free dinner cocktail head over to Hemmingway bar located down an unassuming side street, this is the place to get your cocktails. It’s an old fashioned style bar, with the waiters taking your drinks order at the table. The cocktail menu is extensive and the atmosphere in the bar makes it a place that should not be missed!

Top tip: Gluten free in Czech is bez lepku, although I found that most waiting staff were able to speak very good English it’s always good to be prepared!

Related Tag: Coeliac Diet Blog