Being gluten-free is still a relatively new idea. Food companies and restaurants are now offering a wide array of gluten-free options for those who are opting out of gluten; either because of a food intolerance or because of preference. It’s popularity is continuing to rise and now you can browse grocery aisles and see countless items with a gluten-free label.
But what is gluten anyways? It’s the proteins that are found in wheat, barley and rye. These gluten proteins are resistant to the enzymes that break down proteins in our digestive tract, which then causes irritation and disruption in the digestive tract, specifically the intestinal lining. The intestinal lining is made for nutrients to pass through because directly on the other side is our bloodstream, but when undigested proteins are passing through instead, this causes an immune response in our body. Our immune system flags these undigested proteins as foreign invaders and when we continue to eat gluten containing foods, this causes more disruption and inflammation in the body, potentially leading to autoimmune issues. When you have a sensitivity to gluten, your digestive system gets disrupted and can’t work properly which then creates pain, discomfort, and irregularity in your bowel movements. This can also create an issue with your body being able to properly digest other food, therefore making it hard for your body to get the nutrients it needs. Issues with gluten can also create breakouts on your skin, specifically on the jawline, chin, and neck.
Lately, a lot of people have found that they have issues with gluten and this could potentially be because these days, gluten tends to be highly processed and genetically modified. You can get allergy tested to see if gluten is an issue for you and you can also get tested for things like celiac disease to make sure you don’t have a more serious issue with gluten. You could also try an elimination diet and cut out gluten for 2 weeks to see how you feel.
There are countless gluten-free alternatives these days to crackers, cookies, breads, cakes, pastas, bagels, etc. Typically foods that are gluten-free have been deemed healthier, but that isn’t always the case. A lot of times these foods contain a lot of preservatives, additives, sugar, and fillers such as corn or soy, making these foods highly inflammatory. It’s really important when shopping for gluten-free products, whether out of necessity or preference, that we read food labels and make sure that the ingredient list isn’t a paragraph long. In an ideal world, products you buy should never have more than 5-10 ingredients and you should be able to pronounce and identify every ingredient on that list. There are a lot of products on the shelves that have every label such as organic, non-gmo, gluten-free, etc that we deem as “healthy” but if you take a look at the ingredient list, you will see added cane sugar, corn, soy, and other ingredients you aren’t able to pronounce. I highly recommend if you are buying processed foods (or anything that comes in a box) that you take a good look at the ingredient label.
I have been mostly gluten-free for about 6-7 years now. It’s a lot of trial and error with products that are good alternatives to some of my favorite foods like pizza and pasta. I’ve found some great ones and some not so great ones too. I’ve also learned how to cook gluten-free and have really enjoyed the process. I eat this way because it’s truly how I feel my best. When I let myself slip and eat something that isn’t gluten-free, I usually feel the physical effects with either a headache, sluggishness, difficulty concentrating, a rash on my arms, bloating, and/or anxiety.
Here are a few gluten-free products I use often that I really love:
This is my favorite Pizza dough mix from Simple Mills and I also love this
There are lots of other products on the market, but I find all of these to be some of the cleanest. All of the recipes on my blog are always gluten-free, so feel free to browse those for ideas on dinners, snacks, and desserts.