Gluten-free...it’s what we hear frequently these days, and it seems that more and more products are being put on the shelves and labelled with these two words. However, many of us don’t really understand the meaning behind them and the reason why gluten-free diets have become a topic many of us discuss nowadays.
Let’s start off by explaining what gluten is. Essentially, gluten is a protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. When an individual’s digestive system can not absorb nutrients from these grains, this condition is referred to as a Coeliac disease, and it’s usually treated by adopting a gluten-free diet. In recent years, there has been a rise in gluten intolerance, and doctors and scientists believe it’s due to the environmental and food changes.
In fact, in the last fifty years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of individuals suffering from gluten sensitivity. That had many food companies begin manufacturing products that exclude gluten from their list of ingredients. Nowadays, you can find gluten-free cosmetic products and even gluten-free pet food. Many restaurants and snack bars followed suit, incorporating gluten-free options on their menus as a way of accommodating gluten-intolerant customers.
Just like any other diet, the gluten-free diet must include different food groups in different amounts in order to be healthy. Let’s start by breaking down what a gluten-free diet consists of.
Lean proteins, fruits, veggies, healthy fats, dairy foods, gluten-free whole grains, as well as legumes like lentils, peas, and beans – all of these need to be implemented into your diet in order for you to get necessary nutrients. Whole, fresh fruits and vegetables are safe to consume as they naturally do not contain gluten (there are exceptions, of course). When it comes to frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, they’re usually gluten-free, but it’s best to check the label because there is a chance of gluten cross-contamination which usually happens during processing.
Next, we’re moving on to meats. Fish and meats are usually considered safe to eat but beware of ready-to-eat/ready-to-cook meals with meat (sauces and gravies usually rely on gluten as a thickener). Be careful with processed meats as well, especially sausages which can be made with bread crumbs. Instead of having the products sliced in the store, stick with prepackaged meat to avoid cross-contamination.
Dairy products like butter, fresh plain milk and yoghurt, eggs and most cheeses don’t contain gluten, but there’s no guarantee that the ice-creams are gluten-free, so always check twice. When purchasing snacks, cakes, pasta, bread and cereals, always look for a gluten-free label. The same goes for prepared foods such as canned soups, frozen pizzas and dinners, baking mixes, baking supplies, as well as spices, sauces, and condiments, even salad dressings.
Distilled alcohol is safe to drink, but some people have a reaction to it, so be cautious. Unflavored wines, unflavored coffee, and plain tea are also gluten-free, as well as most sodas, bottled iced teas, and energy drinks. As for the beer and fruit drinks, be wary and always check.
While this whole list of what you can eat may seem overwhelming, thankfully, there are a lot of gluten-free recipes that show you how you can combine all these approved ingredients and whip up meals so tasty you’ll forget about all the things you shouldn’t eat on a gluten-free diet. Whether you’re craving glazed pork with kebabs, beef and lentil chilli, chicken mole tacos, or a honey-spiced salmon with quinoa salad – by following these simple, quick, and easy recipes, you can throw amazing dinners at home and amaze your guests with your inspiring culinary skills.
On the other hand, if you’re not as confident in your cooking skills but still want to deliver mouthwatering dishes and have your guests going back for seconds (or thirds!), you can always rely on professionals to whip up delicious meals for you. Many catering companies nowadays offer a wide range of gluten-free options to accommodate different diets. Whether you’re planning a corporate event or simply want to surprise your friends and family, you can simply hire your local catering company without having to think about how or what to prepare.
Even though eating foods that contain gluten is safe for most people, the rise in popularity of gluten-free diets can be explained by the fact that individuals see a gluten-free diet as a way of eating healthier. Gluten-free diet brings a number of health benefits and can be a good option when it comes to losing weight as it focuses on eating whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods. Even though adopting a gluten-free diet may seem daunting at first, by following the rules above you can make this transition go smoother and easier, sans stress.