Eight Tips for Living Gluten-Free with Confidence
Following a gluten-free diet could be challenging, here are some helpful tips to protect you in your gluten-free journey.
1. Become a label-reading expert.
You need to become fluent in the language of hidden gluten! Get used to reading the ingredients labels of your favourite foods- if a product contains gluten, it must be listed somewhere on the label. Gluten is found in wheat, (including spelt), rye, barley and oats. It is also important to be aware that even if a product does not contain gluten, it may have been harvested, transported or processed on equipment or in a facility that has also been in contact with gluten. Make sure that products are not only labelled as ‘gluten-free’, but were also created in a dedicated facility.
2. How do I minimise cross-contamination?
Cross-contamination is easiest to prevent by being strict with your food preparation areas, utensils, chopping boards and food storage. Make sure to wipe down all surfaces before using them, use new pots to boil water, and use a separate toaster so that there is no danger of gluten-containing crumbs making their way onto your plate. We also suggest using separate condiments and butter, and storing your gluten-free food in a different section of your pantry to avoid any confusion. Clear labelling of foods also never goes astray!
3. Where can I find hidden gluten?
It is very easy to be misled by complicated ingredients labels or by common misconceptions about gluten-free food.
- Firstly, if a gluten-free product is imported, it is not subject to the same regulations as products from Australia and New Zealand- double check that it is truly gluten-free before buying!
- It is also important that starches are often used as a binding agent or thickener for many foods. Many bouillon cubes, pre-made sauces and gravies contain wheat flour as a thickener; try making homemade sauces and utilising gluten-free cornflour as a .
- Frozen or shredded products (such as frozen chips, pre-grated cheese) are sometimes dusted with wheat-based flours to prevent sticking.
- Similarly, processed meats and vegetarian meat alternatives sometimes contain gluten-containing flours or breadcrumbs to bind them together- again, make sure to read the label!
Words to look out for on ingredients labels include:
- Barley malt
- Triticum vulgare (wheat)
- Hordeum vulgare (barley)
- Secale cereale (rye)
- Triticale (wheat/rye)
- Triticum spelta (spelt, a wheat variety)
- Pregelatinized starch
- Sodium starch glycolate
- Modified starch/modified food starch
- Natural flavour
- Artificial flavour
- Caramel colour
4. What about gluten-free alchol?
Gluten-free alcohol includes cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liquers. Remember to double check the ingredients of some spirits such as vodka- if it is made from a wheat, barley or rye grain, it is not gluten-free. Beers, lagers, stouts and ales also contain varying amounts of gluten, and thus are not safe to drink. Try and become familiar with the many great brands of gluten-free drinks
5. How do I travel whilst on my gluten-free diet?
Travelling while gluten-free shouldn’t be hard! If you do the right research, it is easy to maintain your gluten-free diet in a foreign environment. We suggest finding a local support group at your destination and bringing items from home if you feel uncomfortable buying foods that are unfamiliar. Being prepared with a translation that explains your dietary needs is very useful, as it allows you to establish not only which foods are gluten-free, but the conditions under which they were prepared. Your dietary requirements can be used to discover new foods and learn about native cuisine.
6. Are medications and beauty products gluten-free?
Gluten is sometimes used as a binding agent in some supplements, medications and beauty products. Additives that contain starch are often used to give tablets their structure. It is important to read the label in this context too- pay attention to inactive ingredients (binders or fillers) as it is these that are potentially sources of gluten. Words to look out for on the label include:
- Pregelatinized starch
- Sodium starch glycolate
7. Monitor your health.
As you are cutting gluten-containing foods out of your diet, it is easy to miss out on some important nutrients. Talk to your healthcare professional about the right dietary choices for you, and try to become more stringent about your nutritional choices! Common deficiencies amongst those with gluten sensitivities can include:
- B Vitamins
- Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K)
By rotating your intake of gluten-free grains, you are able to ensure that your fibre intake remains at the recommended level- similarly, it is encouraged that the gluten-free diet is augmented with starches such as sweet potatoes, beans and lentils.
Intended to be taken before potentially gluten-containing meals, GluteGuard is designed to be a helpful side-kick in the challenge of maintaining a gluten-free diet. Based on a naturally derived enzyme from the papaya fruit called caricain, GluteGuard’s smooth enteric coating allows it to pass through the acidic environment of the stomach and into the gut. The enzyme then works to actively target and breakdown any gluten molecules into smaller peptides that are easier for the body to digest. By using GluteGuard to help maintain your gluten-free diet, you can live your gluten-free life with confidence and positivity!
Contributor Glutagen, written by Georgie Halse.