Consumer of wheat and gluten-y products: have you been convinced? Are you ready to go gluten free? No? OK, well then I suggest you consume part 2 of this 3-part series on going gluten free to discover some helpful techniques in maintaining your GF lifestyle and some unforeseen benefits of saying goodbye to wheat.

gluten free granola

This granola a friend left behind might look friendly but it’s trouble. Barley malt syrup and the risk for cross contamination in the facility.

Aside from having fewer adhesion related issues, I noticed that I felt a little more lean and even dropped a couple of pounds in my first dedicated week of gluten free-ing it up even though that wasn’t my intention. It was explained to me that I lost water weight. What happens is that when the body has an adverse reaction to something you put into it (hi there, gluten. I’m looking at you.), it naturally has an inflammatory response and this inflammation is made up of, well, a variety of things, but the body holds on to water, thus making you puffy. When you eliminate the problem causer (still looking at you, gluten), the inflammatory response dissipates and that extra water that was being held on to makes its way out, thus a few pounds gone in my first week off gluten.

Now, if there’s one thing to be skeptical about, it’s whether or not gluten is creeping into your meal when you think you’re gluten free and good to go.

Don’t Assume it’s GF

gluten free pizzaI bet you never knew that that Marsala sauce you’re enjoying with your chicken and rice pasta has flour as its choice thickening agent. Or that those semi-crunchy fries that came with your delicious lettuce wrap sammie are actually breaded. Or that the vodka martini you’re enjoying actually came from a gluten grain and isn’t at least triple distilled, so you’re going to feel the wrath later. Gluten is sneaky. It pops up in unexpected places, even when you’re 98% sure the coast is clear. A lot of salad dressings (soy sauce included!) and snack foods have flour or gluten in them, as well as many cereals—and only because of the malt coloring in some cases. You really need to pay attention to labels and take an active role in your gluten free lifestyle or else what’s the point of trying to be GF if it’s just going to sneak in anyway?

Have Go-Tos

I’m lucky enough to have a partner that also maintains a gluten free diet (well, most of the time. Let’s just say he’s not afraid to stray when the siren song of tres leches calls.), so it makes preparing meals in our home a pretty straightforward activity because we know everything in our pantry and fridge is GF. However, when we go out, we know that you can get a salad at any restaurant, but we want a meal. A delicious, gluten free meal, so we have local places we enjoy but also food categories that work when we go to new places.

  • Thai food. Mmm… delicious for many reasons, but they don’t use wheat flour in their preparation at all, as that’s just not what the culture dictates. You’re looking at fabulous curries over rice or glass (rice) noodles and tasty veggie and meat dishes. Oddly enough, however, some curry pastes can contain gluten, so always ask. Oh, added bonus of Thai? They use coconut milk exclusively, so their dishes are gluten & dairy free. #winning
  • Mexican food. While a girl may have to go burrito-less at any Mexican restaurant, she can enjoy the chips and salsa (most of the time, be sure to ask!) and almost any other dish, so long as the flour tortillas are swapped out for corn tortillas. Mexican food is a little less cut & dry than Thai, so I’d be sure to double check on what they use in their rice, beans and other side dishes. Also consider the rise in popularity of the burrito bowl. It’s a burrito. Without the giant tortilla. In a bowl. #genius

gluten free AlexsFor a gluten free traveler, having an app like Alex’s Gluten Free Spots can make a world of difference when trying to locate a safe and delicious place to eat. The app is somewhat new, but what’s great is that it is interactive, so when it locates you using the GPS on your phone, it brings up a list of all eateries in your areas. From there, you can go in and add pictures, rank variety of menu, taste of food (we all know this can be a little dicey sometimes), knowledgeable staff (no cross contamination, please!), overall restaurant and give a yes/no answer as to whether or not the restaurant is Celiac friendly. It’s a pretty cool app.

Now if you’re still curious and aching for all things gluten free, come back for part 3 of our 3-parts series and I’ll wax poetic about virtues- and pitfalls- of going gluten free.