1. Gather and Share More Information About Gluten
Whether you’re avoiding gluten for the sake of a loved one, have celiac disease, gluten intolerance or feel it’s more efficacious for your lifestyle, it’s important to learn all you can about gluten and gliadin proteins. As recently as five years ago, the average person had never even heard of gluten or gluten-free diets! It could be a challenging concept to explain to others. Fortunately, most people now know that gluten, and the similar protein gliadin, are found in foods containing wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. There’s still quite a bit of misinformation out there and not enough people understand how important and prevalent the need for a gluten-free diet can be. The more you learn about and explain gluten to others in your circles, the easier it becomes for you and other GF individuals to navigate around gluten.
2. Become a Label Reader
You know that the less processed food you eat, the better your health. Foods that are whole and or minimally processed are ideal. The majority of the time you don’t falter from this routine but sometimes that’s not completely feasible. There are times when using more processed food items may be necessary. That’s when your newly acquired knowledge of gluten/gliadin really comes into play! When you purchase packaged foods, read the labels carefully. Learn to decipher the names of ingredients that could potentially contain gluten. Substances such as MSG, natural flavorings, food coloring, emulsifiers, lecithins, and hydrolyzed vegetable proteins potentially contain gluten. Take note of where and how the foods are processed. Nuts are naturally gluten-free, but are often processed in facilities that also process wheat products.
3. When in Doubt Go Without
Social gatherings such as mixers and parties can present some unique, but surmountable challenges. In a social gathering no one wants to be a rude guest. If your host has made a divine looking dish it’s not impolite to inquire about its ingredients. If you’re uncertain about any food, politely decline to eat it. Use the opportunity of turning down the items to spark an informative and entertaining dialogue about gluten. Regardless, it’s still a party and you shouldn’t really have to go without eating something. So, be proactive and bring your own food! Better yet, when the opportunity makes itself available, always offer to bring a gluten-free dish or two. Just remember to be civil and engage the host who invited you to the gathering and you’ll be successful.
4. Watch for Cross-Contamination
Within a few months, learning what ingredients to avoid in your food becomes second nature. Being vigilant about separate cooking vessels, surfaces and utensils requires a bit more diligence. Sharing rice on the same plate as spaghetti is an obvious mistake, but the potential mistake of putting pickles on your meat patty may come as a surprise. Pickles are often processed using malted vinegar or beer. When at home and especially when dining out, make certain you reinforce the necessity of keeping gluten-free dishes separate.
5. Scout Ahead
Before eating at a new or unknown establishment, do a little research. Both word of mouth and online queries are a great start. Check out online directories, independent reviews and blogs. You should also contact the establishment. Ask them what protocols are in place regarding gluten. Be civil and thankful. Most staff and servers are receptive and helpful when it comes to food restrictions. When appropriate, be certain to give them a generous gratuity. Killing them with kindness as you inquire about gluten helps ensure that gluten won’t put a damper on your lifestyle.