Are you following a gluten-free diet like me? If so, chances are you’re making a lot of mistakes.
For those new to the gluten-free diet, sticking to it is tough, but it does get easier with time. For gluten-free experts who have been doing it for a long time like me, this diet is a piece of [gluten-free] cake.
In fact, being gluten-free has made me feel healthy again. I’ve even put my celiac disease into remission.
Yep, I got rid of so many ailments including:
- Painful bloating
- Embarrassing gas
- Geographic tongue
- Red bumps on my arms (keratosis pilaris)
- Dark circles under my eyes
- Low energy
Once I learned I had celiac disease, I knew being gluten-free was my new way of life gluten-free for good.
However, it’s not so black and white for most people, especially if you’ve never received a clear cut diagnosis like celiac disease. Instead, many people transition to the gluten-free diet for their own personal health reasons. They usually try it for a few weeks or even a few months, and then, if they don’t feel better, they give it up.
What they don’t realize is that healing from the damages from gluten takes time, patience and some nutrition know-how.
I’ve seen so many people go on a gluten-free diet and make so many mistakes that sabotage not only their chances of being successful on the diet, but also sabotages their chances at achieving good health.
Top 10 Gluten-Free Diet Mistakes
1. Assuming Something Is Gluten-Free Because It Looks Gluten-Free
Looks can be deceiving! For many years, I had no idea that licorice wasn’t gluten-free. It looks like it should be, but guess what, the first ingredient in licorice is wheat flour! Remember, hidden gluten is often found in things like chicken broth, seasonings, BBQ sauces and salad dressings. Just because it looks gluten-free doesn’t mean it is gluten-free. Read 10 Surprise Products that Contain Gluten.
2. Assuming a GF Menu Means a Restaurant Knows Gluten-Free
Many people, including those in the restaurant industry, do not understand what “gluten-free” means. I had a server once tell me I couldn’t eat a dish because it had rice in it (rice is gluten-free) and then another server insisted that farro was gluten-free (it’s not). Never take your server’s word. Instead, ask questions about what’s in the dish, how it’s seasoned and ask your server to check ingredient labels and discuss your allergy with the manager and whomever is preparing your food. Always be on the look out for cross contamination too – the biggest saboteur. The more questions you ask, the more likely you’ll get a safe meal.
3. Stocking Up On Gluten-Free Packaged Foods
Gluten-free packaged foods are often loaded with sugars, inflammatory oils, corn and soy products, and all sorts of other white refined grains and starches. Just because it’s labeled “gluten-free” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In fact, loading up on packaged gluten-free foods will most likely keep you sick and cause weight gain too.
4. Thinking a Little Gluten Won’t Hurt
Think again! Even a little gluten can undo all the progress you’ve made. If you have celiac disease, even a little gluten will launch an autoimmune attack in your body. If you suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, a little gluten can make you feel like crap and whatever symptoms you were trying to avoid will reappear. Eating a little gluten is just not worth it!
5. Not Properly Investigating a Product for Gluten
Gluten goes by many names so it’s important that you do your due diligence when shopping at the grocery store. I’ve created a cheat sheet that lists 100 Alternatives Names for Gluten, which is a handy tool for uncovering alternative names for gluten in packaged foods. When eating at restaurants, a great way to protect yourself from accidental glutening is by using your Nima Sensor. The Nima Sensor is a gluten testing device that will tell you if the food you’re about to eat contains gluten. It has saved me many times from getting glutened when eating out. The best way to avoid gluten, however, is to eat as naturally gluten-free as possible. Load up on lean meats, fatty fishes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds.
6. Not Vetting Beauty Products for Gluten
Research indicates that shampoos and beauty products that contain gluten can’t be absorbed by the skin and therefore won’t harm someone with celiac disease. This means you can touch gluten; you just can’t eat it (and you should definitely wash your hands after touching gluten!) However, if there is a risk of ingesting the product, such as the case in lipsticks, lip balms, lotions and hand sanitizers, then you must use products that do not contain gluten. I recommend lipsticks and beauty products that are certified gluten-free – just to be safe. Lipstick and lip balm brands that are certified gluten-free and I personally recommend are Gabriel Cosmetics and Red Apple Lipstick. I use them both and love them! Here I am in Red Apple’s Can’t Be Beet lipstick.
7. Not Understanding the Risks of Cross Contamination
Your food can’t touch gluten, period. So that means you can’t pick the croutons off your salad or remove the bun from your burger and be okay. It means your food can’t be handled or cooked on the same surface as something that contains gluten. For example, your pizza can’t touch the same surface in the oven as the gluten pizza and your fries can’t be fried in the same fryer as breaded chicken fingers. Remember, if you want to be truly gluten-free, and give the diet a fair shot, your food must be thoughtfully cooked and served in an environment completely free from gluten contamination! You can read more about the perils of cross contamination, and how to avoid it, in this article.
8. Not Keeping Your Food Separate
You can get cross contamination in your home too! Things like tubs of butter, peanut butter and jelly jars, toaster ovens and colanders are home to itty-bitty bits of gluten. Someone may dip their knife in the tub of butter, spread it on their gluteny bread, and then dip the knife in the tub of butter again, leaving gluten bits behind. Keep your food separate and labeled in your house. Also, keep your food on the top shelf of the pantry to eliminate the risk of gluten-containing cereal or other products dripping down on your gluten-free food. Here are more tips to setting up your kitchen to be a gluten-free safe zone.
9. Giving Up Because It’s Not Working
So many people give up on their gluten-free diet without giving it a fair shake. They may go gluten-free for a week and feel no different. Give it some time. Undoing disease in your body is going to take more than one diet change and one week. A lot of people go gluten-free for months and don’t feel different – what they later realize is they’re eating the same crap as they ate prior to being gluten-free, only they’re eating gluten-free versions of that crap. They’re swapping bread for gluten-free bread and cookies for gluten-free cookies. Remember, what you put in your body is just as important as what you take out! Fill your body with naturally gluten-free foods that are nutrient dense and good for you. Avoid sugars and white refined grains – even gluten-free refined grains – like the plague.
10. Not Getting Help From an Expert
So many people try to be gluten-free and fail. It’s often because they don’t know how to maintain the gluten-free diet for the long haul and/or they lack support from someone who can truly help them. Working with a health and nutrition professional will not only help you jumpstart your gluten-free diet, but also will help you learn techniques and tricks for maintaining your gluten-free diet for life. If you’re looking for someone to help you transition to a gluten-free diet, fix your diet, or help you learn how to maintain your gluten-free diet on a day-to-day basis, please consider working with me. I’m a health and nutrition counselor – and I happen to have celiac disease too – so I know what you’re going through!
Want more information? Visit my Health & Nutrition Counseling page online. Thank you!
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