Getting Started with a Gluten-free Lifestyle. Part I- Resources.
So, your physician has recommended a gluten-free diet. Or, you’ve seen how much better your best friend feels after following a gluten-free diet for just a few months- she’s lost weight, has more energy and seems more like herself. You want to give it a try. But where to start?
The first thing, before diving in, is to understand the difference between celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the choice to not eat gluten because it makes you feel better. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that requires patients completely abstain from gluten, even in trace amounts. Eating gluten for these patients can have severe and long-term health repercussions. Patients without celiac disease but with a gluten sensitivity may have mild or severe symptoms when eating gluten but the gluten is less likely to do irreversible damage when it is ingested. In my opinion trace amounts of gluten should still be avoided for these folks but in most cases the repercussions are not as serious if there is a slip. People who are choosing to avoid gluten just to be healthier and feel better have the most amount of flexibility and are most often able to eat gluten intermittently without a problem. I can easily say that in the last 15 years I’ve only had a few patients that didn’t feel substantively better from avoiding gluten.
The resources that I will be offering here are mostly designed for people with celiac disease. That said, they are a great resource for anyone who wants to avoid gluten.
http://www.celiac.com/ General information website. Good basic information and recent news. Format of the website isn’t terribly accessible. Many ads.
http://celiac.org/ Website of the Celiac Disease Foundation.
http://www.gluten.net/ GIG- gluten intolerance group of North America. Handouts and general information for patients and clinicians alike. Information about local GIG groups.
http://www.celiacchicks.com/ Making gluten-free seem a bit more, well, cool.
http://glutenfreepdx.com/ Well written and chock full of ideas. They have a new link for gluten-free food carts…it’s not working right now but I shot the guy a email so hopefully it will be soon!
http://www.glutenfreeportland.org/ Some folks I know in Portland started this site. Fabulous for local Portland gluten-free resources as well as general information about gluten-free living.
Recipe Resources. If you love food and love cooking, one of the important things you need to do when avoiding gluten is to be able to adapt recipes to your individual needs. Also, to be able to search for recipes on line and find those that are gluten-free, even when they are not labeled or plugged as such. There are two main sites that I use for recipes: epicurious.com and cookstr.com. Neither has a great search engine for gluten-free (for instance cookstr.com has a filter for gluten-free recipes but they’ll only come up if the recipe is tagged as gluten-free.) But, there are hundreds of gluten-free recipes on this website and even more that are easily adjusted to be gluten-free. You just have to take some time to dig in. Once you find recipes you want to try you can save them to your recipe list. I go one step further and print them out to put in a binder so they’re easily accessible when I need some inspiration.
Low-carb recipes will also often be gluten-free, or easily adapted to be gluten-free.
These are a few gluten-free specific recipe sites/blogs- I haven’t tried any of them because I tend to adapt general recipes but after this post I’m excited to peruse them.
http://www.livingwithout.com/ This is the companion website to a great magazine with articles about allergen-free living as well as fabulous product resources and recipes. I just signed up for their weekly recipe newsletter. If you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, or anything else-free I recommend getting the magazine.
And of course, you can find recipes right here…