Published On: Tue, Oct 20th, 2015

Top Tips for Starting a Gluten-free Diet

Embarking on a gluten-free diet can seem very daunting, so here are some top tips from Europe’s number 1 gluten-free food company, Schär’s, resident dietitian to help get you started…

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1 There’s no reason why a gluten free diet can’t be healthy and well balanced.

Eat regular meals based on gluten free starchy foods (including potatoes, rice, gluten free breads and pasta), include a range of low fat protein-rich foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and pulses, and of course aim to eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg daily.

2 Always speak to your GP or dietitian.

If nutritional science isn’t your strong point, consider asking your GP to refer you to a registered dietitian, or search for a dietitian privately who will be able to support your quest to go gluten free.

3 The right advice and support will help to ensure you are able to stick to your new gluten free regime.

Consider joining Coeliac UK, the national charity for people with coeliac disease. You could also join the Schär Club, for free. Schär offer a wealth of useful information, recipes and healthy living tips to support those following a gluten free diet.

4 Research shows that people following a gluten free diet may eat less of some key nutrients, for example calcium and fibre:

Calcium
A gluten free diet can reduce calcium intake from cereal based foods – semi/skimmed milk, low fat yogurts and cheese, fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit, tinned fish (with bones!), and green leafy veg are all great alternatives to get your 2-3 portions daily.

Fibre
Fibre is needed to maintain healthy gut functioning. Don’t let your new gluten free regime become a fibre-free zone by ensuring you include high fibre/seeded gluten free breads and pastas, maintaining a healthy fruit and veg intake and adding beans/ lentils and pulses to lunches and evening meals.

5 Experiment with adapting recipes and trying new foods.

Following a gluten free diet is likely to significantly alter your usual meal and snack choices, so be prepared to try new foods and test out your cooking skills.

Schar.co.uk offers gluten free recipes and advice. Remember, some gluten free foods will require different cooking times/ temperatures than their gluten-containing equivalents

6 Read labels carefully

The presence of gluten containing cereals (wheat, rye, oats* and barley) must now be clearly labelled on food products no matter how small the amount used. Allergens, including gluten-containing cereals, will always be highlighted within the ingredients list.

7 Enjoy eating out, but plan ahead.

A lot of restaurants and bars can offer gluten free menu options, but it’s worth calling ahead to ask what’s available. Don’t be afraid to check on how food is cooked and prepared so you feel reassured that your meal isn’t going to make you ill.
Alternatively download the GlutenFreeRoads app to find gluten free venues worldwide, simply by entering the postcode or area of where you want to eat.

8 Be prepared.

If you spend a lot of time away from home it’s worth keeping some suitable stand-by snacks close to hand. Make sure you have a supply of long-life gluten free options in your handbag, rucksack, car or desk drawer.

If you think you’re suffering from poor health as a result of eating gluten, always speak to your GP about your symptoms and request a blood test for coeliac disease before removing gluten from your diet. Cutting gluten before being tested will provide a false negative result.
If your coeliac tests are negative, gluten may still be the cause of your symptoms – you may be suffering from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, an increasingly recognised medical condition with similar symptoms to coeliac disease.

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