How to Have a Gluten-Free Diet

Toying with the idea of transitioning to a gluten free diet? Or just want to know more about what a gluten free diet actually involves? YouQueen has the details.

If you’ve ever dreamt of being one of those seemingly food savvy girls who know exactly which ingredients are in what foods, then you’re in luck. We go behind the scenes to uncover the gluten free diet so you can be informed, educated and inspired.

What is the gluten-free diet?


First things first, what the heck is a gluten free diet anyway? The term is bandied about pretty often, but many of us still don’t know what it actually means. Here to state the obvious, the Mayo Clinic defines a gluten-free diet as a diet that is, erm, free of gluten. Thanks, Mayo Clinic. Thankfully, however, they do expand on this concept further.

Gluten can be located in grain-like substances, such as barley, rye, triticale and wheat.

Although many new-age food-ists will subscribe to a gluten-free diet as a way to be ‘healthier’, this type of diet is actually only ever prescribed to individuals with coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is considered to be an autoimmune disorder that impacts the small intestine. Individuals are normally genetically predisposed to this condition and symptoms vary from fatigue to chronic diarrhea and constipation. A gastroenterologist can identify the presence of coeliac disease.

According to the experts, gluten is removed from a coeliac sufferers diet because it inflames the small intestine. By removing gluten, the symptoms of coeliac disease can be controlled.

So, who should be on a gluten-free diet?

Now even if the idea of going gluten-free appeals to you, keep in mind that it might not actually do your health any favors if you do make the switch.

According to the experts, unless you have coeliac disease (which affects around one percent of the population), wheat allergies or gluten sensitivity, transitioning to a gluten-free diet doesn’t actually reap any health benefits. In fact, if can even harm your health.

Katherine Tallmadge, the author of ‘Diet Simple’, believes that some products that contain gluten, including whole grains, actually offer a range of nutritional benefits include being excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. By removing these food products from your diet, you’re also removing the vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Meanwhile, a gluten-free diet can be missing crucial nutritional components including iron, fiber, vitamin B12, zinc, phosphorous, calcium, niacin, thiamine and folate. That’s a pretty long list for a diet whim, right?

That’s not to say that going gluten-free will definitely harm your health. Tallmadge believes that it is possible to enjoy a nutritionally balanced diet even if you go gluten-free, but it requires high-level knowledge that most people don’t have.

Therefore, before you bounce excitedly into a gluten-free diet, you should be prepared and arm yourself with the proper tools and knowledge.

How to prepare for a gluten-free diet

fruits in water

If you still want to proceed with a gluten-free diet, you should begin to acquaint yourself with the types of foods that are accepted and the kinds of foods that aren’t accepted.

To get you started, here is a quick list.


  • All kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Any kind of fruit juices
  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Soy
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Un-marinated, processed or breaded meat and fish
  • All kinds of oils
  • Unflavored milk
  • Unflavored tea
  • Whole and ground coffee beans

Not accepted:

  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Wheat

Foods to avoid:

  • Alcohol, including ale, stout and beer (unless gluten-free)
  • Liquorice
  • Spaghetti, lasagna, two-minute noodles, gnocci, soba noodles, hokkien noodles (unless gluten-free)
  • Ice cream in a cone
  • Selected soymilk
  • Selected potato and corn chips
  • Fruit-pie filling
  • Biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Breads
  • Some condiments including mustard, pickles, sauces, gravy and salad dressings
  • Selected chocolates
  • Selected sweets
  • Malted milk
  • Most cereals (unless labeled gluten-free)
  • Most baking products (unless labeled gluten-free)

Now as you can see, avoiding barley, rye and wheat is actually harder than you might first think. To play it safe, stick to food products that are specifically labeled as ‘gluten-free’ or natural foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Next, once you’ve become familiar with the types of foods that you can and cannot eat, give yourself time to mentally get used to the idea.

If you’re like most people, you will likely have travelled through life without needing to be too aware of the ingredients in your meals. Besides the odd diet and nutritional plan, most of us without food allergies eat unrestricted diets.

But if you’re switching to a gluten-free diet, this will change dramatically. You’ll need to avoid foods that you may have enjoyed all of your life, and foods that have been known to comfort you. This is a particularly hard thing to come to terms with.

So allow yourself time to grieve all the foods you are no longer able to eat and mourn the loss of your eating habits and patterns. Changing behavior is never easy, no matter what the cause, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you become frustrated and irritated every now and then. It’s only normal.

Next, make sure you tell your friends, family and co-workers that you’re switching to a gluten-free diet. Not only will they offer support, but they may also have experience or knowledge with this type of diet and can offer you advice and guidance. Keep in mind that genetics often predict the prevalence of coeliac disease so if you have this condition, one of some of your family members may have it too.

It’ll also be easier to explain why you’re turning down foods that you used to love and it will help others know how to cook for you when you are being entertained.

And finally, become used to the idea of cooking and preparing your own meals a lot. It will be much easier for you to stick to your new diet if you know exactly what ingredients have been used. This is particularly important for those who do suffer from coeliac disease. Rediscover (or just discover) your love of cooking and enjoy the feeling of knowing that you have prepared a healthy, nutritious gluten-free meal.

How to shop gluten-free

Okay, so you’re mentally, physically and socially ready to take your first steps into the realities of the gluten-free diet. Where should you begin?

A good idea is to start by restocking your kitchen and your pantry. You can kick-start this process by removing any products that contain gluten. Alternatively, if other members of your family or home will continue to eat gluten products, simply place these products in a different area of the kitchen and ensure everyone knows that’s where gluten products should go.

Next, take a trip to the local supermarket. Expect to spend almost double the amount of time shopping for your food items than normal. While this time will decrease as you become more accustomed to your diet, it’s a good idea to set aside a fair amount of time for the first few trips.

Jax Peters, the author of Against the Grain, suggests that you look out for foods that are as fresh as possible as they will likely be gluten-free. She suggests that you stay away from anything that looks processed and convenient (i.e. two-minute meals, microwavable meals, packaged foods) as they will likely contain gluten.

Next, try to shop around the perimeter of the supermarket, as this is where all of your fresh food will be located. Think meat, fresh juices, fruits, dairy, vegetables, fish and poultry. As a gluten-free shopper, this is where the majority of your time will be spent. You’ll also discover that it will be best to prepare meals than buy ones that are pre-prepared, as often gluten manages to sneak into these products.

If you do have to dally iwithn the middle aisles, keep a look out for foods that proclaim themselves as being gluten-free. Many supermarkets now have a dedicated ‘health aisle’ where you can normally find gluten-free pasta, potato chips, peanut butter and other similar products.

During your middle aisles stint, be wary of choosing products that are labeled as ‘organic’ or ‘wheat-free’ as this does not necessarily equate to gluten-free.

Gluten-free recipes and resources


Now for the fun stuff! We have compiled a list of awesome gluten-free recipes and resources to get you excited about your new diet. Here are our favorites:

If you have any other gluten-free resources you think are useful, include them in the comments.

About the author

Cassandra Lane

While Cassandra readily admits to being a rampant cupcake aficionada (how could she not be with an almost-brother-in-law that owns not one, but three cupcake shops?) she happily works off her lust of all things sweet and sugary by slogging it out in the gym and outdoors.

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