Embarking on a gluten-free diet is not usually a lifestyle preference. Your body was probably sending clear, uncomfortable signals that certain foods are not well tolerated and should be avoided.
Switching to a gluten-free diet can be daunting as many products contain this common food protein. Fortunately, help is available, and creating gluten-free meals can be a snap, even if you have never embarked on a special meal plan before.
Gluten-free meal planning is essential for people with autoimmune disorders like Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and other gluten sensitivities. There are plenty of resources available to support gluten-free living. Mindful meal planning is essential to avoid gluten in the diet.
Learning to eat differently could be life-changing, and it does not have to feel like a punishment or deprivation diet. Embrace your new body-friendly diet and find exciting ingredients so that you can learn to enjoy food confidently again.
The Benefits of Gluten-Free Meal Planning
Whether you have been advised to go gluten-free by your medical practitioner or just have a suspicion that gluten could cause the uncomfortable symptoms you experience after eating, arming yourself with the necessary food knowledge will help you formulate a meal plan that works for you.
Unlike Celiac disease, there is currently no accurate testing for simple gluten intolerance. If you have noticed a pattern of abdominal discomfort after eating a particular type of gluten-rich food like bread, switching to a gluten-free diet for a few weeks poses no health risks, and you might feel better.
How To Go Gluten Free
According to Mayo Clinic, unless you have a specific condition that would benefit from excluding gluten from your diet, there isn’t any reason why anyone should specifically change to gluten-free eating. There appear to be no associated health benefits that come from excluding this protein for someone who isn’t sensitive to gluten.
For those with celiac disease or another condition that makes them gluten intolerant, excluding this substance from their diet can be life-changing. If you have been advised to exclude gluten from your diet or suspect that you have gluten sensitivity, you might not know where to start.
Gluten-free eating is different from other special meal plans because if you have a Celiac disease or other gluten allergy, you need to commit to the diet indefinitely. In the case of gluten sensitivity, you should begin to feel better after a few days of excluding gluten. However, it is recommended that you remain gluten-free for at least a few months for your gut to normalize and to feel the full health effect.
Going gluten-free is not something you can do in steps or stages, like transitioning to becoming vegetarian.
In that case, it may start with one meat-free day per week, then add more until all meat products have been cut out entirely. If you only suspect that gluten might be the reason for your gastric discomfort, then you should give yourself a trial period where you only eat gluten-free food. If gluten is the cause, relief should be felt within a few days.
Once you determine that you have gluten sensitivity, it is essential that you don’t slip back into old ways and immediately embark on a gluten-free meal plan. Unfortunately, there can be no ‘cheat days with gluten sensitivity.’
To effectively manage gluten-related conditions, this protein needs to be eliminated from the diet entirely.
If you have a gluten-intolerance or wheat allergy and will be embarking on a gluten-free diet, there are a few things you should do immediately:
- Being gluten-free is a lifestyle change that will make you feel a lot better, so start with a positive attitude. It is easy to immediately think about all the things that you think you may miss out on, but once you have explored all the options available, you will find that with some proper planning and selecting alternative products, your menu can be as full and exciting as before.
- Know which foods you must avoid and remove them from your grocery cupboard. You have probably already identified bread or cakes made with flour as gluten-rich products, but gluten is a commonly used additive in a range of products that you probably didn’t suspect. Soup mixes, stock cubes, and seasonings that you already have in your kitchen can contain gluten.
Use this list and do a thorough stocktake of everything in your kitchen so that you don’t inadvertently use something that contains gluten.
- Get excited. So many fabulous gluten-free options are available, so you to start enjoying food again. If you have recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease or discovered your sensitivity to gluten, you might have become cautious about food. Eating would usually have resulted in you experiencing pain and discomfort. The good thing about gluten-related food sensitivities is that relief can be experienced as soon the substance is removed from the diet.
Gluten-Free Meal Ideas
Being gluten-free only means that you need to avoid certain types of grains, especially wheat, barley, and rye, along with a few others. And, while these are widely used and contained in a lot of processed food, that still leaves a lot of other foods options that are naturally gluten-free and safe for you to eat.
There are many gluten-free replacements for commonly consumed foods, and if you love baking, you don’t have to get rid of your baking sheets or cake pans. You will simply need to choose gluten-free flour alternatives. Gluten-free food plans are generally more expensive than an everyday diet because products are made from costlier ingredients. The demand for them is less than traditional wheat-based products.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of information about gluten-free meal planning in our modern world. Ideas to create sumptuous meals for one, two, or entire families are readily available. Inspirational recipes for everything from gluten-free soups to birthday cakes can be sourced online. Chef Jamie Oliver and many others have some super gluten-free recipes that are delicious and easy to follow.
Celiac Vs. Gluten-Free Vs. Gluten Sensitivity
When you begin your gluten-free diet, you might become overwhelmed with all the new terms surrounding this topic. You might not even have been aware of gluten in food and ate whatever looked and smelled delicious.
The great news is that gluten-free food can still be gloriously satisfying and filled with flavor. With careful planning and some solid base recipe plans, you will soon be your own gluten-free master chef!
The only thing you actually need to cut out on a gluten-free diet is the bloating, bowel irritability, and other symptoms that you experience after consuming food that contains this substance.
If you have recently embarked on a gluten-free diet and shared this with colleagues or family, you might be surprised to find how common gluten sensitivity is. Most people already on their gluten-free meal journey readily share their experiences and offer gluten-free diet advice based on their own experience.
All the new terms can be confusing if you are a gluten-free meal novice. Before we dive into how to cut gluten from your diet, let’s unpack three terms often used in discussions surrounding this eating plan so you can knowledgeably participate in every conversation.
|Standard Terms Used In Gluten-Free Meal Planning|
|Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. Celiac disease can be a serious medical condition as the intake of gluten affects the immune system in such a way that damage occurs in the small intestine. Over time damage to the small intestine, lining prevents the absorption of nutrients from food.||Gluten is a protein that is found in some types of grain, including wheat, barley, and rye. Wheat is the most widely used gluten-containing ingredient as it binds food and gives it a rich texture. Think about bread and cakes. The FDA has set standards regarding labeling gluten-free food products so you can purchase with confidence if a product is specifically labeled as free of gluten. Many foods are naturally gluten-free, and many gluten-free substitutes are available that can replace grain products when baking or cooking.||People who are gluten sensitive often exhibit many of the same symptoms as those with Celiac disease, but no measurable damage is being done to the small intestine. By avoiding gluten, people with gluten sensitivity usually feel better within a few days without any lasting damage.|
Gluten-Free Meal Planning – Apps & Services
Some great menu planning resources are available if you feel overwhelmed or do not have time to create special gluten-free meals to keep your system healthy.
Since most people who move to gluten-free eating plans are doing so because they have a gluten intolerance or wheat allergy, it is essential that you first consult with your doctor to discuss what level of meal planning you need to use. Your doctor will also be able to take other medical conditions into account.
While gluten-free meals are usually a great option if you only have a specific gluten intolerance, they might need to be modified further if you, for example, have diabetes or are pregnant. Healthy gluten-free eating is therefore never a one-shoe-fits-all scenario.
If you have celiac disease, you should work with a dietician who can personalize your individual meal plan.
Gluten-free meal plan apps and services range from basic internet searches for recipes and ingredients lists to custom meal plans which can be pricey. It is essential to keep in mind that no matter what meal service or app you decide to use, the most important thing is to ensure you receive enough of all the correct nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.
Let’s look at some available resources when undertaking a gluten-free meal plan.
|Pros||Cons||Example Of Resource|
|DIY Gluten-Free Meal Planning||InexpensiveLots of free recipes are available onlineIt can be completely customized using ingredients you like||Easy to make mistakesTime-consuming when you startIt does not take into account any other medical conditionsYou may not be getting a balanced diet||Gluten-Free Scanner Shopwell Better Food Choices These nifty apps will help you while choosing gluten-free products while you are shopping|
|Premade Templates For Gluten-Free Meal Planning||There are a lot available Inexpensive to find||They may not all be entirely reliableCould include ingredients you aren’t familiar with or not in seasonNot custom to you||EatingWell Gluten free meal plan|
|Gluten-free meal planner Apps||Reasonably priced|
It can be customized to your needsIngredients are easy to swap
|Can’t take into account other medical conditions||PlateJoy Meal Planner App|
|Custom Gluten-Free Meal plans||Totally customized|
Takes into account all other conditions
Can provide feedback and meal plan can be adjusted accordingly
You can ask questions and get help
|Can be costlyIt might also be time-consuming as appointments are made with a nutritionist|
|Gluten-Free Restaurant Finder – Phone App||You can confidently enjoy eating at a restaurant|
Convenient phone app
|Find Me Gluten Free|
|Gluten-Free Meal Delivery Services||It takes the guesswork out of preparing gluten-free mealsProvides variety that you may not have if you are trying to think of meals yourself||It can be limiting if you feel eating like something else but already have specific ingredientsCan be expensive||CompareMealDelivery Several companies provide meal plans and prepacked gluten-free ingredients right to your door.|
Gluten-Free Meal Planning Schedule
Your gluten-free meal planning schedule should be set up to suit your schedule and regular household meals. Although gluten-free meals are often a particular medical requirement, there is no reason why the entire family won’t enjoy eating gluten-free – in fact, with some clever ingredient substitution, they may hardly notice any change.
If you have a packed schedule or you are not used to following any particular diet, it may be worth it to start your gluten-free journey by using a gluten-free meal delivery service. This convenient food service will get you into the habit of knowing what you do and don’t like without the fuss of going shopping and spending a lot of time sorting through ingredient labels.
Many downloadable gluten-free meal planning schedules are printable, and some even come with separate ingredient lists so you can take it shopping and know you haven’t forgotten anything.
How to Meal Prep for Gluten-Free Diet
Following a healthy diet of any sort is all about balance. Your body is unique, and your eating plan should provide nutrition according to factors like your daily activity, medical conditions, and body type.
While you are cutting gluten protein out of your diet, you must receive enough vitamins and fiber from other sources to replace the gluten content when you follow a gluten-free meal plan. It is clear is that setting up a healthy balanced gluten-free eating plan is more expensive than a regular diet, so be prepared to spend a little more on groceries.
However, if you are gluten sensitive or have a wheat allergy, switching to a gluten-free diet can be an investment in your health.
Finding Your Target Macros While Gluten-Free Meal Planning
Gluten-free meal planning should ideally be done in conjunction with a nutritionist, especially if you have a condition like Celiac disease. This professional will assist you in calculating the ideal amount of macronutrients you should consume each day.
If you want to exclude gluten for a few weeks as an experiment to determine gluten sensitivity, you should first assess your Macro ratio. This calculation is the perfect ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that your body should receive each day. There is a super online calculator that can assist provide a range of values and calorie needs which will help you work out the number of calories your body requires each day.
Where To Find Gluten-Free Recipes
Starting an entirely new mindful eating plan can initially be a little haphazard and challenging. Gluten-free eating is usually a result of an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, so sticking to your new meal plan is essential to maintain good health and avoid unpleasant gluten-related symptoms.
Create Your Gluten-Free Shopping List
Shopping for gluten-free products is all about knowing what you can and must not eat. Read through every product’s ingredients if you are new to gluten-free menu planning. Make a note of foods you must specifically avoid and counter it by listing some things you can enjoy so that grocery shopping doesn’t feel like a food-limiting punishment.
There are comprehensive resources available online that will give you direction regarding what food is safe and which are off-limits. Gluten-free scanning apps are also available, which can assist you in making choices while you are shopping.
Gluten-Free Storage & Containers
If you live on your own or with a partner, there is no need to keep separate storage containers for your gluten-free products. There is no risk that anyone else in the house will suffer any ill effects from gluten-free food, but you need to ensure that there is no accidental cross-contamination of gluten into your food.
If only one person in a household needs to eat gluten-free, keeping a separate bread bin is advisable as gluten-free staples like bread can become expensive if you go through a lot. Fortunately, there are plenty of gluten-free types of bread available, so following a gluten-free meal plan can be stress-free once you get used to it.
Sample Meal Plans for the Gluten-Free Diet
Embarking on a gluten-free diet is not usually by choice. However, it also doesn’t need to be overwhelming, and with a bit of planning, you will soon find meal options that you love and will match your budget and specific tastes. When you begin, some gluten-free substitutes will be unfamiliar food territory for you, so start off slowly with things you know and gradually build up your grocery list.
It is easy to find generic premade gluten-free meal plans like this 4-week properly researched meal plan from Gluten Intolerance Group. Once you have decided on a solid base plan like this one, you can mix and match gluten-free ingredients and create your own recipes.
Here is a handy table of meal resources that you can use while structuring your gluten-free eating plan:
Counting Calories While Planning Gluten-Free Meals
Gluten-free eating does not necessarily mean healthy eating. In fact, in some cases, the wheat flour content of some products has been substituted with an ingredient that contains more sugar or highly processed ingredients that contain more calories than you would typically expect.
It is easy to equate special diets with good health, but excluding gluten from a diet is simply the conscious removal of one specific common ingredient. So while you are contemplating recipes and snacks to incorporate into your gluten-free meal plan, keep track of the number of calories each meal contains and adjust your intake according to your daily requirements.
Gluten-free meal plans usually indicate the number of calories contained per portion and range from low-calorie gluten-free meal plans to high-calorie plans, which are intended for those with high energy requirements. EatThisMuch has a fun and handy tool that allows you to enter your daily calorie requirement, and it will generate gluten-free recipes accordingly.
Although gluten-free meal planning may seem daunting at first, the health benefits for those with Celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity conditions will far outweigh the initial challenges of setting it up. There are many resources and apps available that can be used to create exciting gluten-free menus.