When you remove gluten from your diet, it can seem as though the bulk of what you can eat has disappeared. I commonly hear, ‘But what do I eat now?!’ However, there is a huge, exciting array of gluten-free foods available!
Gluten can create huge damage in our gut, leading to a wide range of health issues like anxiety, headaches, constipation, diarrhoea, autoimmune diseases, body aches and pains – and the list goes on. Gluten is also highly addictive, so although we recognise that it is doing us harm, we find it hard to eliminate it from our diet. That’s why it’s important to find some good gluten-free alternatives to take its place.
So, What Should I Eat Instead of Gluten?
When avoiding gluten, it is important to note that ‘gluten-free products’ aren’t always the best alternative. They often contain a vast range of additives that are also harmful to your health. This may include genetically modified corn and soy, preservatives that may kill your good gut bugs, fillers, flavour enhancers and much more. Food industries are aiming to create gluten look-a-likes, but these may not actually be real food and may be just as harmful to your health as their gluten-filled counterparts. It’s important to always read the ingredients list of all the products you consider consuming. If you cannot find a gluten-free product without added nasties, then make something yourself with ingredients you trust, like the suggestions at the end of this blog!
Which Grains Contain Gluten?
It is important to realise that there are many grains containing gluten, and that it is not just found in your average bread, pasta, bagel or burger. It is also found hidden in many foods, often called something you may not even realise as containing gluten. The grains below are those you need to be wary of:
- Wheat (includes wheat varieties such as spelt, kamut, farro, durum, semolina and bulgar)
- Oats – they do not technically contain gluten themselves, but in Australia they are highly processed with gluten-containing grains so are classified to contain gluten in most cases (unless otherwise stated).
The following gluten-free alternatives below are not only seriously delicious, but are also much easier to digest than gluten-containing grains, particularly when prepared correctly. All grains are much easier to digest when they are either soaked, fermented or sprouted and this is highly, highly recommended before consuming. This is because it removes the naturally occurring toxic chemicals such as phytic acid and lectins. When soaked, sprouted, fermented and/or cooked, the content of these naturally occurring chemicals reduces dramatically and the grains become much more digestible. First remove gluten, and then if you feel like you want to introduce some grains back into your diet, start with those below, ensuring you prepare them correctly.
Five Gluten-Free Grains That Are Easier To Digest:
- Oats that have not been contaminated with wheat (see above)
Here are some quinoa recipes to get you started, including chocolate muffins, porridge, savoury fritters and savoury muffins. Also, here are some delicious caramel muffins to try using buckwheat flour, as well as a crispy turmeric rice recipe, and a berry rice pudding. If you are just starting to use these grain alternatives in your baking and cooking, then I suggest you follow a recipe until you get an understanding of how they work, as they can behave differently to gluten-containing grains.
If you are aiming to avoid grains completely, then there are plenty of grain-alternative flours as well, such as green banana flour, coconut flour, sunflower seed meal, almond meal, pumpkin seed meal – and the list goes on. Try these Gluten-Free Cheese & Bacon Rolls or this Anti-Inflammatory Paleo Sausage Roll made with almond meal, or these Tapioca Wraps.
Always remember just because the ingredients change, it doesn’t mean the menu has to. You can create your old classics, just with a few tweaks to the ingredients.
Have fun experimenting, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you have a few fails when making a recipe using an alternative flour – we all go through this learning process when transitioning to a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet.
Are you trying to go gluten free? What delicious gluten-free recipe alternatives do you have that have changed your life?
Nutritionist & GAPS Practitioner