Excitement over the health and wellness benefits that can be gained from following a gluten free diet can lead people to jump right into banning gluten from their diets. But while this enthusiasm for a gluten free diet is to be applauded, switching your diet too quickly can sometimes lead to unintentional mistakes being made. (Wondering just what exactly are the benefits of a gluten free diet?) In fact, even gluten free veterans can sometimes be guilty of unknowingly making gluten free diet missteps.
While a gluten free diet is relatively simple and easy to follow, common mistakes can detract from garnering the maximum benefits from cutting gluten from your diet. Read on to find out four of the most critical mistakes you didn’t even know you were making in your gluten free diet, and how you can fix them today!
4 Critical Mistakes on a Gluten Free Diet and How to Fix Them
1. Relying on Processed Gluten Free Foods
As the gluten free diet continues to gain popularity, manufacturers are offering more and more gluten free products. While it was once a real challenge to find gluten free options, you can now find entire sections of grocery stores dedicated to gluten free substitutions to replace gluten filled favorites. With the ease and availability of so many gluten free foods, it can be all too tempting to fill your cart with processed packaged gluten free products.
The problem with this way of following a gluten free diet is that while these foods do not contain gluten, they are still usually filled with the sodium, sugars, and other refined carbs that are hallmark of processed foods.
The Fix: Instead of relying on gluten free imitations, make the goal of your gluten free diet to be finding healthy gluten free alternatives. For example, instead of buying gluten free pasta, try topping spiral sliced veggies with your favorite sauce; make a filling and flavourful omelet that’s so tasty and healthy that gluten free toast imitation will pale in comparison!
2. Equating Gluten Free with Nutritious
If gluten is bad for you, then gluten free must automatically mean a food is good for you, right? The reasoning behind this thought seems logical enough, but unfortunately it falls short of being true. Consider this: potato chips, milkshakes, mayonnaise, and skittles are all gluten free, but they would hardly qualify as healthy diet staples. The same is true of many unhealthy foods that feature their gluten free status front and center in hopes of luring in health conscious consumers.
The Fix: Consider a food’s gluten free status to be the starting criteria for evaluation, but continue to evaluate the food’s health merits with the same criteria you would for any other food choice. Look for added sugars, chemical preservatives, refined grains, and processed oils in deciding if an item deserves a spot on your plate.
3. Overlooking the Small Things
Removing obvious sources of gluten such as cereal, bread, pasta, and more can seem like a monumental task when you first begin a gluten free lifestyle, but these items are not the only place gluten is creeping into your diet. Foods like soup, salad dressings, sauces, pre-made burgers, and more can all have gluten hiding within their ingredient lists. Even a relatively small amount of gluten can be enough trigger symptoms in those with gluten intolerance and to prevent anyone from fully experiencing the benefits of a gluten free diet.
The Fix: Become well versed in all the names that can be used for these sneaky sources of gluten, such as malt, spelt, bulgur, and more. Avidly read labels to assure your foods are free from these ingredients.
4. Letting a Slip-Up Derail You
Accidentally, or even knowingly, slipping up and eating a food with gluten can happen to the most devout gluten free dieter. When this happens, it’s natural to want to throw in the towel and continue to eat gluten the rest of the day, week, or longer.
The Fix: Acknowledge your slip-up to yourself and give yourself grace. Don’t put off returning to your gluten free diet off until later; resolve to move forward with your gluten free lifestyle from that minute forward. Focus on the big picture and the reasons you are following a gluten free diet rather than letting your mistake become your focus.