A Gluten-Free Diet for Chronic Pain Series – Part 3 – Gluten-Free Diets Are Safe, Tasty, Socially Acceptable, and Fun!

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In part 1 of our 5-part series, we discussed what gluten really is and why you should avoid it.  In part 2, we discussed how to go gluten-free without losing your mind or breaking the bank.

 

In part 3, we’ll discuss how you can adopt a gluten-free diet without worrying about how your new healthy lifestyle will look to others!

 

Common Question 1: Don’t I need to eat gluten? If I stop, won’t I get sick?

 

No. We do not need gluten in our diets for any reason. Gluten, in and of itself, offers no nutritional value.

 

Unfortunately, one study suggested that people who adopted a gluten-free diet without having celiac disease could be endangering their health. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

What about whole grains? Not to worry! There are a TON of gluten-free whole grains you can enjoy every day to get the fiber and nutrition you need to stay healthy.

 

Here is a list of gluten-free whole grains compiled by two registered dieticians for The Mayo Clinic.

 

  • Amaranth

 

 

About the size of a poppy seed, this pseudo-grain has a light peppery taste. For a nutritious breakfast cereal, add milk, fruit, and a bit of honey.

 

  • Buckwheat

 

Buckwheat Pasta

 

Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. It is a pseudo-grain with an earthy flavor that makes a good pepper stuffing when mixed with lentils, herbs, and a bit of goat cheese. You can also use buckwheat flour to make gluten-free pancakes.

 

  • Millet

 

Gluten-Free Bread Made With Millet and Buckwheat

 

Millet is approximately the size of a small mustard seed, and it boasts a mild flavor that makes a great base for a salad. If you toast millet in a hot pan before boiling, you will get a nuttier flavor out of this gluten-free whole grain. Millet is also an excellent rice, ground meat, and stuffing substitute for both main and side dishes.

 

  • Teff

 

 

This tiny grain has a nutty and earthy flavor with a texture similar to that of Cream of Wheat. Teff flour is a suitable gluten-free thickening agent for soups and can also be used to make pancakes.

 

  • Quinoa

 

 

Quinoa is pseudo-grain that must be rinsed well before cooking to remove bitter-tasting saponins. Quinoa cooks in just 15 minutes and is delicious served hot or cold. Use it as a base for a cold salad or as a breakfast cereal topped with fruit and honey. You can also use quinoa instead of bulgur to make tabbouleh.

 

Common Question 2: Won’t I have to give up my favorite foods?

 

No, you won’t have to give up your favorite foods. On a gluten-free diet, you can still eat bread, bagels, pasta, pizza, beer, cookies, candy, and chocolate cake—you just have to find the gluten-free alternatives to these foods and there are PLENTY out there!

 

Common Question 3: Will I ever be able to eat out with my friends again?

 

No longer being able to socialize during meals with friends is a very common reason even those with celiac disease refuse to go gluten-free even though gluten is literally killing them! That’s how strong our instinct is to fit in with our fellow man!

 

The good news is, you’ll never have to sit at a restaurant eating a plain bowl of spinach while everyone eats fried foods galore and stares at you like you have three heads like I did back in the early 2000s. (That was horrible.)

 

It won’t happen to you because there are TONS of restaurants who cater to gluten-free diets now. Plus, there are three FREE apps you can download on your phone right now that will instantly tell you where you can eat and what you can eat when you get there.

 

These apps are:

 

 

This user-friendly app allows you to search by selecting from the top 10 allergens (wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts). It also provides peer-reviewed feedback on how well (or how poorly) a restaurant can accommodate the needs of diners with food sensitivities. You can even find a restaurant while you’re out and about by using the “Find Near Me” option. 

 

 

This allergy-friendly app allows you to find and read detailed peer reviews of thousands of “gluten-free-friendly” business across the United States and around the world. Not only will you find accommodating restaurants, you’ll also be able to search for gluten-free bakeries, markets, hotels, B&Bs, cruises, and even colleges.

 

 

 

This app helps you find gluten-free dining options by entering a specific location or browsing popular chain restaurants. It will even take you to each individual restaurant’s website, so you can have a look at the gluten-free menu before you dine!

 

Stay tuned!

 

In part 4 of our 5-part series, we discuss how to access gluten-free food without leaving home!

 

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About Author: Jaime A. Heidel

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