How To Go Gluten Free in 5 Steps

Holli Lapes, RD, LD/N

In recent years, going gluten-free has become trendy and is even used as a marketing tactic in the food industry.

While it is true that gluten could just be another buzz word in some contexts, there are certainly valid health reasons to avoid gluten, including celiac disease.

One of the main reasons people should avoid gluten, aside from celiac disease, is if they have gluten sensitivity. 1

This article is for people who are ready to initiate a gluten-free diet. Still need to learn more about gluten? Check out our article from yesterday: Gluten FAQ.

1. Become familiar with which grains are gluten-free and which are not

Gluten-containing grains include wheat, rye, barley, malt, spelt and kamut.2,3 Also, there could be some cross contamination with other grains such as oats, unless otherwise marked as gluten free.

Others that you will want to avoid: bulgur, couscous, durum, matzah, semolina, triticale.4 Triticale is an example of a cross hybrid, made from wheat and rye.4 Gluten free grains include millet, oats, quinoa (technically a seed), rice, wild rice, sorghum and teff.

2. Rid your kitchen of any gluten and prepare to restock with the staples

Missed spring cleaning this year? That’s okay. Here is your opportunity to finally sort through your stock. You’ll want to discard the obvious items such as wheat flour but also practice your label reading (this will help you during step 4, too!).

Be wary of hidden gluten; check your fridge, cabinets and pantry for items that you wouldn’t think have gluten or gluten-derived ingredients, but do. For example, the first ingredient in soy sauce is usually wheat! Check any packaged and processed items such as snacks, cereals, sauces and salad dressing.

3. Find 2 weeks’ worth of gluten-free recipes and make a shopping list

There are tons of recipes online at your disposal both online and in cookbooks. Use this as an opportunity to try some new foods!

Always wondered what quinoa tastes like? Here is your chance to incorporate this nutrient-rich, grain-like food into your diet. A gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be a starch-free or grain-free diet.

Corn and potatoes are starchy vegetables that can help you satisfy that desire. Meats, legumes, fruits and vegetables in their whole food state will naturally be free of gluten. Maybe a GF diet will even help you meet your 5-7 serving of fruit and vegetables daily!

4. Shop to restock your staples and get the ingredients for your recipes

Depending on where you live, you may find that your neighborhood grocery store has a gluten-free section. If not, consider going to specialty stores or ordering online. You’ll soon become familiar with gluten-free brands.

Be forewarned that some packaged gluten-free products like waffles, pasta and crackers may not taste the same as the gluten-containing foods you are used to. They will likely even have a different texture. It may be a process of trial and error but in time, after trying a few variations perhaps, you will have your go-to gluten free waffles. Or, of course, you can make your own!

It can be a challenge finding gluten-free bread, they might be in the frozen section. Be ready to get creative — a sandwich using gluten-free pancakes as the bread, anyone? GF crackers make a nice complement to deli meat and provide that starchy element you may be used to.

5. Master a gluten-free lifestyle outside of your home

Now that your home is a gluten-free safe haven, you’ll need to find ways to stay committed when going out. A starting-off point is raising awareness to those closest to you. Your family and friends may not understand until you explain it to them.

Keep in mind that some may be more understanding than others. Focus on the positives rather than the restrictive aspect, let them know how much better you feel or will feel. Eating out has become much easier now that more and more restaurants are recognizing the need to have a GF menu or section of their menu.

As an added precaution; let the wait staff know that you have an allergy, as the term sensitivity may not resonate the same way. Do your research, check the menu online or call ahead before committing to a location.


  1. Available at: Accessed August 2, 2016.
  2. Available at: Accessed August 2, 2016.
  3. Available at: Accessed August 2, 2016.
  4. Available at: Accessed August 8, 2016.


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