by Val Vaartnou
So you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and you worry that there will be nothing to eat because “everything” contains gluten. Yes, gluten does lurk everywhere, but there are great foods that you can enjoy and get the added benefits of reducing your inflammation in the body while eating for your health.
Keeping it simple is one of the first recommendations that I make to anyone diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in as many colors as you can find and eating lots of lean meats is the best start. Your kitchen staples should include staples that are readily available to give you a varied diet.
Note: Grain, nuts, and seeds have the most risk of cross-contamination from gluten of all foods. In the field, during processing and packaging, the processes must be monitored to ensure gluten does not contaminate them. Ensure the manufacturer has marked grains, nuts, and seeds as gluten-free on the packaging.
Dairy products are fine unless you are also lactose intolerant. Aged cheeses and low sugar yogurts, especially greek yogurts are less problematic. Goat yogurts and cheeses are sometimes good alternatives.
Fresh fruits: In the winter, pomegranates, apples, pears, bananas, and in my freezer for smoothies, frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, cherries and blackberries!). During the summer, visit the farmer’s market and enjoy the fresh fruits of the season.
Fresh herbs: like ginger, turmeric, chives, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and basil. I cook with them and throw them in my salad, too. Cilantro and parsley are great as they help to detoxify the body.
Fresh veggies: Spinach, chard, kale, arugula, beets, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. radishes, jicama, scallions, and fennel for my salad. Again the farmer’s market is great to pick up fresh local vegetables.
Healthy fats: Avocado, olives, oils (avocado, coconut, olive), ghee (check out online recipes to make your own), seeds (chia, hemp, flax, pumpkin or sunflower seed), full-fat coconut milk.
Healthy grains: Quinoa and wild rice are my favorites. Try some different grains for variety, for example, millet, teff, and sorghum. If you are very strict on your gluten-free diet and still find your symptoms continue, you may find that the elimination of all grains is required. Eliminate them all for a few weeks and then reintroduce each grain, one at a time, eating it daily for a few days. Listen to your body and your symptoms. You may find you can tolerate some grains better than others.
Healthy proteins: Turkey, chicken, salmon, sardines, mung beans, adzuki beans, lentils (again marked gluten-free by the manufacturer), hummus (chickpeas).
Healthy snacks: Whole nuts and seeds, or nut butters (cashews, almonds, Brazil, macadamia, coconut, sunflower, walnut), nori (seaweed), 70% or higher dark chocolate.
Spices and condiments: Cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, coriander, turmeric,
ginger, black pepper, sea salt and dried herbs.
Pantry staples: canned beans (chickpeas, kidney, and black), canned tuna and salmon, gluten-free minimally-processed crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers for example), artichoke hearts, sardines.
Gluten-free processed foods are fine for treats but should not be the foundation of your diet. Unfortunately, gluten-free foods are often high in fats, sugars, and salt so reading the nutritional label is always required, not just to ensure there is no gluten, but to ensure that you are not eating empty calories.