Healthy Living, Special Diets on November 24, 2009 by

Advice for Gluten Free Newbies

GF LOGO CroppedSince joining the Bob’s Red Mill team five years ago, I’ve met my share of people who are newly diagnosed with celiac disease and others trying to get started eating gluten free. By now, I know the gist of what is important when you’re just getting started and always cringe when I meet people who tell me that they eat “mostly gluten free” and “cheat” when it’s something good, like birthday cake and pizza. I’m not a doctor, I’m just a person who has the privileged of meeting a lot of people on the gluten free diet. What I’ve learned is that everyone is different and the way gluten reacts in their system is different. So I asked all of our tweeps on Twitter to tell me what they feel is the most important advice for a newbie. I got a lot of great advice. In addition to these, I might add to be an advocate for yourself! You have the right to be happy and healthy. Let us know what you would tell a newbie to the gluten free diet in the comments section.

Here’s what our tweeps said:

  • @CandicePike: Only do it if you’ve already been tested for Celiac. Whether or not you have it, you can’t be tested after going gluten free
  • @CharityDas: be adventuresome, willing to try new things, explore new ingredients, new tastes, new stores, new ideas, ask for support.
  • @Allisonthemeep: Read labels, and make LOTS of calls to companies to verify gluten-free. Don’t trust stuff people post on internet forums.
  • @Joansweb: Advice: purchase Pocket Dictionary and Shelley Case’s book Gluten-Free Diet
  • @G8rSteph: Start simple by sticking with meats, fruits, and veggies for a while. #GlutenFree
  • @Oregon_SuNsHiNe: a newbie to the #gf diet should talk w/a dietician who specializes in celiac disease asap! Ours was so helpful & resourceful
  • @GTCrumpette: see if there is a GIG branch in ur area and attend a celiac 101 class. Also read gluten free girl.
  • @Laurabosak: Even though it’s expensive, but to buy finished products in the beginning and learn what flours appeal to your taste buds
  • @Megankillian: advice for folks going #gfree: make enough gfree food for dinner to use as lunch the next day! Carry snacks wherever u go!
  • @Achatel311: Best advice for newbies: “don’t be afraid to ask – the waiter, grocer, chef, family, whomever. ” #GlutenFree
  • @Stwaldo: Read labels! Seriously, gluten sneaks into everything – also, ask questins at restaurats, you’d be surprised what you learn!
  • @Archatel311: Best advice for newbies: “don’t be afraid to ask – the waiter, grocer, chef, family, whomever. “
  • @GingerCM: rule one. If you think you have celiac, do NOT go #glutenfree before an endoscopy. Test will be inacc.
  • @Sarahk47: Read Dr. Green’s book first thing!
  • @Playknice: For someone starting #gfree, I’d say to find the foods you *can* eat and enjoy them. Keep it positive, you won’t miss bread.
  • @MillerP: 1) Make a list of the food you already eat that is #gf. It’ll be longr than u think. 2) Forget about bread for a few months!
  • @Anile: Nail 1 great recipe and work your way up from there. Don’t try too much at once and get overwhelmed by “failure” Persevere 🙂
  • @Jayelldee:  Don’t have just gluten-free for one family member; use them for whole family. Brown rice pasta, Bob’s Baking Mix work well!


I just discovered that I’m allergic to a long list of things, gluten being one of them and as someone that LOVES to bake this has been a tough transition. I’m realizing that it’s best to be adventurous and try new foods rather than just think about all the foods I can’t have.

Christine says:

Some other things for newbies to remember:

1. Cross contamination is your worst enemy. Unfortunately in a restaurant you may not have any control over this, which is why newly diagnosed people shouldn’t eat out for awhile until they’ve healed and have done enough homework to find places where it’s safe to eat.

Cross contamination can happen at home, too. Don’t use your old toaster, buy a new one that is exclusively use for GF bread and bagels. Get a new strainer for pasta. Some people suggest throwing out all your pots, pans, bakeware, and utensils, but I disagree; buy some cheap toothbrushes, bleach, and SOS pads to scrub away any remaining crusty gluten remnants. Keep countertops clean and make sure that the rest of your family does likewise.

2. Explain to your friends and family that this isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity to make you well again. Some family members just can’t understand why there has to be a change. Be strong, and realize that you have to be your own advocate to make sure that you stay GF to stay healthy.

3. Don’t assume non-celiacs know what is or isn’t GF. I’ve heard of a dietician who told someone pie crust is GF as long as you ‘bake it thoroughly’. Ugh. For meetings, family events, wedding receptions, etc., don’t assume there will be something for you to eat. Call the caterers/meeting chair and ask if there can be something available. If not, bring your own; there’s a number of mainstream heat and eat items on the market that are also GF.

4. Don’t go out and buy tons of food just because it’s gluten free. Start with naturally GF starches like potatoes and rice, then work your way up. Mixes are a good way to start baking, that way you won’t have to buy tons of little bags of flour. Basic bread, brownies, and cookies are items to start with. It’ll take awhile for you to find your favorite brands.

5. Before you shop, make a list of the items you usually buy, then go online or call the company to find out if the product is GF. Many companies have lists of GF products that you can print and bring with you when you shop. That way you don’t have to spend tons of time reading labels in the grocery store.

6. Last, I’ll repeat one thing written above; find a local support group! It can be amazingly helpful to have a community of people going through the same thing. Check online or call your local hospital or GI doctor for a local group.


Christy says:

Don’t forget to make sure your cosmetics are gluten free. Double check with the manufacturer about all your lotions, chapstick, make-up, shampoos etc! Your skin is the largest organ…

Henrique says:

First of all, THANKS!! For all the great tips, you all are posting here! They defiantly help in point us the in the right direction and help us in getting started!
I am adventuring into a new path and would like to know if you can help.
After my aunt was diagnostic with Celiac and I was in the process of starting a new career, she came to me and suggested that I started a Gluten Free Deli where the focus would be fresh pasta, pizza and cakes.

For the past month, I have dived in to this world and have made some very successful trials and some classic failures…
One of my failure was an attempt to create a great tasting fresh pasta with the fallowing flours, rice, potato starch, cassava starch, chia, flaxseed flour and xanthan gum… The result when I cocked in boiling water was an increase by 4X on the thickness of the pasta… Moreover, I can´t find the rezone behind it… 
The success was a “simple” pasta (rice, potato starch, cassava starch, xanthan and guar gums) with lemon zest and turmeric).
My questions are:
1- Can I use only one type of gum and get great results or do I have to combine?
a. If a mix what is the best proportion?
2- What would be the best gum for fresh pasta? Guar, Xanthan, CMC…
3- Do you have a guide for gluten free fresh pasta and functional food?
Thanks once again.

All the best

Hi Henrique,

Here are our answers-
1. No, you can just use one.
2. I’d recommend xanthan gum for the best pasta texture.
3. We do not have a guide for gluten free fresh pasta, but this recipe looks great: I am not sure what you mean by functional foods, but we have lots of recipes at

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