Tips for Getting Started on a Gluten Free/Casein Free Diet

Starting a gluten free and casein free diet can be pretty daunting, so we’ve compiled some tips for making the transition a bit easier.

  1. Know the common sources of gluten and casein. Print it out and keep it in your wallet or put it on your smart phone for handy reference.
  • Gluten:
    • Wheat (including Spelt/Kamut/Triticale)
    • Rye
    • Barley
    • Pasta
    • Bread
    • Couscous
    • Pancakes
    • Flour
    • Cookies, Crackers and other Baked Goods
  • Casein:
    • Milk (including Cream)
    • Butter
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Sour Cream
    • Cottage cheese
    • Ice cream
    • Salad dressing (Ranch, Blue Cheese, etc)
    • Creamed soups
  1. Be aware of the hidden sources of gluten and casein, such as soy sauce and natural flavors. There is a great list to get you started here.
  2. Get used to reading labels. Take your time and examine the ingredient list of a product. Don’t just rely on allergen statements, but really look at what is listed. Labels change, so check frequently to be sure that the company hasn’t changed the label or the way the ingredient is made. If you’re really not sure, call the company.
  3. Be your own advocate and take the diet seriously. Don’t cheat and don’t let others think a little gluten or casein is okay. Yes, we know it’s hard to pass up that luscious piece of chocolate cake, but if you don’t take it seriously, how will others? This means standing up for yourself at restaurants and family gatherings. Treat your new diet as you would a serious food allergy. A little bit can derail all the work you’ve been putting into healing your body.
  4. Plan ahead. If you’re eating out, call ahead to the restaurant and find out what their policy is for food allergens and find out what you can eat on their menu. If you can’t eat anything and they’re not willing to work with you, find a different restaurant. This goes for family gatherings and catered events. If you can’t get around attending the event, eat beforehand or bring your own, safe food.
  5. Bring back-up food. Always keep snacks that you can eat on hand for those times when there is no safe option. If you have to eat somewhere that is not going to work with you to ensure your safety, bring your own food or eat ahead of time- even if it’s your mother-in-law’s house or a fancy dining establishment. You deserve to eat safely.
  6. Finally, find an ally. Whether it is your partner or just a friend who “gets it” find someone you can talk to about the challenges of your new diet and share a meal with when you just want to eat in peace. Someone who will help advocate for you when the going gets tough and understands that you are not just “picky.”

Did we miss something? Tell us in the comments what other advice you’d offer someone just getting started on the GF/CF diet.


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