There are many reasons that people decide to go gluten-free, dairy free, or even both. Not only people suffering from dairy or gluten allergies or digestive inflammation go for dairy and/or gluten-free diet, but many also opt for this diet based on the health benefits it brings.
Dairy and the gluten-free diet have become known as the “anti-inflammatory diet” because it takes care of bloating, diarrhea, gas, acne, and my other digestive symptoms. Furthermore, dairy and gluten-free diet can also help manage many non-digestive symptoms such as itchiness, skin rashes, dandruff, and mental fogging.
However, many consider going gluten and dairy free difficult, but actually, there are and more gluten and dairy free options available in the market every day because the food world is full of delicious alternatives.
So, if you are just starting out going dairy and gluten-free and having difficulties, this post is all about guiding a smooth transition for going gluten and dairy-free for beginners. So, let’s get into it.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a form of protein known as a prolamin, commonly found in the endosperm of grains such as barley, wheat, and rye. Gluten, as the name suggests, is the “glue” that holds baked-goods together and is best known and widely used for its stretchy quality.
What is Dairy?
Dairy denotes the milk produced by mammals, like cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, and even camel’s milk. Cow milk is the most allergenic and most common while also being the most consumed type of milk in Canada and the United States. Dairy can be found in a vast majority of products, including milk, cream, kefir, yogurt, butter, and cheese. Eggs, however, are not considered dairy foods, though they are commonly found in the dairy section of most grocery stores.
Yes, you read it right. Leaving every bit of your regular diet at once is one of the biggest mistakes that people make when they attempt to go dairy or gluten free. Not only it becomes difficult to manage everyday meals, but this strategy can potentially cause serious health concerns. So, the first step is to go slow and build your routine because it will inevitably result is a smooth and healthy transition.
Try to stick with whole foods as much as possible
Many people who try to go dairy and gluten free wind up eating even more unhealthy junk than they used. It is because most people staring on this journey rend to rely on packaged products with the gluten-free, dairy-free labels. But you got to understand that solely relying on this strategy won’t get you healthier.
What you need to do is to try and consume more whole foods. This change will provide the best opportunity to add healthier foods into your diet, such as fruits, whole grains, fresh vegetables, nuts and seeds, and lean meats. I know you might be thinking that going this path seems kind of boring, but with the time you will learn to be creative with your food without compromising on health.
Here are some examples of naturally gluten and dairy-free whole foods:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Meat, poultry, and seafood
- Legumes and grains (stay away from barley, rye, and wheat, and be careful of cross-contamination)
- Nuts and seeds
Find some great resources catering to dairy-free and gluten-free living
Another major thing that can help your transition significantly smoother is to be surrounded by people who live by the same rules. Most people don’t pay attention to it, but trust me, not only it will enhance your knowledge about dairy and gluten free diet, ingredients and recipes but it will also build your confidence and save you from feeling down at many times.
Make use of gluten and dairy free recipe books
Most beginners feel that their cooking and eating will become limited, but it is not actually true. All you have to do is to get your hand on an abundance of recipes you can make at home. So, purchase some cookbooks that specialize in gluten-free dairy-free recipes and visit websites that have plenty of delicious and easy recipes to make at home.
Find some restaurant options in your area that offer good-quality gluten and dairy free delicacies
Eating out is one of the most challenging issues for people having food sensitivities. However, many restaurants offer vegan, dairy, and gluten free options, and this number is only increasing day by day. So, all you have to do is to prepare a list of coffee shops and restaurants where you will find tasty and good gluten-free dairy-free options. Though it will take a bit time to find the places you would like, but once you do, they will become your go-to places for when you want to eat out.
You can take the internet’s help to search out for restaurants that cater to gluten and dairy free individuals in your area and city and make shortlists to try out around 2 in a week.
Get to know the dairy and gluten ingredients and make a habit of reading labels
Gluten and dairy have many names, and most of them are pretty tricky. So, it is a difficult job to learn all dairy and gluten ingredients. However, knowing these ingredients will be a lifesaver when reading food labels and even on restaurant menus. So, you can learn the names of some of the most commonly used gluten and dairy products for beginners and then increase your gluten and dairy vocabulary with time. A good tip is to make lists or take along cards to make sure you can avoid them.
Make a habit of reading labels when you go for shopping and try to avoid products that contain artificial flavors because they typically feature dairy origins.
Get to know the gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives in details
Just as knowing gluten and dairy products is essential; knowing gluten and dairy free alternatives in detail are also crucial. It is because you should know what you are adding to your diet because every gluten and dairy free ingredient does not mean that it does not have any health concern or is entirely safe to consume for everyone.
For example, soy is considered one good alternative for milk. However, extensive research contends that soy milk and soy products can be an endocrine and reproductive system disruptor and potentially do more harm than good, especially for people suffering from thyroid disorders. So, do your research before adopting any alternative of food that you are leaving because you should know what you are putting on your plate.
Here are some safe alternatives for you:
Replacements for wheat flour:
- Almond flour
- Rice flour
- Coconut flour
- Oat flour (be sure they are certified gluten free oats)
- Cassava flour
- Sweet potato flour
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour
- Quinoa flour
Replacements for milk:
- Nut Milk (Almond milk/cashew milk/hemp milk)
- Oat milk (again, make sure they’re gluten-free oats)
- Coconut milk
Plan your menus for easy and consistent meals
Many beginners experience meltdowns and feel that they don’t have much to work with or eat because of excluding dairy and gluten ingredients. So, become a menu planner and plan out what meals you will be making and enjoying throughout the week. Having a weekly plan will save you from a lot of trouble and possible tears if you plan to go this road unprepared.
How to enjoy snacks when going gluten and dairy-free?
Going dairy and gluten free means to say goodbye to a lot of junk food which we typically call sacks and consume heavily in our daily lives. But you know what, snacks don’t have to be limited to processed, pre-packaged stuff. Whole foods make delicious, quick, healthy, and cost-effective snacks. So, next time you have snack craving, consider choosing:
- Fruit and nut butter
- Small sweet potato
In case you do pick pre-packaged processed foods for a snack, don’t forget to read labels. Snacks labeled as ‘vegan’ or ‘paleo’ are often safest but, still don’t forget to double check and with the time you’ll start to notice certain brands that are recognized for being gluten and dairy-free.
Both dairy and gluten are common allergens and can cause different issues in many people. Therefore, many people go dairy-free and gluten-free or both to help manage food sensitivities, chronic disease, and inflammation.
However, there is no need to feel limited by going dairy and gluten because there is still an abundance of food you can eat and enjoy whether its natural or processed food and their number is only growing with time. Just remember to go slow and consume real foods and as little of processed food as possible and never forget to read labels when buying packaged food items.