How to Go Gluten Free

So you need to go gluten free, now what? What is gluten?  Gluten is an elastic protein found in wheat, rye, barley, durum, graham, semolina, bulgar, wheat, and spelt.  Many people think that to go gluten free simply means to cut out wheat or just bread from their diet.  Unfortunately, it is a lot more complicated.  Gluten is sneaky as it is an ingredient that is in a lot of processed foods.  The common forbidden foods to stay away from are breads, muffins, bread crumbs, bagels, donuts, croissants, cereal, pizza, fried foods, pasta, crackers, cookies, pretzels, cake, brownies, pie crust, birthday cake, waffles and even beer.  When I found out that I myself had a gluten allergy, I thought this latter list eliminated all my favorite foods.  Well what the heck was I to do?
I tested positive to a gluten and dairy allergy.  My reaction to gluten and dairy is a full body rash with blisters and hives and complete itchiness.  If I wanted my skin to clear up, I had to do this right.
I am very black and white.  Yes or No.  I work well with rules.  At home, I threw out all of the obvious culprits.  In my case I also threw out all butters, cream cheeses, yogurts, and milk as I had also tested positive to a dairy allergy.  I’m not allergic to the sugar in dairy (lactose), but the protein in dairy (whey and casein).  I needed to get the temptation off of my shelves.
My first lesson, I started eating foods that were naturally gluten free.  I went to the grocery store and just filled my cart with tons of fruits and veggies and protein like beef, chicken, turkey and fish.  Seemed simple enough for me.  To avoid mistakes in the beginning I stayed away from anything labeled “gluten free” and processed or packaged in a box.  I cooked using only fresh herbs, salt and pepper and used starches like corn, rice, brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and quinoa.
I still made mistakes along the way, again, because gluten is a hidden ingredient in things like soy sauce, marinades, gravy, broths, canned soups, salad dressings, sausage, hot dogs, jerky and chocolate.  I would eat sushi and dip it in soy sauce and get hives.  I would make a salad and use store bought salad dressings and get my rash back.  I marinaded my chicken while at work and get hives and blisters before bed.
Herein my next lesson, hard learned and I extend to you.  Start reading labels and become a gluten detective because it is not always obvious.  The vernacular on labels is wheat, wheat flour/ bread flour/bleached flour, wheat protein/ hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat starch/hydrolyzed wheat starch, wheat germ.  But I had to learn its other “pseuudonyms” like Triticum vulgare (wheat), Tritcale (cross between wheat and rye), Hordeum vulgare (barley), Secale Cereale (rye), Triticum spelta (spelt, a form of wheat), bulgur (another form of wheat), Malt (made from barley), Couscous (made from wheat), Farina (made from wheat), Pasta (made from wheat unless indicated), Seitan (made from wheat and used in vegetarian meals), wheat or barley grass (will be cross contaminated), wheat germ oil or extract (will be cross contaminated).  If you research further, you will learn that even ingredients like vegetable protein (wheat, corn or soy), modified starch (wheat). modified food starch (wheat), natural flavors (barley), Artificial flavor (barley), hydroloyzed plant protein/ HPP, Hydrolyzed vegetable protein/ HVP, seasonings and flavorings can be made from wheat.  You have to read the labels and when in doubt, do not buy it or eat it.  For me, it is easy to know when I have ingested it because I break out in a rash with hives within minutes.  I will still be eating the meal and I will know if gluten is in it.  So it is absolutely important to read labels assiduously.
Overall, I have made my home gluten/dairy free.  Everything in my pantry and fridge is as suitable for me as I can make it.   Hopefully nothing will exacerbate my allergy.  This is very important to maintain in your home.  My home is a safe zone for me.  If you have allergies, you will understand this.   This did not happen overnight, it takes a few weeks to months to get into the swing of things.  To this day I am still learning.  My skin has cleared up.   I do have flare ups from time to time.  My outbreaks occur on my extremities mostly and my face.  So I am careful.  It is unusual as I live in Florida, to be wearing pants and long sleeves in order to cover up my rash, blister, hive covered skin.  Yes, I am vain.


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