Ok, you have eaten your last intentional bite of gluten and began to grieve the loss of some of your favorite dishes. You’re starting to feel a bit of acceptance and an internal push to take action. Let’s head to the kitchen.
Should you take every piece of food and throw it straight into trash bags and then rush to the nearest health food store and refill the shelves with all new gluten free items? Or maybe you should force everyone in the house onto strict gluten free diets and ban all gluten from the home and possibly post no gluten signs in every room.
Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets
We don’t recommend you do any of those things!
You probably will need to purge some gluten items from your kitchen, but how many depends on who is in your “Town”.
My mom had let me move in with her because of my health issues so we went through the cupboards together and she grabbed the stuff she wanted to eat and we got rid of anything else that was questionable.
You may feel the urge to get rid of everything, but if you have someone willing to support you this is a good opportunity to let your loved ones contribute and feel involved!
In our home cleaning the food out of the cupboards organically led into reorganizing the shelves and figuring out which ones would be gluten free, just mine, and community gluten free.
Obviously if you live alone you don’t have to worry about these issues and can just focus on organizing things. On the other hand if you have children, roomates, or individuals that are around during the cleaning process, you may have to make some decisions on your own and then do some teaching later on to educate about your decisions.
This all may seem like a lot to do, but try to remind yourself this is your health and you need to do certain things to take care of yourself. Celiac and gluten disorders only have one treatment and that is a gluten free diet.
These are the things we do instead of taking medications to manage our disease, but they are just as important as medications.
• Throw away open foods no one else wants
• Check expiration dates and donate good food items
• Wipe down/ clean all the kitchen shelves while you have the food out to remove any flour dust or gluten crumbs.
• Designate certain shelves to be for gluten free (GF) items only.
• The GF shelves should be high shelves because you don’t want gluten dust/ crumbs falling from above onto the GF areas.
• Get your own GF Peanut Butter, label it GF and keep it on your shelf. A knife touching bread and then redipping is enough to trigger an autoimmune reaction to gluten. See here for more information on cross contamination.
Getting rid of gluten will also spread to the refrigerator which should be cleaned out the same way you clean out the cupboards. We had an easier time with the refrigertor because it’s smaller and has more fresh foods that are gluten free.
I was able to get a drawer and a shelf as designated gluten free spaces in my refrigerator, but for many people getting your own GF space may be difficult. When dealing with food from the refrigerator it’s important to check labels each and every time you pull out food.
This is a good habit to get into when you eat anything, but I find the freezer/ refrigerator are especially important because other people are using the condiments and moving items around.
• Get condiments in squeeze bottles! If your mayonnaise, mustard, relish, etc are in jars you need to worry about cross contamination.
• Get your own separate butter and jelly and label them gluten free. Spreading butter on bread and then using the same knife to get more butter can transfer crumbs into the butter and cause cross contamination. Replace any condiment jars with new GF versions that have been dipped into after touching gluten.
• Wipe down/ clean the shelves and drawers in your refrigerator to remove traces of gluten and crumbs.
Ok, your cabinets and fridge are clean and practically empty, is it time to fill them up with all the great new GF foods? The answer is Yes… and NO.
Initially it is important to have foods available so you aren’t tempted to eat gluten foods because there isn’t GF food available. There’s also an emotional need to know that in a world where so many foods have been taken away, there are new foods out there to replace them.
Basically, nobody wants to feel like they will be living in a constant state of deprivation, especially while watching your loved ones continue to eat anything they want. So for this reason the answer is yes, go ahead and buy some gluten free foods.
Why is the answer also a No? It’s a don’t go crazy filling your cabinets with tons of stuff at one time. There are a couple things to keep in mind when buying gluten free.
First, not everything marked gluten free IS gluten free. What?! I know it’s annoying, but it has improved a lot since the 2014 Gluten Labeling law.
After checking if food is labeled gluten free, always check for the Made in a Facility with Wheat label or any other suspicious writing that negates the gluten free claim… like May contain wheat. If the product is certified gluten free you should be ok.
If it’s not certified and it’s made in a facility with wheat… it may have gluten.
Second, not all gluten free food is healthy. Before you fill up the cupboards with tons of gluten free stuff, be aware that gluten free isn’t synonymous with healthy. I’m not saying you can only buy kale and superfoods from now on.
Buy what you want and enjoy it. People assume GF is healthy but there are a lot of low nutrient and low fiber products out there because sometimes when you remove the wheat, you lose the nutrients.
What food to Buy?
In the future I will recommend some of my favorite foods and brands here. In the beginning the most important thing is to get any gluten free foods you like so that you have meals available.
If you need fast and convenient meals until you get your kitchen items safe for cooking I will recommend some frozen meals that can be bought at. Target, Costco, or grocery stores soon.
Once your ready I recommend eating fresh naturally gluten free foods as much as possible. Foods like eggs, milk, fruits, and vegetables. Meats also fall into this category; however, you may need to watch out for added seasoning and fillers and read about cross contamination at the deli counter before buying meats.
There are a lot of gluten free sandwich meats, preseasoned hamburgers, sausages, etc so don’t worry this is something you can still enjoy without too much hassle. Of course, you can also buy meat and then season them yourself at home.
Now that you have some healthy fresh foods, it’s time to go out and figure out which gluten free food you like! What brand of bread should you try?
There are a ton and they all used to taste bad… But now there are some really good ones out there. What cereals, snacks, pancakes, etc? There are so many options out there and it’s very hit or miss with taste, consistency, etc when it comes to gluten free food but I will try to provide some clarity and introduce you to some of my favorite foods here.
I will also introduce you to some of the more established gluten free companies that are always reliable for safe GF food because I really enjoy being able to buy foods without stressing out over the ingredients label.
These companies have hard earned reputation in our community and deserve recognition for always providing us with safe GF labeled foods, even before the law required it.