The Pantry and the Fridge

Now, we’ll start with the most obvious place: your food.

If you have celiacs, an allergy, or are gluten intolerant, you have to remember that you’ll need to be more strict than someone who is going on a gluten free diet for other health reasons. You have to deal with cross-contamination issues that other people don’t. Also, your body is healing after years of damage, so you won’t be able to stomach as much. Get it? Stomach? Ok, so bad pun, but it’s true. Since your intestines aren’t working well, you will be more sensitive to certain foods for a while until things are working better. It’s smart to stay away from food that is spicy, hard to digest, and are acidic. Also, it’s probably a good idea to not eat many products that are replacements for gluten items (e.g. gluten free pasta, cake mixes, bread, etc). They aren’t really easy to digest and aren’t nearly as nutritious as other things. Always talk to your doctor or a dietitian, but many people believe that you should be eating plain meat, veggies, and fruit. The logic is that your body isn’t absorbing nutrients like it should, so anything you can put in your body needs to try to make up for that fact. Depressing, I know.

Keeping that in mind, let’s start with the pantry.

What I did was take three boxes and a trash bag and set it next to me. One is labeled “To Keep,” one is labeled “To Give Away,” one is labeled “Don’t Know” and one is, well, a trash bag. All foods that goes back into the pantry put in the keep box and the food that you can no longer eat but it still good to give to friends or donate goes in the other box. There will be a list of items that might be fine, but you’ll have to contact the manufacturer to see, so they go in the “Don’t Know” box.

So, let’s start with the obvious: bread, pasta, cereal, and wheat flour is out. If you are like me, you don’t even want to touch it at this point! Bye bye evil gluten!

Next, let’s look at your spice rack. Any spice that contains just itself as an ingredient (e.g. oregano) is probably fine. The only issue of cross contamination would have been if you used the same measuring spoons in them as you had with flour or something else containing gluten. Throw it away if you are uncertain. Many seasoning mixes (e.g. Italian mix, grilled poultry mix, etc) contain either MALTODEXTRIN or DEXTROSE. Get rid of those. Both ingredients can be made from wheat, but not necessarily. There isn’t a good way of knowing. Some people say that if you purchase them in the United States that they should be fine, but I get bad stomach cramps when I eat them sometimes, so I stay away altogether.

Now, go through each item in your pantry. Things you need to look out for are the standard hidden ingredients:

Modified Food Starch
Natural and Artificial flavors
Oats (because it’s shipped on the same equipment as other grains)
Vinegar (except Distilled, Wine, or Apple Cider)

A more complete list is located here: Unsafe Ingredients List

If the only questionable ingredient is maltodextrin, dextrose, or the flavoring you can put then in the “Don’t Know” box to contact the manufacturer later to see.

Repeat the same steps you did with your pantry on your fridge. It’s important to remember about cross-contamination. Your butter, for example, you probably used the same knife to spread it on bread as you did to cut it with. Keep it in mind.

Once you are done, clean the shelves just to remove any traces of flour or gluten that might be hanging around.

Step back and admire your work.

Looks really bare, huh?!?

That’s ok, before you know it, it will be full of yummy gluten-free food and now you can rest easy knowing that your food won’t hurt you. Celebrate your victory! You’re one step closer!

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