I’ve been gluten free for a little over 2 years now. It all started when I was telling a friend about reoccurring eczema that I couldn’t get to go away, and a constant feeling of being bloated no matter how little I ate. She told me that bloating was one the main symptoms of a gluten intolerance and advised that I go Gluten Free for 3 months.
So I set out to step away from my whole wheat/whole grain way of eating and switch over to a gluten free lifestyle. Back then it was a lot harder as most restaurants didn’t have G-Free menus, and chef’s didn’t have the training they do now. One restaurant told me the steak had meat–and would that be ok for me? I can’t tell you how many other answers like this I got. It took a lot of work on my end, and I often became the butt of many jokes every time I dined out with friends as I would harass the poor server with a thousand and one questions.
My local grocery store also didn’t have row after row of G-Free options. I mean one trip to Whole Foods and I’m pretty much set these days. Not to mention many bakeries and coffee shops even have G-Free cupcakes, cakes, and sweets now. So anyways I get asked a lot of questions about being G-Free these days so here is a quick guide of my favorite brands and food options and also some things you would have never thought would have Gluten.
Bread- In this category hands down my favorite brand would be Udi’s! I highly recommend toasting it, as it makes it super good! My kids can’t tell the difference when I use Udi’s.
Pasta- Tinkyada is by far my favorite brand! It cooks great and we find the shells are the best ones!
Hot Dogs- Yes many brands use gluten as a filler
Cereal- These are great options because the kids will eat them too and it will eliminate the need to get multiple things.
Pizza- This is a fast option that you can add some veggies too and have a quick meal. Bella Monica Flat Bread Pizza is a favorite!
Pancakes- I was worried about Saturday morning breakfasts and after trying out a few brands Pamela’s ended up being our favorite!
In regards to eating out these are some of the places that are G-Free Friendly and actually taste pretty good!
Willow Street Pizza has great G-Free Pizza
Kara’s Cupcakes has delicious G-Free Cupcakes
If you’re on the go and need a quick bite Starbucks has KIND bars which are G-Free
Erik’s Deli has Udi’s bread that you can use in all the sandwiches. Make sure you tell them to toast it or it won’t be good!
PF Chang’s make Chinese Food an option again with a G-Free menu!
Outback Steakhouse is one of the only places that has G-Free ranch, and it has a great G-Free menu.
Le Quy in Campbell is one of the few places that has a G-Free menu for Pho, and Curry dishes!
Crepes Cafe in Menlo Park has G-Free options. Make sure you ask for it though.
San Francisco Soup Company- Menu is updated daily on the web and gluten-free soups are shown with a (G). They also have (V) for Vegetarian and (D) for Dairy-free.
You can always use YELP and search for “Gluten Free” in your area for more options. The key is going to be communication and talking to the staff or calling before to see if they have what you’re looking for.
-Things that have gluten that you don’t think about-
*People on a gluten-free diet need a sharp eye for labels. Some ingredient red flags are obvious, like wheat, wheat gluten, barley, or rye. But some foods have “stealth” gluten. Two terms to watch for are malt (which is made from barley) and hydrolyzed vegetable protein (it often contains wheat). And while oats do not contain gluten, they may also increase symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
- Soy Sauce- it’s filled with Gluten. As is any dish that is made with it. Most Chinese foods, Oriental Salad dressings, etc are out unless they come off a G-Free menu that has been substituted with G-Free soy sauce. I carry a bottle in my car for going out.
- Sushi- This one hurts! Many places use “grain vinegar” instead of rice vinegar to make their sticky rice. So be an advocate for yourself and figure out what is in your food.
- Fries- Yup you’d think it’s potatoes, but it’s not. Often they are coated in wheat and seasoning that are not G-Free.
- Seasoning- A lot of seasoned salts have barely or malt. So ask places to just season with plain salt and vinegar.
- Beer- Straight Gluten. Look for G-Free Beer to substitute.
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There is lots more information on this topic. If you have questions let me know and I’ll help where I can. This isn’t intended to be health advice or diagnoses. Just sharing my personal G-Free journey and my recommendations! Talk to your doctor or physician and make the choices that are best for you and your health.
-Here are a few more faves too-