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7 Common Mistakes When Going Gluten-Free

If you’re thinking about adhering to a gluten-free way of life, or have already done so, there are several things you should do to avoid some common pitfalls. Keep reading to learn about some surprising mistakes people make and how to avoid them while embarking on your own gluten-free journey.

1. Failing To Stick To The Diet Long Enough

Gluten-free diets are arguably just like any other kind in that, if you don’t stick with them long enough, you probably won’t notice results. You may be especially prone to taking that approach if you are going gluten-free for lifestyle reasons rather than being ordered by a doctor.

Keep in mind that you almost certainly won’t see results within days or even just a couple of weeks.

It will take longer than you may realize, but your devotion to the diet could really pay off. If you want more specifics about how long it might take to see results, consider talking to a trusted friend who has been on the gluten-free diet for the same reason you are, or at least a similar one. Ask that person how long it took them to see results, and loosely base your own expectations around what you find out.

2. Assuming That All Gluten-Free Products Are Automatically Healthier

When people see a food label that says it is free from something, they tend to quickly assume it must be better for them, whether the thing they’re going without is fat, sugar, gluten or something else.

Keep in mind that foods that are free from gluten may indeed be better for you, especially if you have been diagnosed with an intolerance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are more nutritious.

Instead of picking foods from the grocery store solely based on whether they have gluten-free labeling or not, take a closer look and check for details about the other ingredients and the associated nutritional breakdown. The more you do that, the easier it will be to eat better, and not just by avoiding gluten.

3. Not Being Aware Of Cross Contamination Concerns

Be aware that just because a restaurant has a gluten-free menu, that doesn’t mean the dishes were prepared in an environment that’s free from items that contain gluten.

In most cases, unless a restaurant takes special care to focus on and offer gluten-free items, those foods will be prepared alongside foods that do have gluten in them. In your case, this may not be problematic, especially if your level of gluten sensitivity is not very severe.

However, some people start feeling ill if they consume foods that are gluten-free in terms of their own ingredients, but have come in contact with equipment that was also used to make foods that have gluten. If you are concerned about particular kitchen set-ups, ask your server before ordering your meal.

4. Failing To Be Assertive About Your Desire To Eat Gluten-Free Fare

Many restaurants offer cuisines on their menu that are basically identical in the way they taste, except one has gluten and the other does not.

If you order one of those meal options, take care to clearly tell your server that you cannot or do not want to eat gluten, and you want to make absolutely sure that the kitchen staff knows to make you the version of that meal that does not contain it.

The reason why it’s so important to speak up about your desire for a gluten-free meal is that you won’t be able to taste the difference. In some cases, you may spot that something’s amiss, such as if you order a supposedly gluten-free meal that has breadcrumbs on top, and you know the truly gluten-free version did not include any sort of breadcrumbs (even those made from gluten-free loaves).

5. Lacking Adequate Research About Cross Reactivity

There may be cases where you initially started feeling a lot better due to your gluten-free diet and then suddenly feel like you’ve hit a roadblock because you begin feeling worse again despite not having altered your diet in any way.

Although there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to this problem, it may be related to what’s known as cross reactivity. Sometimes, even if your body is not digesting any gluten products, there are other non-gluten items that may cause the body to behave as if you were still eating it.

If you are concerned about this happening in your case, keep in mind that there are labs that can perform tests to see how your body is handling the things you consume.

It’s a good idea to at least research the concept of cross reactivity. You may not ever deal with it during your gluten-free way of life, but just in case you do, it’s smart to at least have some basic awareness. Otherwise, you may get the wrong impression that your gluten-free diet is “no longer working” and give up on it unnecessarily.

6. Only Making Your Gluten-Free Habits Extend To Diet

When they decide to go gluten-free, many people pay attention to their diets first, and indeed, that is a great first step. However, don’t forget that if you really want to do away with gluten, you need to look at personal care products, too.

Some products you use every day, or nearly that frequently, may be made with some gluten-based ingredients. Be choosy about those in the same way you would when buying food at a grocery store.

If you do not have a high sensitivity to gluten, you may decide not to cut every gluten-related product from your life at once, and that’s a very personal decision.

However, if you are very sensitive to gluten and still feeling its effects despite adjusting your diet, look closer at the things that you put into your body, even by means of topical applications and eventual absorption.

7. Thinking That Your Gluten-Free Diet Is A Cure-All

Many people start out feeling extremely motivated about cutting gluten from their diets and then find their enthusiasm quickly waning because, although they feel better, they still have some health problems they’d like to tackle.

common-mistakes-gluten-free-pinTo avoid falling into that mindset, think of your gluten-free diet as one piece of the overall puzzle that equals good health. In the same way that most people aren’t able to lose weight and keep it off by just making one single change that takes care of everything, you shouldn’t be hopeful that by ceasing to eat gluten, you’ll magically be cured of all your health problems.

On the other hand, a doctor may have told you that, in their educated opinion, a lot of your health-related concerns would be at least greatly diminished if you go without eating gluten.

In that case, diet may be the thing that helps you to start feeling better than you have in a long time. The more accurate your expectations are, the less likely it is you’ll feel let down.

These mistakes aren’t the only ones people make, but they are some of the top blunders. Take the insight above to heart to avoid making them yourself.

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Katherine Hurst
By Dr. Michael Richardson
Passionate about sharing the latest scientifically sound health, fitness and nutrition advice and information, Dr Richardson received his Master of Science in Nutrition from New York University, and a Bachelor Degree from New Jersey University. He has since gone on to specialize in sports nutrition, weight management and helping his patients to heal physical ailments by making changes to their eating habits and lifestyles.

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