Gluten-Free Diet Plan for Beginners: Meal Ideas and Tips

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Is a gluten-free diet the right choice for you? This is a question you may have asked yourself, given the large number of articles about the possible benefits of a gluten-free diet. Although we don’t recommend eating gluten-free unless you have a medical reason to do so, this gluten-free diet plan for beginners will give you some hearty gluten-free meal ideas for every time of day.

Breakfast can usually be a wheat-heavy meal and you may find yourself desperate on how to replace your usual slice of toast with something substantial and gluten-free. We’ve listed some breakfast ideas below that will give you the slow-release energy you need in the form of complex carbs and protein.

Celiac disease affects about 1% of the population, according to a study conducted in the Lancet (opens in a new tab) newspaper, which may not seem like a lot, but it translates to millions of people who need information and access to great ideas for gluten-free foods and meals. So if you’re going gluten-free for the first time, read on for our complete guide.

Gluten-free diet: Foods to eat

Many foods are naturally gluten-free and can make a great starchy base for your meals. Potatoes, rice, and legumes make a great alternative to wheat products, and you may be able to find gluten-free alternatives to things like pasta that use them as a main ingredient (e.g. pasta with gluten-free lentils). Below we list some of our favorite gluten-free meals, most of which rely on naturally gluten-free foods, as opposed to the gluten-free alternative you might buy at the supermarket.

We spoke to Naomi Leppitt, celiac disease dietitian at Fit Dietitian (opens in a new tab), who told us that celiacs can trust the cross grain symbol. “Although people with celiac disease should avoid gluten, it is safe to eat many foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, lentils and legumes, potatoes, corn, fruits and vegetables,” she says. “Gluten-free grains include rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth, arrowroot and teff. Foods labeled “gluten-free” or displaying the cross-grain symbol are also safe to eat, as are any pre-prepared foods that do not contain gluten, such as soups or ready meals.

“Some foods are originally made from wheat, but their end products do not contain gluten, such as glucose syrup or maltodextrin, and are therefore safe to eat. If a food label warns that a food “may contain” traces of gluten, it may be best to speak with the manufacturer.

gluten free bread

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Gluten-free diet: foods to avoid

You should avoid foods made from wheat, barley, spelled, and rye, which are all grains that contain gluten. If you have celiac disease, you will also need to watch out for cross-contamination. Some foods, like oats, can be contaminated with gluten because they are often processed in factories that process both oats and wheat. In this case, you might want to buy gluten-free oats to be safe. On top of that, many processed foods contain gluten, as it is a cheap ingredient and used for bulking, so it’s best to eat freshly prepared meals to ensure they’re gluten-free. .

Leppitt also advises to pay particular attention to cross-contamination. “To avoid gluten cross-contamination in food, it is recommended to use toaster bags in the toaster and to use separate spreads and jams at home,” she says.

She also flags oats as a potential problem food. “Oats are often produced in the same place as wheat, barley or rye in their other products, so there may be a risk of cross-contamination. It’s best to buy gluten-free oats, but some people with celiac disease are also sensitive to gluten-free oats because they contain a protein called avenin which is similar in structure to gluten.

7-day gluten-free diet menu

Monday

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal made with your choice of milk, topped with fresh blueberries and chia seeds
  • Lunch: Jacket potato with tuna, sweet corn and broccoli
  • Having dinner: Zucchini Lasagna

bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries and apples

(Image credit: Getty images)

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Buckwheat pancakes with golden syrup and strawberries
  • Lunch: Mushroom hash with poached eggs
  • Having dinner: Crispy tofu and sautéed vegetables with rice noodles

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Green smoothie and a slice of buttered gluten-free toast
  • Lunch: Smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and arugula
  • Having dinner: Chickpea and coconut curry with rice

woman drinking green smoothie

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Baked eggs with spinach and tomatoes
  • Lunch: Coral lentil pasta with pesto, pine nuts and parmesan
  • Having dinner: Stew of meatballs and beans with a rich tomato sauce

Friday

  • Breakfast: Hash browns with mushrooms, tomatoes and fried egg
  • Lunch: Stuffed sweet potato with black bean sauce and smoked cheese
  • Having dinner: Lamb tagine

Fruity lamb tagine with pomegranate

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Gluten-free bacon, eggs and sausage with a slice of buttered gluten-free toast
  • Lunch: Teriyaki tofu with broccoli and rice
  • Having dinner: Shepherd’s Pie with Cheese Potato Topping

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Smoked haddock kedgeree with peas
  • Lunch: Spicy Spanish Tortilla
  • Having dinner: Roast beef with roasted potatoes, homemade onion sauce (thickened with cornstarch) and honey-glazed carrots

Gluten-Free Diet: Tips for Beginners

Dr Marion Sloan, UK GP and President of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology, recommends getting medically tested for celiac disease, gluten intolerance or wheat allergy. “It’s always best to test before adopting a gluten-free diet,” she says. She also notes that relying on gluten-free alternatives to foods like pasta or bread can end up being expensive and unsustainable for some. “It’s potentially more expensive to a point where people are saying I can’t do this diet because it’s too expensive,” she says.

quinoa salad

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Leppitt adds that while a celiac diagnosis can be difficult, there is light at the end of the tunnel. “It can be difficult to accept a diagnosis of celiac disease, as it is a chronic condition with no known cure, and the only treatment is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet,” she says. “With growing awareness of the condition and dietary trends, gluten-free foods on the market are constantly expanding, so people with celiac disease have more choices on ready-to-eat products than they do. wouldn’t have a few decades ago.

“I would also recommend speaking to a dietitian for specialist advice and booking annual blood tests with your GP to rule out related conditions and review nutrient levels, to confirm repair of the gut lining following the well gluten-free diet. It is also important to remember that mistakes do happen and the occasional mistake will not cause significant or lasting damage to the intestinal lining, but symptoms can occur soon after exposure and last for up to several days. .

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice.

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