Five Tips for Going Gluten Free

By JoAnn Ridout, MPH, RD, LD
April 26, 2018

Have you ever listened to Dishing up Nutrition and wondered if going gluten free might make you feel better? The benefits, being free from heartburn, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, headaches (and the list goes on!), are appealing, but change is hard. The thought can be overwhelming since gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, bulgur, semolina, couscous and farro.

I used to be skeptical about going gluten free, but after researching and experimenting with my own food habits, I found that removing both gluten and sugar from my own diet eliminated the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and arthritis pain that I had for years. It was life-changing to say the least!

To help you experience that success, here are the steps I took when I went gluten free.

One: Avoid Processed Foods, Not Just Gluten  

steakspinach.jpgThe most helpful advice is to stop eating processed food, and just eat real food for at least a month. That’s eating real protein (meat, eggs and fish), real carbohydrates (vegetables or fruits) and real, healthy fats (olive oil, butter and coconut oil). Real food doesn’t come in a box or bag, ready to mix or throw in the oven. That said, you will occasionally find a label, so if you do, remember to read it carefully as ingredient lists can surprise you.

An example of a delicious real food breakfast is a couple of eggs, a couple pieces of bacon or sausage, and spinach or peppers cooked in butter or olive oil. For a shortcut, make an egg bake on the weekend to eat through the week. Tons of real food recipes are here for you to explore. 

Two: Gluten-Free Products Are Out

Stay out of the gluten-free aisle. This can be confusing, but the foods found in those aisles are still processed, making them no healthier than their counterparts containing gluten. They are comprised of refined grains and starch, which turn into sugar in your body. In short, more sugar can lead to more pain (inflammation) in your body, something you’re probably trying to avoid. Plus, once you get used to real-food eating, you won’t find these processed foods very appealing.

Three: Plan (And Make) Ahead  

Wildrice-meatballs.jpgPlanning ahead for the week is crucial. I usually prepare three to four meals ahead of time each week. I find it helpful to make a meal plan, shop and prepare on my days off, making the week that much easier.

The Weight & Wellness Way Cookbook and Nutrition Guide is a great resource for meal planning because all of the recipes can be made gluten free or already are. Some of the family favorites in my house are Chili, Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Crockpot Beef Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, Salmon Salad and Chicken Sonoma Salad.

Don’t forget about snacks! For instance, boil a dozen eggs for egg salad or hard-boiled eggs on the go. Wild rice meatballs are also a great snack. When I make meatballs, I make three to four pounds of ground beef at a time, so I am usually tripling the recipe. I bake all of them and store in the freezer for snacks or meals as needed.

Four: Have a Backup Plan

Web_Recipe_Rotisserie-Chicken-Almond-Stir-Fry.jpgWhen all else fails, have a backup plan ready! By that I mean, know where you can stop to pick up a quality rotisserie chicken (check online or with your local store to be sure the chicken is gluten free), a package of frozen green beans and some baby red potatoes. It won’t take long at all to prepare this delicious, fast meal. Once you get home, top the beans and potatoes with butter or olive oil and you’re set!

Five: Get Help!

Consider scheduling a consultation with a nutritionist for help in tackling your personal health goals. We can help you with meal planning and be with you every step of the way to support, motivate and guide you to success.

Another option is to take our online class Going Gluten Free the Healthy Way for more ideas and information.  Also, make sure to check out our Dishing Up Nutrition podcasts, What Does it Take to Be Gluten Free? and Going Gluten Free the Healthy Way.

About the author

JoAnn has always appreciated the value of good nutrition because diabetes and cancer run in her family. Not only does JoAnn understand chronic diseases, but also she has taken on challenging and complex health conditions when she worked as a registered dietitian at Courage Center for 25 years. JoAnn brings extensive experience, along with compassion and understanding to your health concerns. JoAnn graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics and a master of science in public health. As a registered dietitian and nutrition educator, she has experience in therapeutic nutrition counseling, weight management, and nutrition education.

View all posts by JoAnn Ridout, MPH, RD, LD


Carol Steehler
I have eaten gluten free since 2000.
My emergency/fast food is individually packaged slices of Beeler ham and frozen organic chicken sausage. I keep these on hand at all times. I generally have a tomato or cucumber or carrots in the frig. Really helps me out in a pinch. I can make a snack or a meal out of these in no time.
February 28, 2020 at 11:20 am


Thank you for sharing Carol, what great examples!

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