For some, going gluten-free is a choice, while for others with gluten sensitivities or Celiacs disease, it’s a must. No matter which camp you fall into, you’ll be glad to know that going gluten-free isn’t as difficult as it once was.
Nowadays, it’s becoming easier to find gluten-free products in most supermarkets. Thanks to an increase in public awareness, manufacturers have started labeling their products as certified gluten-free to ensure that those with gluten sensitivities know whether the foods they are purchasing are safe for them to eat or not.
If you’re interested in adjusting your eating to support a gluten-free lifestyle and want to make sure your nutrition still stays on point, we can help point you in the right direction with our sample gluten-free meal plan. We’ll highlight what kind of foods you may wish to incorporate into your diet, as well as provide you with a few of our favorite gluten-free recipes from the 8fit app. But first, let’s define precisely what gluten is...
What is gluten?
Gluten consists of two proteins -- gliadin and glutenin -- found in various grains including wheat, barley, and rye. When you combine water and flour to form a dough, gluten is what binds the mixture, creating a stretchy, sticky consistency. Funnily enough, gluten actually takes its name from the Latin word for glue.
Gluten lends baked goods and breads their texture and durability. The amount of gluten in bread may vary and can give them their unique character. However, gluten is also found in other foods, such as seitan. Known for the chicken-like texture, it is often eaten on its own in a lot of Asian cuisines or used as a meat substitute in vegetarian cooking.
Why follow a gluten-free meal plan?
Unfortunately, gluten can cause problems in a small group of people, particularly those managing Celiacs disease. In the United States, Celiacs disease affects around 0.71 percent or more of the population. This autoimmune condition flares up when an affected person eats anything containing gluten. The side effects include severe digestive problems, headaches, skin rashes and, anemia to name a few. However, as the symptoms range widely from person to person, many cases of the disease go undiagnosed.
Some followers of a gluten-free diet also have sensitivities with similar, yet fewer symptoms that range from stomach upsets to depression. Others report minor issues, claiming that their symptoms worsen whenever they eat gluten.
If you think you may have issues with gluten, be sure to consult a doctor. To test for intolerances, your doctor may screen for antibodies with a blood test or perform a biopsy for intestinal inflammation.
Foods that contain gluten
If you’re on a gluten-free diet, be sure to steer clear of the following foods:
Cakes, cookies and other baked goods
Grains like spelt, rye and barley
Soy sauce -- you can substitute it with Tamari!
Gluten-free foods list: Our favorites
The good news is that there are many delicious gluten-free foods available, and you can find substitutions for common items (like bread) that you can enjoy when following a gluten-free meal plan. Just to be safe, always check the labels of the food you buy so that you can avoid any accidents.
Without further ado, here’s our healthy gluten-free foods list for when you need some ideas:
Whole grains including quinoa, brown rice, tapioca, rice, flax, millet, sorghum and buckwheat (despite the name, buckwheat is actually gluten free and part of the rhubarb family!)
Fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs and spices
Unsweetened dried fruit and raw nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts
Beans and legumes
Meat, poultry and seafood
Tofu, edamame and tempeh
Dairy products like milk, cheese and butter
Gluten-free recipes from the 8fit App
If you’re looking for a gluten-free meal plan, be sure to check out 8fit Pro. When deciding on your customized plan, you can choose to exclude any foods that contain gluten. For a little taste of what tasty recipes you’ll unlock when you subscribe, take a look at these three gluten-free recipes from the app:
Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
- 3 cups creamy non-dairy milk alternative like unsweetened coconut, almond or cashew (add more if you find the mixture too thick)
- 6 tbsp chia seeds
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup mixed fruit like blueberries and strawberries, for topping
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or pure honey (optional)
- In a mason jar or a bowl, combine the chia seeds, milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. If you’re using a jar that has a lid, close it and give the mixture a good shake and let it sit for five minutes.
- After five minutes, give the pudding another good shake or a vigorous stir to break up any clumps. Cover the pudding and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 1-2 hours if you’re short on time. If the vanilla chia seed pudding doesn’t come out to your liking, add more chia seeds or milk to balance it out and return to the fridge for another half hour or so.
- Cut some fruit up, like berries, banana or mango and add them to your chia seed pudding when it’s ready.
- ½ cup water
- ½ spring onion
- 1 whole egg
- ¼ cup quinoa (uncooked)
- ½ cucumber
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt, plain (low-fat)
- a tiny bit of salt
- 1 tsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- ¼ cup ground almonds/almond flour
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ bell pepper
- 1 tsp curry powder (dry)
- 1 garlic clove
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Place two parts water to one part quinoa in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
- Simmer the quinoa for about 15 minutes. Take the quinoa off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Wash the bell pepper and spring onion, remove seeds from the bell pepper and chop finely with onion. Peel the garlic and chop it into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, mix quinoa, ground almonds, egg, spring onion, bell pepper, curry powder, half of the parsley and half of the garlic.
- Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Form patties out of the quinoa mixture. Heat until golden brown (around 6 minutes) and flip carefully. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- In another bowl, mix greek yogurt with the remaining parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Wash the cucumber and cut into thin slices.
- Serve the patties on a plate, top with Greek yogurt dip and enjoy with fresh cucumber.
Garlic chicken with beet mash and wilted spinach
- 1 chicken drumstick
- 1 garlic clove (~⅛ oz)
- 1 tsp mixed herbs (no salt added)
- 1 ¼ cups beets (cooked and chopped) (~6 oz)
- 1 potato (~8 oz)
- 2 cups spinach leaves (raw) (~2 oz)
- a tiny bit of salt
- a tiny bit of black pepper
- 1 ½ tsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Bring water to a boil in a saucepan.
- Peel and roughly chop garlic. Score the chicken, add to a bowl and combine with garlic, oil, salt, pepper and herbs. Leave to marinate (Tip: try stuffing the garlic pieces inside the cuts you’ve created).
- Once oven is hot, add the chicken to a lined baking tray and roast for 20 mins or until browned.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut potato. Then add to boiling water for about 10 mins, or until soft.
- Heat a pan on medium heat, add spinach and let wilt. Season with salt and pepper (you can add other spices, like nutmeg if you want).
- Once potatoes are ready, drain, add beets and either mash by hand or with a blender. Season with salt and pepper.
- Plate everything and enjoy!
To get your very own gluten-free meal plan, download 8fit and go Pro today!