Do the words, “I recommend a gluten and dairy free lifestyle” strike fear in your heart? Do you need to put your kid on a gluten or dairy free diet for health or behavior reasons? Are you nursing a dairy sensitive baby so you have to make changes in your diet? Adopting a gluten and dairy free lifestyle can seem overwhelming and limiting when you’re first faced with it. It’s hard to know where to begin! When I first made these changes to my own diet, I felt like there was nothing I could eat, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I love to get inspiration for a meal from a single ingredient. The other day while shopping, I noticed a bag of wild and raw organic sun-dried Turkish figs. I snapped them up, and began planning an amazing gluten and dairy free pizza with the figs as the main topping. I started with a gluten free crust, topped it with the figs, prosciutto, dairy free cheese, and a drizzle of pear balsamic. It was SO good, and I didn’t feel deprived whatsoever. Use your imagination to break out of the traditional food box and create new flavor combinations that will delight your taste buds! Two of my personal gluten and dairy free recipes are buckwheat rolls and dairy free coffee creamer!
What You Can Eat
Once you switch your perspective from all the things you can’t eat to all the things you CAN eat, your gluten and dairy free lifestyle changes become much easier. Focusing on eating single ingredient, whole foods allows you to create an endless number of combinations. I’ve written a gluten and dairy free sample list of some of the whole foods you CAN eat down below. This list is not exhaustive and might contain food items that can cross react to dairy and gluten. For example, corn gives me the same reaction that gluten does (inflammation, joint pain, gut issues, brain fog). The key is to be self aware and notice any reactions you may have.
Your adaptive immune system makes antibodies designed to target particular bad guys (antigens) that your immune system has decided are likely to do you harm. Once gluten gets tagged as an antigen (as it is in anyone with a gluten sensitivity), your adaptive immune system makes antibodies to seek it out and sound the alarm every time you ingest it.
Unfortunately, your immune system’s recognition system isn’t perfect; as long as a molecule’s structure is similar enough, your immune system registers it as an invader and attacks.
So while on the hunt for gluten, those antibodies can wrongly tag other proteins as gluten, if they recognize specific short amino acid sequences also found in gluten. Your immune system then puts up its defenses, flooding your body with inflammatory chemicals and ratcheting up your level of chronic inflammation. -Amy Myers MD
For more info and a list of potential cross reactive foods, click here.
Here are just a few of my favorite gluten and dairy free foods, and you can click on each link to see a detailed list for most categories.
broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, lettuces, carrots, peppers, onions, tomatoes (yes I know it’s a fruit), avocados (yep, a fruit too), zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, celery, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, Brussels sprouts
apples, oranges, bananas, melons, berries, mango, pineapple, kiwi, grapes, cherries, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums
beef, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish, venison, lamb, turkey
oats, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, corn
hemp seeds, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts
black beans, pinto beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, hummus
ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs
My Top Gluten and Dairy Free Substitutes
The best thing for your body is to eat real whole foods, but sometimes gluten and dairy free substitutes are a treat! Here are my favorite brands of gluten and dairy free substitutes. Just because something is gluten and dairy free doesn’t mean that it’s super healthy. These replacements won’t cause allergy issues, but are still high calorie and meant to be consumed in moderation. When you do need a substitute, however, there’s no reason for it to not be delicious!
Simple Mills products-Crackers, cookies, baking mixes and frosting
Siete Family Foods-Grain and corn free tortillas, chips and vegan queso
Trader Joe’s-Too many amazing gluten free items to list
Kite Hill–Almond milk yogurts, entrees, cream cheese, & artisanal delicacies
Miyoko’s-Vegan cheese, cream cheese and butter
Daiya Foods-Eat freely with a full line of dairy-free products free of 7 major allergens
You Can Do It!
Seriously. You can do it. Adopting a gluten and dairy free lifestyle doesn’t have to be limiting or overwhelming. You might need to do more detailed menu planning at first, and perhaps get a grocery store tour to learn where your new favorite gluten and dairy free items are, but YOU CAN DO THIS! Going gluten and dairy free has never been easier, and it’s worth it for better health.