Living Wheat-Free For Dummies
Living a wheat-free lifestyle means eliminating wheat from your diet. To get the most health benefits, you should also cut back on the amount of processed sugar you consume. When you follow these guidelines, you return to a low-to-no-grain, low-sugar, high-fat diet that was far more common many decades ago. The idea is to enjoy real food and limit the foods you eat from a box or a drive-through window. When you do need to grab a meal on the go or pick up some groceries, use the following lists to make smart choices.
Choosing Restaurants that Suit a Wheat-Free Lifestyle
More and more restaurants are reaching beyond their traditional customer bases to tap into the market of those who can't or don't eat wheat, grain, or gluten. This shift has increased in the number gluten-free menus chain restaurants offer.
However, many restaurants with gluten-free options haven't taken the final step of creating gluten-free kitchens to avoid cross-contamination. The following restaurants offer prudent choices but, to be safe, call ahead or look online to see whether they meet your wheat-, grain-, or gluten-free approval.
Austin Grill (Tex-Mex)
Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano (Italian)
Boston Market (American)
Carrabba's Italian Grill (Italian)
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (Steakhouse)
Olive Garden (Italian)
On The Border (Mexican)
Outback Steakhouse (Steakhouse)
P.F. Chang's China Bistro (Asian)
Red Lobster (Seafood)
Red Robin (American)
Romano's Macaroni Grill (Italian)
Ruby Tuesday's (American)
Souper Salad (American)
Even though fast-food restaurants probably aren't the first thing you think about when addressing your wheat- or grain-free needs, you can create meals at some places that will meet your needs in a pinch. Remember, always ask "How is the food prepared?" and "Which foods on the menu are gluten-free?" For starters, the most obvious choice at most fast-food stops is to go bunless. Here's a quick list of fast food restaurants that offer gluten-free menus to some degree or another:
Au Bon Pain
Long John Silver's
Starbucks (primarily drinks)
Recognizing Wheat's Many Pseudonyms
Spotting wheat in an ingredients list can be more difficult than it may appear. Wheat has many different forms and names and can appear multiple times in the same list. Acquainting yourself with the following list as you start your new lifestyle makes your trip to the grocery store much easier. As you become more comfortable with your wheat-free lifestyle, you'll develop a repertoire of go-to foods, and this list will become less important.
Barley grass (because of cross-contamination)
Bulgur (a form of wheat)
Durum, durum flour, durum wheat
Flour (including all-purpose, cake, enriched, graham, high-protein or high-gluten, and pastry)
Seitan (made from wheat gluten and commonly used in vegetarian meals)
Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
Wheat bran, germ/germ oil/germ extract, gluten, grass, malt, or starch
Wheat protein/hydrolyzed wheat protein
Knowing Other Names for Sugar
To take full advantage of the health benefits of a wheat-free lifestyle, experts recommend that you also eliminate as much processed sugar as possible. One of wheat's worst effects is that it causes an increase in blood sugar, which leads to weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes. Foods that contain lots of sugar have the same effect, so you need to watch your sugar intake.
Recognizing the various pseudonyms for sugar and noting the total grams of sugar on the food label can help you make healthier choices. Here are the other names for sugar that you may see on a product's ingredients list:
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrates
High fructose corn syrup