Clean Out the Kitchen and Go Wheat-Free - dummies

Clean Out the Kitchen and Go Wheat-Free

By Rusty Gregory, Alan Chasen

Once you’ve decided to go wheat-free or gluten-free, you’ll need to clean out your kitchen of food you don’t want to eat anymore. For some people, wrapping their brains around throwing away unspoiled food may be the first obstacle to overcome.

Some habits are difficult to break, but realize that tossing every box of cereal, can of soup, and package of frozen waffles is saving you from gas and bloating today and heart disease and diabetes down the road. Your blood pressure may be rising a bit now thinking about all the stuff you have to chuck, but you’re doing it a favor in the long run.

The best way to determine which foods should stay and which foods should go is to read the ingredients lists on the food labels. Reading every label may seem daunting, but you’ll quickly get the hang of spotting the usual suspects. And practicing with the items your own kitchen prepares you for reading labels when you go to the grocery store to restock your kitchen with wheat-free foods.

Toss any perishable items in the trash. Even leftovers from last night need to go. The time to change is now. Donate all unopened, nonperishable packages to a food bank.

In a perfect world, everyone in your household would be going along with your new wheat-free plan. That ideal isn’t always the case, however. If you do share the kitchen with these eaters, designate certain shelves and drawers for your wheat-free foods. You’re just trying to limit temptation.

And don’t give up on that perfect world. As others see your health and energy levels improve, they may be motivated to make the same dietary changes. Voilà! Wheat-free household.

Go through the cabinets and pantry

The pantry is probably the biggest culprit in most kitchens. Think about all the food you store in there that likely contains wheat. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Bread

  • Cakes and cookies

  • Doughnuts

  • Pasta

  • Cereal

  • Flour

  • Chips

  • Certain alcoholic drinks (if you’re giving up wheat because of a problem with gluten)

  • Canned soups

  • Crackers

Everything on this list has to go. And as you sort through items one by one, you’ll probably find more foods that violate the wheat-free plan. Toss ’em all!

Getting these items out of your sight is essential because temptation can make you crazy. Throwing out tons of items you spent good money on may seem daunting, but replacing them with foods that truly nourish your body can be invigorating.

The following list provides a few more items that, although they don’t actually contain wheat, are important to omit in the context of better health and feeling good. For starters, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a very common food additive that causes many of the same side effects as wheat (in addition to having its own addictive properties).

Another category of food to toss is common vegetable-based cooking oils. Although some oils have been touted as healthy alternatives to animal fats, they can be far from it. They contain high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids and are highly processed.

Along with wheat and grains, high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 are associated with an increase in all inflammatory diseases. These oils appear in most boxed foods, and you may have bottles of them for cooking or baking.

  • Seed cooking oils (canola, corn, vegetable, soybean, and sunflower, just to name a few)

  • Foods with added sugars

  • Foods containing MSG

  • Foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils

  • Foods containing trans fats

The focus of a wheat-free diet is, of course, eliminating wheat. But many grains cause some of the same effects as wheat in many people, so you might also want to rid your kitchen of grain products in general as a step toward improved health.

Toss items from the fridge and freezer

Refrigerated and frozen prepared items most likely have ingredients from the wheat and sugar lists that you are avoiding. Read the labels and be prepared to toss. Keep your eye on the prize: a great quality of life. Here are other items to be on the lookout for:

  • Breaded meat, fish, or chicken

  • Jellies and jams with added sugar

  • Margarine and other “buttery” spreads

  • Creamy salad dressings with added sugar

  • Frozen waffles, pancakes, biscuits, or other breakfast pastries

  • Ice cream

  • Frozen dinners

  • Ketchup (mostly sugar)

  • Beer (if you’re avoiding gluten)