How to Start a Gluten Free and Dairy Free Diet

2020 is your year to get on track with a healthier diet and lifestyle! Most people start a new diet of sorts to help manage their weight and get to a weight they're more comfortable with in order to live said healthier lifestyle. Some people start a new diet out of necessity due to their bodies irregular responses to certain substances in their diets. In fact, many people go their whole lives without knowing what exact substances are causing issues for them. This brings people to explore new diets in search of a solution and most often this leads people to try the gluten-free and dairy-free diets. Many people are intolerant to both gluten and dairy and have to go gluten and dairy free to help manage many conditions such as: celiac disease, Crohn's disease, food sensitivities, and stomach inflammation. Both gluten and dairy are two of the most common allergens in people and can cause a plethora of issues both long and short term for your health. So, what are the best ways to get started on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet?

Step one is to educate yourself on the effects of dairy and gluten on your body and more importantly where they’re most commonly found in your typical foods. Become more knowledgeable about everything you put in your body and the effects it can have on your health. Once you’re aware of where gluten and dairy may be hiding in food and beverages, you can make more informed and smarter choices at the store and at restaurants. Truth is, more foods than you probably expect have some degree of either dairy or gluten in them. Therefore it's very important to correctly educate yourself on what foods you regularly eat contain either or, and very commonly both. Both dairy and gluten are known to be the cause of inflammation in various areas of your body post consumption. Although I personally started this journey not due to a diagnosed health concern, but for a healthier gut lifestyle in general after several digestive issues, both diets are traditionally used to help manage their conditions. The gluten-free path is very often used for people with celiac disease, gluten hyper-sensitivity, wheat allergy, or autoimmune disease to name a few. Where is becoming dairy-free is extremely beneficial for those who suffer from lactose intolerance (or dairy allergy), chronic sinusitis, blood sugar issue or PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). You’ll be able to feel the positive effects almost immediately from your transition. When I started going gluten and dairy free not only did I start feeling better within days, but many of my old symptoms were beginning to quickly disappear. I felt much more energetic and wasn't  getting bloated or gassy constantly as I previously would after every single meal. Changing your diet can be the best form of medication available!

The hardest part of your new journey is going to be cleansing your diet of all your favorite gluten and dairy products (which are much more than you think!) Although there are clear benefits to removing both dairy and gluten from your diet, it will still be very difficult for you to convert (and stick to)  to your new diet. You’ll be leaving a lot of your all-time favorites like bread, pizza, cheese and ice cream in the past. But have no fear! There are hundreds of delicious alternatives offered nowadays for almost all of your favorite gluten and dairy products. A huge tip I was given when I started this journey of removing both gluten and dairy from my diet was “focus on the foods you can eat, not the ones you can't”. This meant everything to me! Early on in the process the transition felt like a punishment as I removed some of my favorite foods from my diet. It’s vital to your commitment to this new lifestyle to shift your focus to all the new foods and flavors you can eat, as opposed to focusing on all the old ones you can't. This a great opportunity for you to explore all the ways you can utilize vegetables and make delicious vegetable-based meals. It’s time to get excited about all the new recipes and meal ideas!

A huge obstacle I encountered early on was finding it difficult to enjoy the replacements to some of my favorites. Truth is there is no substitute for bread or cheese that’s exact both in taste and texture. Be cautious of the additional sugars and chemicals that can make these dairy and gluten free products even more harmful for you than their original counterparts. Labeling like “natural flavors” and “flavoring” often mean some dairy or gluten included additives.  Lucky for you here at PBH Foods we have mastered the art of making both gluten and dairy free desserts so you don't have to miss any of those. You don’t have to search endlessly for a dessert substitute when PBH can deliver gluten-free and dairy-free cookies, gluten free and dairy free donuts, gluten free and dairy free brownies, and more gluten free and dairy free goodies right to your doorstep! 

It’s important to stay vigilant with nutritional information moving forward! You may not be used to looking at the back of every product you pick out at the store but you need to get used to looking for both gluten and dairy products within ingredients, as well as the substitutions nutritional value. This will save you countless hours/money searching aimlessly at the grocery store, trust me! It’s the best possible time to start this new diet as so many retailers and supermarkets have jumped on board. There are hundreds of  gluten and dairy free options at your nearest grocery store that may have not been there even 3 years ago as many are starting to realize the clear health benefits this diet contains. It was very easy for me to remove cow milk from my diet once I realized how delicious almond milk is (and how many options there are available). Miss baking at home after dinner? Substitute your old traditional flour with almond flour or cassava flour! The substitutes are widely available for almost everything you can think of. No more excuses, start today!

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