Eating gluten free has become the latest health craze in America. It is estimated that the number of Americans eating gluten free has tripled in recent years, with approximately one out of every one hundred thirty people doing so due to a celiac disease diagnosis.
While some undiagnosed individuals believe eating gluten free has helped minimize bothersome issues such as upset stomachs and headaches, a small portion of individuals are required to follow a gluten free diet due to a medical diagnosis, gluten intolerance, or wheat allergies.
If you think a gluten free lifestyle could be in your near future, educate yourself about gluten, the types of medical conditions that require the strict avoidance of it, and convenient ways to eat safely, including some gluten free prepackaged meals.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a general term that covers a wide range of proteins commonly found in food including wheat. Some people mistakenly think that if they avoid consuming things with wheat listed as an ingredient, they will be eating gluten free. However, wheat and gluten are not always listed by their general names and can be listed as the following instead:
While these are the more commonly listed names of gluten, this list should be used as a guide only. The food industry is constantly changing and evolving which requires vigilance on the part of consumers.
The main function of gluten is to act as a binding agent, which helps food hold its shape. While gluten may be found in a number of foods, it can also be an ingredient in over the counter and prescription medications, makeup, and skin care products.
Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
Wheat is typically avoided by those with wheat allergies and gluten is avoided by those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. It is worth noting that these three conditions are quite different and should not be lumped together.
Individuals diagnosed with a wheat allergy may experience a serious or life threatening reaction if inadvertently consuming wheat. The reaction could present itself as itchy red hives, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or anaphylaxis.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the body has an immune reaction to the consumption of any form of wheat, rye, barley, and in some cases oats. If these offending grains are consumed, they damage the villi of the small intestine, which in turn can cause severe bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Currently, a gluten free diet is the only treatment regularly prescribed for individuals with celiac disease.
A gluten intolerance generally causes reactions limited to the digestive system. An individual with a gluten intolerance often experiences the onset of gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain if they consume gluten. For these individuals, a gluten-free diet is frequently recommended.
Individuals battling any of the above conditions could benefit from finding a meal delivery service that offers gluten-free prepackaged meals.
How to Eat Gluten Free
If adhering to a strict gluten free diet, some foods that naturally contain wheat will be off limits. While the presence of wheat in some foods may be more obvious, such as in baked goods, others will have a lesser to no visible presence of wheat. Common foods in which wheat is an ingredient include bread, cookies, cakes, pies, other baked goods, cereals, pasta, sauces, soups, roux, and even salad dressings.
Barley is a grain that contains gluten and is typically found in items such as beer, soups, some food coloring, and malt (including malts, milkshakes, malt syrup, malt vinegar, and malt flavoring). Rye is another source of gluten that is found in products such as rye bread, cereal, and beer.
Oats can be a bit tricky when it comes to gluten. Oats are generally gluten free on their own. However, many farms grow oats alongside gluten containing grains such as barley, wheat, or rye. When this happens, the oats can be cross contaminated with gluten, which can be a serious medical issue for those who have a wheat allergy or celiac disease.
Those consuming a gluten free diet often do best when sticking to whole foods such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. These foods in their purest form are generally gluten free but diners will need to ensure that any marinades, sauces, or toppings these foods are cooked in or served with are also gluten free.
Particularly for those starting out on their gluten free journey, there can be a learning curve to discovering what brands and restaurants offer gluten free options. Since this can take time, some individuals are turning to convenience items such as gluten free prepackaged meals from a delivery service.
Eating Gluten Free with a Meal Service
Meal services that offer home delivery are perfect for individuals with busy lifestyles and those that do not enjoy cooking. Those on a gluten free diet may find a service that offers gluten free prepackaged meals an even greater convenience as they learn the ropes of this new lifestyle.
Before choosing a meal delivery service, do your research. To avoid gluten, make sure you work with a service that avoids cross contamination and has a standard protocol for assembling a gluten free meals. A service that provides gluten free prepackaged meals should be able to answer these questions with knowledge and ease.
As a general rule, a healthy meal service should utilize primarily whole foods. However, using whole foods does not have to be boring when it comes to gluten free prepackaged meals. The meal delivery service you choose should offer a variety of gluten free meals each week, without requiring you to enter into a long-term contract.
Eating gluten free can be challenging, but it can be made satisfyingly simple when it is precooked, assembled, vacuum packaged, and delivered right to your front doorstep. Allow a few minutes to warm your meal before eating and bask in the fact that your delicious meal took no pots, pans, or cook time and requires minimal kitchen clean up.
Samples of Gluten Free Prepackaged Meals
A healthy and nutritious gluten free meal can be hard to come by. For this reason, a reputable meal delivery service will go to great lengths to offer their customers inventive and delicious gluten free prepackaged meals.
Some examples of gluten free prepackaged meals may include:
- Truffle Mushroom Risotto: a delightful medley of crimini, shitake, and white mushrooms with truffle oil served with an Arborio rice risotto
- Creole Pork Tenderloin: a lean cut of pork cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery and spices, served with tender green beans
- Chicken Thai: a succulent chicken breast, bell peppers, and squash topped with a Thai red curry coconut milk and pineapple sauce
- Caprese Steak: a seared skirt steak served with asparagus, balsamic cherry tomatoes, ciliegine mozzarella, and almond basil pesto
With mouthwatering gluten free prepackaged meals like these, eating gluten free can be delicious and easy if using a reputable meal delivery service.