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Going Gluten-Free for the New Year

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  • Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
  • January 2014
  • 5 min read

2014 is here and, for many people, the New Year signifies new hope for positive lifestyle changes. With the increased prevalence and attention to gluten sensitivities and the desire for many to try a gluten free lifestyle, many patients are seeking advice on where to begin with their gluten-free resolution. There are many points to consider when making a gluten-free resolution, and as registered dietitians, we’re here to help our patients and clients with the transition. Luckily, going gluten free is easier today than it ever has been. It’s as simple as knowing the three “E’s.”

Educate. Education is a critical component to helping your patient’s live a gluten free lifestyle. Start with label reading basics and use example products or even a grocery store tour to demonstrate the essential factors that determine whether a product is truly 100% gluten free. Instruct your patients on how to identify statements that may indicate potential for cross contamination with gluten containing foods and provide handouts on processed foods that may be likely to contain gluten such as licorice, French fries and soy sauce. Finally, provide resources on tips for dining out and traveling.

Empower. While going gluten free may seem daunting at first, remind your patients that there is an entire world beyond wheat, rye and barley. In fact, there are more gluten-free grains that exist in nature than non-gluten-free grains. The world is their quinoa cake, so excite them about taking a bite!

Encourage them to eat gluten free now! Starting on January 1st is the norm with New Year’s resolutions, but starting as soon as possible is an even better plan. Going gluten free may be associated with a wide range of beneficial health outcomes that may be felt as early as a few days in. Further, the simple step of truly watching what you eat, including label reading and increased awareness to what certain ingredients will do to your body may have secondary dietary impacts, such as increased fruit and vegetable consumption, better portion control and increased water intake.

Finally, if you have a patient that desires their child to go gluten free, follow these same steps. Inspire mom and dad to lead by example by reading labels and educating themselves on gluten-free food options. Most importantly, encourage all family members to join the effort and make the entire household a gluten-free one.

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