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Understanding what is gluten and dairy.
The following foods and ingredients contain dairy:
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese
- Dry milk
- Half n half
- Evaporated milk
- Condensed milk
- Ice cream
- Milk chocolate: please note that plain cocoa does not contain dairy or gluten.
- Milk fat
- Powdered milk
- Ricotta cheese
- Sour cream
- Yogurt unless otherwise indicated on the packaging as being dairy free
I want to address misconceptions that come up on a regular basis.
Is whole wheat bread gluten free? No.
Is white bread gluten free? No.
Unless a bread specifically states on the packaging that it is gluten free than chances are it is NOT gluten free. If your ingredients list on the bread includes words like wheat, wheat flour, enriched flour, unbleached flour, bleached flour then it DOES contain gluten. The following words and types of grains all contain gluten and should be avoided.
- Enriched flour
- Unbleached flour
- Wheat, whole wheat
- Wheat bran
- Wheat germ
Nearly all traditionally made bread, pasta, cereal, pop tarts, crackers, pastries, doughnuts, breading on chicken tenders, fish, and buns are made with grains that contain gluten.
Where do I start?
If you are new to eating gluten and dairy free I want to encourage you to avoid trying replacement dairy foods for a while. Gluten-free pasta is one thing, but dairy alternatives are a completely different challenge. My suggestion, at least for a month or so, is to focus on foods you already like and eat that are naturally gluten and dairy free with the exception of some gluten-free bread, tortillas, and pasta items.
Avoid foods you only like with cheese. Instead, choose foods you would not normally eat with cheese that you already enjoy and are familiar with.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Every time you think of a dish or food that you already like that is gluten and dairy free write it down. You will eventually have a nice, long, go-to list of dishes and foods. For example, do you like roasted chicken? Hamburgers? Steak? Baked potatoes? Chili? Chicken soup? Eggs, Roast with carrots, onions, potatoes? What vegetables do you like? Green beans? Salads? Asparagus? Cucumbers? Do you like tuna, salmon, and shrimp? All of these foods are naturally gluten and dairy free. Grapes, cantaloupe, peaches? Also gluten and dairy free. The next chapter will break down the sections of your grocery store with foods that are gluten and dairy free.
- Avoid restaurants if possible for the first month or two.
- If you find yourself at a restaurant, order whole foods like baked potato and salad. A buffet or salad bar? Again, whole foods that are single ingredients: baked potatoes, fresh whole fruit, fresh vegetables like cucumber, olives, salad, jicama, tomatoes, etc… Instead of feeling deprived consider how healthy this is for you and your body. You can also carry a gluten-free hamburger bun in your purse or bag and then switch it out if you order a hamburger. *Not for those so sensitive that they have to avoid cross contamination.
- Be open to trying new dishes as "brand new dishes" and not replacements for what you are avoiding. In other words, if you try a new lasagna recipe don’t expect it to taste just like your old lasagna unless it has exactly the same ingredients. Instead, judge the taste as a new dish you are trying to see if you like it or not.
- Remember that “gluten-free” alternatives like pasta and bread are still high carb foods. Nothing has been "removed" from the food to make it gluten-free or healthy, but rather they are merely using a grain that is naturally gluten-free to make the flour. The most common go-to alternative is rice flour rather than wheat flour to make pasta, crust, tortillas, etc. Rice is naturally gluten-free. I keep a bag of gluten-free all-purpose flour, almond flour, and GF Bisquick in my pantry. Which one I use depends on what I am making.
- Be patient. Remember that the shopping, cooking, and eating habits you now have are 20+ years in the making and so they are second nature to you. New habits take time to form. Allow yourself time for that to happen. Don’t expect it to happen overnight, but I assure you it will happen.
I have some gluten and dairy free chicken recipes here:
Paula C. Henderson is a nutritionist and author living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her web site is Gluten Free Dairy Free Recipes.
She is also the author of several gluten and dairy free books.