Going Gluten-Free for Hashimoto’s
July 26, 2011
My husband was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. What is the easiest way to transition to gluten-free?
That is a great question; one that too few people ask before going gluten-free. There are the foods that obviously contain gluten, such as breads, pastas, beer and baked goods, which are easy to identify and remove from the diet. Then there are the hidden sources of gluten and cross contamination, which make it much harder to avoid gluten. Because of these, nearly every person new to the gluten-free diet makes mistakes at the start.
Going gluten free is a huge learning curve, and it does take a while to truly get the hang of avoiding gluten 100%. To transition quickly and easily and get your husband on the road to better health, I recommend getting help from others. In particular, I recommend seeing a registered dietitian who has extensive experience with gluten-free patients; she or he can educate you and review your husband’s diet to understand what foods he is eating that contain gluten and how he can substitute them with safe and nutritious alternatives.
Next, I highly recommend joining a local support group, as the members can share all they know about their favorite gluten-free products, education resources, and safe restaurant experiences.
Lastly, surround yourself with resources to become educated about going gluten-free and what this means. To get you started, I recommend the following resources:
- NFCA’s Resources webpage
- NFCA’s information about diseases related to celiac (including thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s)
- The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Living(Handbook from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University)
- The Gluten-Free Mall
- The Gluten-Free Registry
- Triumph Dining’s Gluten Free Grocery and Restaurant Guides
While this is certainly my own opinion, I also recommend that, to start, your husband eat most of his meals at home and take meals with him to work, as it’s easiest to avoid gluten when preparing food in the home. Work with a registered dietitian to do a pantry makeover and discuss tactics for avoiding cross contamination in the home.
Once your husband is comfortable eating at home and taking meals on the go, you can then tackle avoiding gluten outside the home, which is much more difficult given that he has less control over how the food is prepared. Discuss tactics for eating gluten-free outside the home with your registered dietitian as well as support group members. Those who do it every day are your best means for acquiring the tips you’ll need to talk to restaurant managers, waiters, chefs and other food preparers.
Rachel Begun, MS, RD