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These days, it seems like everywhere you look, restaurants, brands, and dieticians are promoting “gluten-free” meal options. But what exactly is gluten? We’re here to demystify some of the confusion behind this growing food trend, as well as provide a resource guide for eating (and enjoying) a gluten-free diet. It may not be for everyone, but eliminating gluten has never been easier—especially when you have tips, go-to brands, and recipes handy. Here’s a closer look at what gluten-free diet looks like and how you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.
What Is Gluten-Free?
Naturally present in many grains like wheat, rye, and barley, gluten is a protein that is formed when two molecules—glutenin and gliadin—form a bond. Unfortunately, not everyone’s body can absorb gluten, particularly those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. In these case, adopting a gluten-free diet, a diet that eliminates foods where gluten is present, can help avoid the uncomfortable side effects that sometimes accompany gluten consumption.
Benefits of Gluten-Free
To be clear: Gluten isn’t necessarily bad for you, it just may not be for everyone. For those with gluten intolerance, ingesting gluten can sometimes cause bloating and abdominal discomfort, headaches, muscle cramps, chronic fatigue, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. If you have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, your body’s immune system can form antibodies against gluten, which can damage the lining of the intestine. Eating gluten-free helps alleviate these symptoms which can reduce digestive discomfort and improve energy levels.
Tips for Eating Gluten-Free
Eliminating gluten from your diet doesn’t have to feel like a punishment. Many foods are naturally gluten-free, and there are plenty of gluten-free products on the market (in fact, you can filter all Thrive Market brands by checking the gluten-free box under our values). When dining out at restaurants, be sure to check with your server to find out if there are gluten-free menu items available (some menus may even note these options). Another tip is to check with your pharmacist before taking prescription medications, supplements, or over-the-counter medicine as some may contain gluten.
Top Gluten-Free Brands
Finding gluten-free brands is nowhere near as tough as it used to be. We’ve rounded up a few of our pantry must-haves.
One of the founders of the Paleo movement, Primal Kitchen founder Mark Sisson created a brand of condiments, protein powders, bars, made with wholesome ingredients and offering many gluten-free options.
Whisk in some healthy fats into your next gluten-free dish thanks to this avocado-based cooking oil, which has a high smoke point of about 400°F. Use it in place of olive oil, coconut oil, or butter for delicious roasted veggies or salad dressing.
With a longstanding legacy of family farming, this close-to-the earth, certified organic brand ensures every product isn’t just of high quality but that it’s ethically sourced and sustainably grown. From rice to quinoa to chips and snacks, Lundberg Farms offers a variety of pantry staples, including gluten-free favorites.
A great source of fiber and an ideal accompaniment to just about any meal, this short grain rice is a must-have for every well-stocked kitchen. The wonderfully nutty flavor and pleasant texture make it a perfect match for everything from fried rice to rice pudding.
From crackers to pancakes, even gluten-free confections like creamy frosting and cake mixes, this Chicago-based, certified gluten-free company is working to make clean baked goods and baking must haves as accessible as possible.
We’re going bananas for this gluten-free bread and muffin mix which uses real bananas along with simple, whole food ingredients including almond flour, coconut flour and coconut sugar for nutrient value and lower glycemic impact.
Need some gluten-free recipe inspiration? These go-to favorites can be enjoyed all week long. (You can find even more gluten-free recipes here).
Let’s taco ‘bout how good these gluten-free tortillas are thanks to a simple recipe of cassava flour, coconut milk, EVOO, and sea salt. They’re perfect for fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, or quesadillas and can be made without just a rolling pin or parchment paper and a wide-bottomed bowl.
We love breakfast options you can enjoy with a soothing cup of coffee or on-the-go depending on where the day takes you. This recipe fits the bill and skips the gluten thanks to a superfood blend of mulberries, goldenberries, and goji berry powder.
Noodles are not off the menu just because you’re eating a gluten-free diet. This recipe is quick and easy with kelp noodles that come ready to eat (just rinse and drain) that are tossed together with a creamy sauce that uses avocado for richness then layers in flavors like basil, nutritional yeast, and garlic.