How to Go Gluten Free

Think twice before you pick up that baguette—it just might kill you.

Not literally of course, but countless people around the world are suffering from gluten allergies and Celiac's Disease—and most are completely unaware.

“Millions of people have to go gluten-free to live healthy lives,” explains Dr. Gary Kaplan, founder of The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine. “Celiac disease is a diagnosis that is frequently missed for decades—if you have celiac disease, consuming gluten can lead to many serious health problems, therefore it needs to be completely eliminated from your diet. Those with gluten intolerances and sensitivities need to adopt a gluten-free diet to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms, such as joint and abdominal pain.”

Granted, a gluten-free diet isn't the easiest to maintain (we know first hand), but people are finally getting hip to the repercussions of a gluten-heavy diet, thus dropping this inflammatory ingredient from any and everything they consume. Interested in giving it a go? Dr. Kaplan shares six tips for going gluten free below.

—Change Your Mindset
It’s about taking charge of your heath. The first thing that needs to change isn’t your diet; it’s your thinking! Get used to the idea that your dietary habits need to change because they’re making you sick. Recognize that making the necessary changes will greatly improve how you feel.

—Clean Out Your Cupboards
If you live alone, clean out all of the items in your pantry that contains gluten. Either give them away or toss them out! If you share a kitchen with others who are not sensitive to gluten, create a separate place for the ingredients and foods that you can eat. This will help prevent cross-contamination.

—Start Reading Labels
While becoming gluten free, always take time to read food labels carefully. Once you know what items are gluten free, your grocery shopping will be quicker and easier.

—Prepare Ahead
If you are planning to dine out, you’ll need to do some investigating ahead of time. Find out what foods will be served or what gluten-free items are available on the menu. When attending a party, you can always bring a dish of your own. More and more restaurants offer gluten-free menus. The bottom line: Don’t be shy about asking questions about ingredients. Your good health depends upon you vigilantly avoiding gluten!

—Get Support
If you’re going gluten free, get the support you need to get started, and see it through. This can be done by working with a dietitian, nutritionist, or even hooking up with others who have gone gluten free. There are support groups, both online and in-person, that can help you navigate the new terrain.

—Be Consistent
To reap the benefits of improved health and wellbeing that come with going gluten free, you must stick with it. It can take a month or more of consistent gluten-free eating to begin to feel the health benefits. But the longer you stick with being gluten free, the easier and more second nature it will become.