There are lots of reasons people find they feel better if they stop eating gluten. For some it is because they are gluten-intolerant, meaning that they have a difficult time digesting gluten, a long protein string. For others, it is because they have celiac disease, a serious immunilogical disorder in which gluten acts as a toxin, destroying the crucial villi in the stomach. This condition can only be diagnosed while you are still eating gluten so if you suspect you may have celiac disease it is critical to consult a doctor before you take gluten out of your diet.
Once you decide to try going gluten-free, it can be a little intimidating to figure out how to get started. American and most European cuisines heavily rely on gluten. The average American eats a bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. The average American child, meanwhile, is fueld on pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken fingers. Where to start?
The good news is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. These days, hundreds of gluten-free products and ingredients are available and there is an increasing recognition that gluten is not good for all. And more and more people are discovering that they have a hard time eating gluten so chances are you'll find fellow travelers along the way.
So where to start?
Take a look through our Going Gluten-Free section and the gluten-free posts in our blog for information to get you on your way. Read our Survival Guide to New Diets for suggestions on how to approach your first few weeks on a new diet restriction, and check out our meal planning tips and downloadable food journal in our New Diets Toolkit to help get you through the initial period. And search our recipes database for recipes with no gluten -- or other ingredients you may not be able to tolerate.
One final note: be patient with yourself. Starting out gluten-free can be overwhelming since it is such a common part of our diet. To make matters worse, you will find that even the best of substitutes is unlikely to taste just like the wheat you are used to. The good news is that over time, as you let go of expectations, you will likely find that your tastebuds change. So hang in there and give yourself time to get through it.