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Are You Ready to Go Gluten Free?

Are You Ready to Go Gluten Free?

Going Gluten Free

As I explained in Diets That Heal, there are very good reasons for going gluten free beyond the fact that gluten is very hard to digest:

Gluten and casein free diets are commonly used in the treatment of autism. Gluten is a protein that comes from wheat and several other grains. Casein is a protein that comes from dairy products. These proteins have become ubiquitous in the Standard American Diet, found in everything from chicken nuggets to salad dressing. We often hear that removing gluten and casein from the diet is an excellent start toward healing. But why is this important? Gluten and casein are difficult to digest. They are common food sensitivities. And when they are improperly digested, peptides remain called gliadorphin (or gluteomorphin) and casomorphin, which react with opiate receptors in the brain, mimicking the effects of heroin and morphine. They can affect speech, cognitive and auditory processing, and decrease the ability to feel pain. These peptides also become addictive. This can be an issue in autism, ADHD, celiac disease, schizophrenia, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression and more.

Many people do not realize that gluten intolerance does not always manifest as digestive symptoms. Symptoms may be cognitive or behavioral, and there are many other physical symptoms. Thyroid problems, migraines, neuropathy, infertility, fatigue, hyperactivity, rashes, mood disorders, anemia and bone disorders are just a few examples of health problems related to gluten intolerance.

I encourage the people I work with on dietary changes to test for celiac disease with their doctor first before eliminating gluten because that is the only way to accurately test for it. This is important for a couple of reasons. If you are a celiac, gluten exposure can really jeopardize your health and you will want to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet for life and be very cautious with cross-contamination. If this is not an issue for you, you can relax about that aspect. I also tend to think that a positive celiac test may have implications for treatment down the road, or perhaps health insurance coverage of alternative foods. Knowledge is power.

Once you do remove gluten, know that it can take months to get the peptides out of your system, so you may continue to see symptoms for a while.

With all gluten-free (GF) diets, celiac or not, it is important to be very strict or you can undermine the entire diet. If you do test positive for celiac disease, strict avoidance is crucial for health.

Avoid Contamination

Here are some tips for avoiding contamination (particularly important for those with serious gluten allergies or celiac disease):

  • Clean out cutlery drawers and other drawers and cabinets that may have collected crumbs.
  • Replace wooden cooking utensils and cutting boards.
  • Wash dish towels/rags and sponges often.
  • Be sure to use a new toaster for gluten-free foods only or buy toaster bags (do not use a toaster that’s already been used to toast regular bread).
  • Squirt bottles are a great way to avoid contamination with condiments like mustard, jelly, etc.
  • Mark containers with “GF” to avoid confusion and contamination.
  • Clean food prep areas carefully.
  • Dedicate shelves and cabinets in your kitchen and refrigerator to GF food.

Making the Transition

It is difficult with picky eaters to remove gluten (and casein) from the diet, particularly because of their addictive properties. If changing the diet dramatically overnight will not work for your family, a good approach is to first remove gluten (and casein if desired) foods from the diet, replacing the foods you like to eat with gluten free and casein free options, even if the food you are substituting with is not the nutritious fare you ideally want to eat. It is becoming quite easy to find gluten and casein free options. Most find that once the addictions to gluten and casein are broken it is much easier to transition toward a more nutrient-dense diet. You can learn more about how to do this in my post Is There a Picky Eater at Your Table?

You do not, however, want to fall into the habit of using GF convenience foods that are less than nutritious for the long term. I have heard several experts assert that gluten free processed food is even less nutritious than their gluten-containing equivalent. Your typical gluten-containing supermarket refined foods are enriched with vitamins and minerals to provide a safety net. GF replacements are often lower in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also often loaded with sugar. GF processed foods can take “nutritionally empty” to a new low, so read those labels carefully. If you are eating real food and a balanced diet you are in good shape. You can transition into a real food diet at the pace your family is comfortable with.

You can find gluten-free pasta, cereal, bread, crackers, waffles, pancakes, brownies, cakes, cookies and more at most natural food stores, and many supermarkets.

Some Gluten Free Foods

  • potatoes
  • millet
  • corn
  • amaranth
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • teff
  • oats (make sure they are labeled gluten free)
  • beans
  • nuts/nut butters
  • eggs
  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • juice (all-natural,100% fruit juice)
  • gluten-free bread (such as millet, rice, tapioca, etc.)
  • gluten-free pasta (such as corn, rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • meats and fish bought without marinade or seasonings (check label to see if there are any additives)
  • herbs and spices (make sure label says gluten-free or contact company to be certain)


Always, always, ALWAYS read labels. Gluten hides in the most unexpected packages. For example, spice blends may contain gluten. Some vanilla extracts and baking powders contain gluten. Some processed meats such as hot dogs and sausages contain gluten. Some potato chips and fries can be dusted with gluten. Many candies contain gluten. Many alcoholic beverages contain gluten. You must read all labels carefully. Even your vitamins and supplements and toothpaste can contain gluten. If something contains an ambiguous ingredient, such as “spices”, you will want to investigate. Gluten is EVERYWHERE.

Some Books to Help:

Special Diets for Special Kids, Volumes 1 and 2 Combined by Lisa Lewis

The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet by Pamela Compart and Dana Laake

Getting Your Kid on a Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet by Susan Lord

The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide to Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) and Other Interventions by Barrie Silberberg

Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

Deliciously G-Free: Food So Flavorful They’ll Never Believe It’s Gluten-Free by Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Blogs With Great Gluten Free Recipes:

Gluten Free Goddess – lots of great gluten free recipes!

Gluten-Free Homemaker – great resource for gluten free recipes. Her newer recipes are casein free and often soy free too.

Simply…Gluten Free – amazing recipes that are gluten free. Also great assortment of casein free and nut free recipes.

Elana’s Pantry – a great resource for many grain free, gluten free and often casein free recipes.

Ginger Lemon Girl – wonderful recipes are gluten free and often casein and soy free.

The Spunky Coconut – you can find really novel ideas for gluten free, casein free and refined sugar free recipes here.

Come join my group on Facebook, where we are always discussing these issues! 

Using my Fullscript dispensary, you can enjoy 30% off MSRP (this was an option that I decided to extend to you rather than keep for myself) on my favorite product lines such as Thorne, Klaire, and Pure Encapsulations.  There are no fees to join, membership or any tricks. Free shipping over $50. This website is designed for me to pass along recommendations to my clients but I want to pass the savings along to everyone. You can visit my Fullscript dispensary here.

This site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Please consult with a qualified medical professional before making any dietary or supplement changes. Read our full disclaimer here.


This article was featured by The Tasty Alternative and We Like to Learn as We Go.



  1. We have been talking about going GF.

  2. Sheila says:

    My sister tried the gluten free diet with my nephew who is high functioning autism, he refused to eat. Now that he is a teenager, he has become more open to trying new foods.

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Hi Sheila! When they refuse to eat it is time to get a feeding therapist on board. They can work wonders. 🙂 I am so glad he is willing to expand his diet now!

  3. A lot of useful information!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Visiting from the Better Mom

    Wish you and your family a blessed 2013!

  4. I’ve never felt better since going gluten free! I tested neg for Celiac, but I still find that I do better when I don’t eat it.

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Hi Jo-Lynne! Yes, that is true for so many people! I am negative for celiac as well, but since my daughter is likely celiac and has two genes from hubby we are a gluten free family. It makes a big difference for me too!

  5. Lots of great information! I’m gluten-free because I feel much better. I never got tested because I didn’t have the classic symptoms of celiacs, plus I didn’t think my intolerance was that bad. I just know that eating gluten-free has helped my immune system, increased my energy levels and helped me to think better.

    Up until this week, I’ve avoided the gluten-free processed foods thanks to knowing so much about Nourishing Traditions and Paleo already. I can see how someone without a background in real foods would struggle with making the changes.

    Thanks for linking up at Motivation Monday! I’ll be pinning your post plus sharing it on my Frugal Local Kitchen page.

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Thanks so much for your kindness and for sharing your story, Barb! It is inspiring for sure. We all want to feel our best and for many, being gluten free is part of the equation!

  6. I Love the “gluten free godess” I’ve gotten some great recipes from her websites.

  7. Christy says:

    I am gluten free but my family isn’t – I need to be more diligent in ferreting out the gluten in my life.

  8. Melanie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing at Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Blog Hop.
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above
    Melanie @ Keep It Simple & Fun

  9. Great information! Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesdays Adorned From Above Blog Hop.
    Charly and Debi @ Adorned From Above
    Melissa @ Keep It Simple And Fun

  10. […] Are You Ready to Go Gluten Free? – why you should consider a gluten free diet and how to get started. […]

  11. I have been gluten free (among other things) for 10 years!!! I have INCREDIBLE energy and I am known as a human energy drink and I totally dedicate this to my wheat/gluten/grain free (as well as dairy, sugar) diet! 🙂

  12. […] how, just today I read an article on the Simple Natural Saturdays called Are You Ready to Go Gluten Free?. It’s a nice read and there are also other sites with gluten free recipes. I think she […]

  13. I’m not gluten free but I have friends who are. They just opened a gluten free shop not far from our home. Thank you for sharing at the hop xo

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Hi Katherine! I love hearing that gluten free food is becoming more available to those on a GF diet! Thanks for hosting and thanks for stopping by!

  14. Aileen says:

    I will have to check with the health store near our place for food which gluten free,Good thing I found this article!

  15. Dawn, thank you for sharing this thought-provoking post with us at Seasonal Celebration Wednesday. I too, know many people who have similar sensitivities to gluten and abstaining from it can quite simply change lives! Rebecca x

  16. Amber says:

    Hi There,

    This is such an amazing post!!! Thank you for sharing it with us on Allergy-Free Wednesdays. I will be featuring this post this week. 🙂

    Be Well,

  17. This is very interesting! I have wondered about gluten free lately. Thanks for sharing this info. I’ll have to look into it more. I’m featuring this at my link party tonight!

    • Dawn Tasher says:

      Thanks so much, Alexis! 🙂 I am so excited that you are featuring it and I hope it catches the eye of someone who otherwise might not have seen it that really needs the help!

  18. Fantastic resource!!
    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂

    On the Gluten Free Fridays tab we have new badges for you to display on your blog. There are a few different choices for you. There are varying sizes as well. If you’ve had a featured recipe in the past, feel free to grab one of those badges as well! They are free for the taking; use as you wish! Thanks for supporting our GF community and spreading the word!

    Thanks for linking back to the Gluten Free Fridays post!

    See you at the link up this week!

    Cindy from

  19. Nicole says:

    Thanks for sharing on Show Off Friday!

  20. Lavana says:

    Does anyone have a recipe for sourdough bread made from coconut flour?
    It is very low in carbs and calories. I know a bakery that bakes it, but at $8 a loaf I cannot afford it very often.

  21. Good information. Lucky me I ran across your website by accident (stumbleupon).

    I’ve book marked it for later!

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