With a brand new year already upon us, it’s understandable that after all the holiday festivities, you’d want to lose more than a couple pounds, right?

You already know that getting back in shape is a combination of a healthy diet and some exercise. But before you make that commitment–after all, we’re looking at a lifestyle change here–you have to ask yourself: is the gluten-free lifestyle really for you?

Going gluten-free means cutting off all sources of gluten in your diet–and for the most part, that includes:

  • Most breads, pasta, and cereals (the processed, wheat-based variety)

  • Most baked goods like cakes and cookies, but also pastries, muffins, and pizza

  • A lot of the usual snacks, including chips, candy, popcorn, roasted nuts, pretzels, and crackers

  • A lot of condiments like soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, as well as a lot of marinades and salad dressings

  • Beer and other flavored alcoholic beverages

  • Other common commercially-available processed foods

And that’s just for starters. It’s going to be tough if you really love your potato chips, beer, or those donuts.

A simple way of knowing what to eat: go for unprocessed, single-ingredient foods. A simple list of foods OK on a gluten-free diet will include:

  • Meat

  • Poultry and eggs

  • Fish and seafood

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Beans and legumes

  • Fresh herbs and spices

  • Corn (including cornmeal, grits, or polenta)

  • Rice

  • Milk, butter, and cheese

  • Oats and oatmeal (as long as they’re not contaminated or processed alongside wheat-based foods)

  • Other wheat alternatives: quinoa, millet, sorghum, tapioca, buckwheat, etc.

  • Potatoes

  • Almonds

  • Vinegars and oils

To be honest, this still includes a fairly good variety of foods. And it’s fine if you spend most of your time preparing your own food at home, but what happens when you eat out at your favorite restaurant, or if you want a little more variety with ingredients you’ve never used before?

One of the biggest challenges of those going gluten-free is that it has a nasty habit of hiding in other popular food items: This means you’ll need to diligently read food labels for possible gluten sources, even if the label does say “gluten-free!”

We recommend that you read up further on getting into a gluten-free lifestyle. There are lots of informative articles online. And to help get you started, here’s an easy-to-understand infographic from our friends over at MedAlertHelp.org showcasing a number of important things to know before going gluten-free.

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