Gluten-Free Meals in a Gluten-Filled House

By Bridget

As is true with my family, most households are not completely gluten-free. Though research bounces back and forth, there seems to be a general consensus that completely eliminating gluten from your diet if you’re not suffering from a gluten intolerance is not necessary, and can actually be detrimental to proper nutrient consumption. Thus the question arises: how do you keep up the gluten-free habits for the sake of one family member, while maintaining a healthy, well-rounded diet for gluten-eating members of your family?

Here are three tips for cooking for your gluten-free family member in a generally gluten-filled house:

  • Keep the “Gluten-Free” for Yourself. For a variety of reasons, so many people start on a gluten-free diet without first doing the proper research. A huge misconception about gluten-free is that it is, in all cases, better for you. Interestingly, however, is the fact that many gluten-free products are actually higher in carbohydrate and calorie due to the different grains that have to be used and processed to make sure they’re gluten-free. Many people think “gluten-free” means “healthy,” but that’s not necessarily true. So tell your friends to stop breaking the bank if they don’t need to be gluten-free. One trick my family uses is cooking everything separately. When we make shrimp scampi, for example, we use one pan for the olive oil, garlic, shrimp, and lemon juice (all gluten-free!) and then make two pots of pasta – one wheat, one corn. Instead of mixing everything together all at once, everyone can enjoy the same meal without being forced to eat (or not eat) gluten!
  • Don’t be a gluten-free martyr. One piece of information I’m constantly working to emphasize with my friends and family is that many whole, unprocessed foods are naturally gluten-free. A meal of roasted potatoes, grilled chicken, and sautéed or steamed vegetables with olive oil, which is a fairly common meal, is completely gluten-free with no special gluten-free labels.
  • When storing food, be sure to keep the Tupperware separate! In my refrigerator, we have transitioned from B-shaped post-it notes that said a food was “Bridget-Friendly” to keeping different colored tops (green for “Go! Gluten-free,” red for “STOP! Gluten-filled!”) or shapes for different contents.  Most Tupperware containers are either circular or square. If cross-contamination is an issue for the gluten intolerant in your household, keep all gluten-free food in circular containers, and gluten-containing food in squares and rectangles. This serves as a quick and easy way to know what is (and isn’t) safe to eat.

Cooking for your whole family can seem like a daunting challenge when you suddenly feel like you need to cook different meals for different people. But paying attention to foods that are gluten-free for all, and knowing how to bridge the gluten-free gap can help streamline the process to keep your family meals healthy and happy!

15 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Meals in a Gluten-Filled House”

  1. I’m the celiac in my house. I’m also the cook. I don’t cook anything with gluten. I don’t buy it. I won’t even walk down the bread aisle in the grocery. I don’t so much as touch it. It’s toxic to us. Why would I handle something toxic. If someone else in the house wants it, they can cook it and clean it up. Otherwise, they eat what I eat.

    We eat very well. I’ve adapted all my recipes to be GF. And have explored several other less glutenous food cultures. We actually eat more varied and nutritiously than we did years ago as I’ve had to become a better cook. I don’t subscribe to this idea that gluten containing foods are more nutritious than gluten free foods. If you go the route of substituting GF foods for all the glutenous foods like pasta, cereals and baked goods you will eat a lot more starches and suffer the consequences. The fact is that wheat is really not that nutritious in and of itself. It is the vehicle used to fortify our collective diet with vitimins, like they put iodine in salt and vitamin D in milk. You can achieve the same with and better with a daily vitamin regimen.

    I believe the best thing a gluten sensitive person can do it get it out of their house. The other people in the house will get less of it in their diet and also benefit. Gluten is not good for anyone, even healthy people. It increases anyone’s propensity for inflamation, which leads to all manner of health issues. Dump the gluen and think about what you’re putting into your mouth, both content and quantity and be better for it.

  2. My husband has celiac disease and I am gluten intolerant. I keep a gluten free kitchen. I didn’t always. If you live in a state with a grocery store that gives their foods a NuVal rating you are very fortunate. We shop at Meijer stores in Michigan and they use the NuVal rating. They have it on the same tag as the price. It is in the top left hand corner in a hexagon. If you are not familiar with the rating google it or go to They rate all foods as to their nutritious content from 1-100 with 100 being best. For instance they rate spinach at 100 and head lettuce much lower. If you look at the gluten free processed foods such as pretzels, etc. you will find that they have a much lower rating with most pretzels being a 1 or 2. This can help you make choices. Gluten free people as well as most of the rest of the population would be better off buying their foods from the perimeter of most grocery stores where the vegetables, fruits, dairy, eggs and meat are and then prepare them in a healthy, perhaps gluten free way. The processed foods, which we all should avoid when possible, are usually in the center of the grocery stores. Happy eating the most nutritious way.

  3. A gluten-free diet lacks some very important nutrients! Do the homework. Gluten-free is low in fiber, B-vitamins, and other important nutrients. It’s important for the GF community to be aware of this and and find foods to provide these nutrients.

  4. Debbie and Diane are both being fooled by big agri. The fact is that the fossil record shows that human height took a severe drop when wheat entered our diet some 10,000 years ago, because IT DOES NOT BELONG IN THE HUMAN DIET! A diet that does not try to reproduce one that is based on wheat is a proven way to eat more healthily.

  5. Debbie and Diane are both being fooled by big agri. The fact is that the fossil record shows that human height took a severe drop when wheat entered our diet some 10,000 years ago, because IT DOES NOT BELONG IN THE HUMAN DIET! A diet that does not try to reproduce one that is based on wheat is a proven way to eat more healthily.

  6. Although it is true that many commercial/processed gluten free products are low in fiber and not enriched with vitamins as many gluten-containing breads and cereals are…a gluten free diet based on gluten-free whole grains, bean and legumes, meats and fish, and fruits and vegetables can be very nutritious and provide for enough dietary fiber

  7. It can’t be taken to any extreme either way. You need to encorperate more fruits and vegies into a gluten free diet to make up for the vitamins and fiber found in wheat. My family is healthier now than ever after being strictly gf for a year! It depends on the cooks ability to provide a huge variety of other foods with or without grains. Going back to the old time way of living off the land and growing your own food is a wonderful healthy way to eat!
    As far as gluten sensitivity goes, I believe it comes from the way they have genetically modified wheat to make it more convenient. Instead of working hard people want it served to them on a silver plater thus we have something that is harder to digest! Every one is different some are intolerant and some aren’t. It can be that way with any food!

  8. Our house is completely gluten free for three members of our family. Two of us can eat gluten, but we only do so at restaurants, friends houses, school, etc. Everything that comes in the house is “safe” for every member of the family – no second guessing or label reading. The two of us who can eat gluten have lunch dates or snack breaks if we really want some bread – but we think it is better for the family as a whole if we keep the house a safe zone.

  9. Elaine is mis-informed. Wheat is one of the grains that has not been geneticllay modified, and is still bred the same old way that grains have been bred for centuries. How would gm make it more convenient anyway? Ignorant comments don’t help our cause with fighting our gluten sensitivity.

  10. I have Celiac and am the cook in our house. I cook all gluten free foods. We do have a shelf in the pantry for gluten prepared items, soups, snacks, etc. I believe this is a good compromise. There are some excellent cookbooks out there and even when I have company most people can’t tell the difference.

  11. Wheat really has little nutritional value. It can have fiber if eating whole wheat, but you get more fiber, pound for pound, from any part of the vegetable that grows above ground. The only reason it has signicant vitamins is because it is fortified by millers who add vitamins to it. We’ve recently learned that athletes, arguably the healthiest of us, remove gluten from their diets when training to reduce the inevitable inflamation caused by severe training. The tells me gluten is bad for everyone. It’s a matter of degree, but how much inflamation supporting food should anyone eat?

  12. I don’t think this is the right place for a “gluten is unhealthy for everyone / gluten is necessary for health” war. No one’s mind will be changed, and we all need to listen to our own bodies and the evidence we find most compelling. There’s a great deal of evidence on both sides, and no reason to call someone names or say they’re being “fooled” by one side or the other.

    I live in a mixed house — my son has celiac, I’m somewhat g-intolerant, my husband feels no ill effects. The only difficulty was the toaster, so we decided that all toast in this house will be GF, threw out the old one (which was on its last legs anyway) and bought a new one.

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