Gluten-free Meal Plan
Gluten is a protein found in carbohydrate foods including rye, barley, malt, contaminated oats*, and the many forms of wheat including bulgur, couscous, durum, einkorn, farina, faro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, tabbouleh and triticale. Gluten can also hide in processed foods as an additive to improve texture, taste, and extend shelf life (think chicken broth, salad dressings, veggie burgers, soy sauce, seasonings, spices), and can even be found in some medications. At a restaurant avoid these red flag words which means the item may contain gluten: fried, coated, breaded, crispy, crusted, malt in the form of malt extract, flavorings, malt vinegar, and many Asian-style foods which may contain wheat from soy sauce.
Gluten-free grains include amaranth, millet, teff, corn, gluten free oats*, buckwheat (despite the name, it’s not actually wheat!), and quinoa.
*A note about oats: Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but they are often processed on equipment shared with gluten containing grains, or grown next to gluten containing crops. In order to be certain your oats are gluten free look for ‘gluten-free’ on the label.
The below meal and snack ideas are all gluten-free and appropriate for those with celiac disease, a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, or for those that choose to eliminate gluten for other health reasons.
- Gluten-free products tend to be low in a wide range of important nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber.
- These are all important nutrients during pregnancy and a whole food-based diet will help ensure adequate intake of them. Consider adding nuts, seeds, and nut butters to meals and snacks, incorporating nutrient-rich foods like beans, dark-leafy greens (collards, kale), and tofu, pairing iron-rich foods with vitamin C to increase absorption, and drinking dairy or plant-based milks fortified with calcium.
- In addition, make sure you are choosing whole grains and enriched gluten-free products which contain these nutrients that other gluten-free products may be lacking. Choosing meals and snacks from the below listed options will help you consume a wide variety of foods that will help optimize your nutrition while eating gluten-free.
- Option 1: Gluten-free oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit and nuts
- Option 2: Gluten-free whole grain cereal with banana, low-fat or plant-based milk, and flaxseed
- Option 3: Gluten free PB&J: gluten free whole grain toast with nut butter and 100% fruit spread
- Option 4: Pineapple and kale smoothie: blend ½ cup frozen pineapple, ½ cup milk or milk alternative, and ½ cup kale until smooth
- Option 5: Mediterranean omelet with spinach, tomatoes, and feta cheese; side of grapefruit
- Option 1: Baked sweet potato topped with pulled chicken or lean pork, black beans, and tomatoes
- Option 2: Corn or gluten-free whole grain tortilla wrap with grilled chicken, tomato, black beans, salsa, and shredded cheese; side salad
- Option 3: Cottage cheese with sliced peaches
- Option 4: Romaine lettuce leaves stuffed with light tuna*, avocado, and sliced vegetables (like tomatoes and onions)
- Option 5: Salad with mixed greens, lean protein (chicken, fish, or turkey), and additional veggies of your choice (bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, avocado) with vinaigrette dressing
- Option 1: Baked fish, chicken, or beef with sweet potato and steamed broccoli
- Option 2: Spaghetti squash pesto: (Cut the spaghetti squash in half, remove the seeds, place cut side down on a cookie sheet and roast for 30-45 minutes. Once cooked, scrape out the squash with a fork into strands. Then mix strands with store bought pesto. Optional: add ground beef or turkey to sauce.)
- Option 3: Seared salmon with roasted butternut squash, side salad with vinaigrette dressing
- Option 4: Quesadilla: corn tortilla topped with shredded cheese, peppers, onions, and grilled chicken. Heat over medium low heat until cheese is melted.
- Option 5: Grilled chicken with sautéed kale and yellow onion, served on top of brown rice
- Option 1: Sliced tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper
- Option 2: Plain low fat yogurt with fruit and nuts
- Option 3: Vegetables and hummus
- Option 4: Fruit and nut trail mix
- Option 5: Baked apple with toasted gluten free oats and dollop of plain yogurt
*Pregnant women should eat no more than 6 ounces of high mercury fish per week
For more on this topic, check out the following articles: