A gluten-free diet is an option more people seem to be choosing compared with previous years and this trend. This has been recognised by a wide range of products now available on supermarket shelves to help to cater for them.
For those with coeliac disease, a gluten-free lifestyle is not a choice - it is something they have to abide by. However, others may decide to go down this route in an attempt to lose weight, boost energy levels or lower cholesterol.
Whatever the reason, removing gluten from your diet can present quite a challenge. Foods like bread, pizza, pasta and even burgers and sausages all contain this substance, unless they have been specially made. Even beer contains gluten - so you can understand that it's not easy to cut it out, as it covers such a wide range of different groupings.
However, finding things to eat without compromising this lifestyle is certainly achievable and the benefits are there to be enjoyed
Understand what you're not allowed
One of the hardest tasks is actually avoiding what you're not supposed to be eating in the first place, with many people taking on this diet unwittingly falling foul of the guidelines they are setting themselves.
For this reason, a good deal of research is required to understand what does, as a rule, contain gluten.
You need to get into the habit of checking this when you're doing your shopping. While fruit, veg and salad are all safe to enjoy without worrying, other food may need further investigation. This isn't always because the main contents themselves specifically contain gluten, but sometimes the coating or sauce that accompanies it could.
One of the main antagonists here is processed food, which tends to contain gluten as a bonding agent. However, a quick scan of the ingredients should tell you whether or not this is the case and because more people are now adopting such a diet, you may find this information increasingly easy to find on packaging.
Another easy way of reminding yourself what you can't have is by creating a chart or alphabetic list of everything that needs to be considered off-limits that you can place in your kitchen. This way, when you are cooking or planning your meals you have a reference point so you don't have to rely on internet search engines every time you can't remember.
Once you know what you can and can't have, it's up to you to make the most of the choice of food available.
As a rule, it's easier to make your meals from scratch - reason being that you can control exactly what goes into what you are eating.
In the summer, salads are always a good place to start, as they are healthy and can contain lots of tasty ingredients that you can mix up daily to avoid mealtimes becoming too mundane and routine.
If you're after warmer foods, then a safe fallback is the old reliable baked potato. Why not add a bit of spice with a bean chilli? Omelettes are another great option, as like salads, they allow you to swap and change the filling.
It's getting easier
Even up until a few years ago, life was significantly more difficult for those on a gluten-free diet than it is now.
Thanks to an increasingly successful publicity drive, celebrity chef endorsements and a wider understanding of the issues faced by people living with coeliac disease, gone are the days when you had to use expensive mail-order services just to get a loaf of bread that didn't contain gluten.
Nowadays, gluten-free shelves - and in some cases, aisles - are commonplace in the supermarket, meaning foods like pasta and pizza are no longer off the menu.
With more cash being spent in developing these types of products and an increasing number of consumers demanding them, the costs are also coming down - meaning reaping the benefits of a gluten-free diet has never been easier.