Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you’ve seen the rise of the gluten free phenomenon. I first learned about gluten intolerance when we found out my uncle had celiac disease (an extreme intolerance to gluten). That was about 15 years ago, when the gluten free options were lacking, to say the least. Now, there are so many delicious gluten free products out there, and just as many amazing gluten free recipes. I’ve heard from a number of my gluten free friends that lunch can be the toughest meal to swing. Whether you have a gluten free allergy, are gluten intolerant, or are looking to cut gluten out of your life to feel better, we’ve rounded up 30 gluten free lunch ideas (and snacks) for the whole family!
What is Gluten?
Put simply, gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye and barley. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, and is found in many foods, some of which you might not expect. Foods that contain gluten include bread, pizza, baked goods, cereal, French fries, pastas, soups, sauces, and even some supplements and medications. It’s hidden in many foods, even ones like soy sauce and condiments, so always make sure to check labels before you buy.
What are the Symptoms of a Gluten Allergy?
1. Digestive Problems
If you notice you have pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea after eating foods with gluten, you could very well have a gluten allergy. If you’re experiencing these problems, take notice of what you recently ate and see if cutting gluten out helps your digestive issues.
2. Foggy Brain
People who are allergic to gluten often experience brain fog, and are unable to think clearly and perform tasks. People with brain fog often feel tired and may fumble in conversation when they’re normally very well spoken. You could be experiencing brain fog if you’re unable to concentrate, you have problems with attentiveness, you have lapses in short-term memory and experience forgetfulness. You may also experience confusion or disorientation.
People with gluten allergies are especially prone to headaches and migraines. You may want to consider keeping a food journal to determine what you’re eating that’s giving you a headache. Write down everything you eat and when you get a migraine. You’ll start to notice trends and can determine whether gluten may be causing your headaches.
What are the Symptoms of a Gluten Intolerance?
A gluten intolerance is when your body isn’t able to digest or break down gluten. People with intense gluten intolerance, such as those with coeliac disease, develop inflammation and damage in their intestinal tract and other parts of the body.
1. Abdominal Pain After Eating Gluten
Most people with gluten intolerance experience severe abdominal pain after they consume gluten. One of my roommates in college was gluten intolerant and if she ate any gluten at all she would keel over in pain. Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of a gluten intolerance.
You may not think that what you eat can affect you psychologically, but it absolutely can. People with digestive issues, and especially those with celiac disease have been found to have increased depression and anxiety.
3. Unexplained Weight Loss
If you’ve noticed you’re losing weight without trying, you shouldn’t ignore it. Unexplained weight loss is one of the main symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. This is due to various digestive problems, poor nutrient absorption, and also not eating because you’re scared of being in pain when you do eat.
People who are gluten intolerant are very prone to fatigue and tiredness, especially after eating gluten. Gluten intolerance can also cause iron-deficiency anemia, which leads to even more fatigue and a lack of energy.
5. Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin rash that develops due to an autoimmune reaction to gluten, also known as celiac disease. If you notice really itchy groups of small blisters on your scalp, elbows, knees, back or buttocks, it could mean you have dermatitis herpetiformis from a gluten intolerance.
8 Benefits of Removing Gluten From Your Diet
Now that we’ve looked at symptoms of having a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance, take a look at 8 benefits of eliminating gluten from your diet.
1. Increased energy levels
2. Healthy digestive system
3. Healthy weight and weight loss
4. No more brain fog
5. Clears up bad skin and rashes
6. Feel happier all around
7. Elimination of many processed foods
8. Improves cholesterol levels
If you’re thinking of going gluten free and want your family to follow suit, here are 30 gluten free lunch and snack ideas for the whole family!
10 Gluten Free Lunch Ideas for Kids
1. Crispy Chicken Strips | Stay at Home Mum
2. Sandwiches on a Stick | Ingredients Inc.
3. Gluten Free Meatballs | Planning with Kids
4. Prosciutto and Egg Roll-Ups | Nom Nom Paleo
5. Gluten and Dairy Free Pizza Twists | Angela’s Kitchen
6. Almond Crusted Fish Sticks | Magnifique
7. Gluten Free Instant Noodle Cups | Gluten Free on a Shoestring
8. Apple Super Salad | Daily Bites
9. Gluten Free Pizza Bombs | Petite Allergy Treats
10. Sushi for Kids | Allergy Free Alaska
RELATED: 90 Gluten-Free Recipes for Kids
10 Gluten Free Bagged Lunch Ideas for Adults
1. Hummus Vegetable Wraps | Emilie Eats
2. Grilled Chicken and Veggie Bowls | Picky Palate
3. Avocado Tuna Salad | Cook Eat Paleo
4. Stuffed Potato Cakes | Ela Vegan
5. Spaghetti Squash Taco Bake | Bless Her Heart Ya’ll
6. Gluten Free Veggie Sandwich | The Healthy Apple
7. Baked Paleo Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce | Allergy Free Alaska
8. Gluten Free Calzones | Frugal Farm Wife
9. Prosciutto Wrapped Mini Frittata Muffins | Nom Nom Paleo
10. Vegan Lentil Enchiladas | Ela Vegan
RELATED: 100 Family-Friendly Gluten-Free Recipes!
10 Gluten Free Snack Ideas Everyone Loves!
1. Homemade Fruit by the Foot | Against All Grain
2. Avocado Deviled Eggs | Healthy Little Foodies
3. Thai Spring Rolls | No Biggie
4. Zucchini Cauliflower Fritters | The Big Man’s World
5. Coconut Almond Chewy Bars | Sandi’s Allergy Free Recipes
6. Roasted Pizza Chickpeas | Rise Shine Cook
7. Cheesy Cauliflower Muffins | Kirbie’s Cravings
8. Peanut Butter Quinoa Chia Bars | Greeny Sherry
9. Easy Kale Chips | Cook Eat Paleo
10. Gluten Free Apple Dumplings | Gluten Free on a Shoestring
It’s not hard to live a gluten free lifestyle anymore. If you have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, or want to go gluten free for other reasons, these recipes will keep you satisfied every day of the week.