Image by Andrea_Nguyen
I went gluten-free a couple years ago, after realizing I had a gluten intolerance. My symptoms included headaches, a rash, acne and constant stomach aches. Since making that discovery, I’ve been avoiding gluten (I’ll admit, I slip up) and working on healing my body so that I can one day eat it without problems.
Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned that going gluten-free is pretty simple (remember, simple does not mean easy) and there are a few things to do to aid in your success:
Get Rid of the Gluten
This may seem like a given, but it’s important to say. If you’re trying to go gluten-free, get all gluten-y products out of your house! Or you will be tempted to eat them. And then you’ll find yourself curled up in a ball in your closet, scratching the rash that’s just flared up again. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything …
If getting rid of gluten isn’t possible (if you’re the only one in your family going gluten-free), try to put all of those products in one place that’s out of your way. Out of sight, out of mind. Or at least, out of sight.
If you’re not already, this is a great time to start reading labels. Generally, if a food is labeled gluten-free, it’s safe, but there are a lot of foods that may have gluten in them, that you’re probably not aware of. In addition to avoiding things like barley, spelt, triticale, wheat (and wheat products like graham flour, bulgur, semolina, etc.), also read labels on things like:
- Soy Sauce
- Salad Dressings
- Sauces (usually because of thickeners)
- Chicken/Beef Base
These are just a few foods to be aware of. If you’re eating a real foods diet, this will be easier to do, as you’re probably making almost everything from scratch. If you’re still in transition from processed foods, though, read every label.
One of my biggest challenges is visiting my parents’ house. They have so many delicious goodies full of gluten. When I don’t plan ahead, it’s easy to give in to temptation (as much as I know it will hurt later). The best way to avoid that is by bringing food I enjoy and can eat instead.
Whether you’re going grocery shopping or having dinner with friends, it’s a good idea to bring some gluten-free food with you. If we’re going to eat with friends or family, I’ll offer to help out with a side and/or dessert and “just happen” to bring a gluten-free dish.
If I’m out and about, I’ve learned to pack simple gluten-free snacks like:
- Hardboiled eggs
- Veggie and cheese sticks
- Apples and almond butter
- Gluten-free crackers and hummus
Find Gluten-Free Resources
Thankfully, the web puts so many excellent resources at your fingertips. If you’re desperately searching for gluten-free recipes that taste good or you just want to try something new, I highly recommend Pinterest. A simple search for “gluten-free” will have you drooling in no time. If you follow me on Pinterest, check out my Gluten-Free board for some tasty inspiration.
There are also some great blogs out there devoted to gluten-free cooking. Lexie’s Kitchen is a gorgeous site with lot of delicious looking recipes. Real Sustenance is full of gluten-free goodness. Health, Home and Happiness is another great blog that really helped me when I went gluten-free.
Focus on the Goodness You Can Have
One of the hardest parts about going gluten-free was watching other people eat the stuff I couldn’t. I would daydream about eating a slice of sourdough toast slathered with butter. Mmmm, butter.
What makes it easier? Stop focusing on what you can’t have. Instead, focus on all of the goodness still available to you. A lot of people say to me, “Wow, you can’t eat anything can you?” I used to frown and say, “No, I really can’t.” Now, I reply, “You know, I actually get to enjoy a lot of really good food.”
A little shift in attitude can make any difficult situation seem better.