I went gluten-free a couple years ago, after realizing I had a gluten intolerance. (And was officially diagnosed in early 2016 after an EGD and colonoscopy – not fun.) My symptoms included headaches and migraines, 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 necessarily mean easy) and there are a few things to do to aid in your success:
How to go gluten-free
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 food 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. Traditional Cooking School is a gorgeous site with lot of delicious recipes. Eat Beautiful is full of gluten-free (and grain-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.
Great info Nina. We are gluten free in our family of nine. Big pain in the butt initially…but we’ve adjusted. Hey, a great resource is http://www.theceliacdiva.com. She’s the sister of James Garner, my friend and Professor of BRAND at http://www.FreeAgentAcademy.com. He runs and facilitates the diva site and it’s huge.
I found gluten-free recipes for my favorite recipes first so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat the gluten version. It’s been 7 months and I have found I don’t crave mac and cheese or pancakes like I did when I was addicted to gluten. But it was a good plan for the first few weeks as I adjusted.
I love your blog! I have been gluten free for almost two years now and I agree with you that life is easier when you focus on all of the good foods you can eat. I am also dairy-free (allergy). I have a blog called http://www.allergysensitivekitchen.com where I share gluten free and mostly vegan recipes. I would love it it you would check it out and leave me some feedback. Maybe you might find a new favorite recipe. Please keep up the good work.
I am praying this message will be received in the gentle and loving spirit which it is intended. I have read your blog from time to time and have picked up some helpful things. It is clear you have a genuine love for others. However I am saddened and concerned that you have removed references to your love of Jesus. God has given you a large platform and following. I am praying He will revive your heart and your blog to point to Christ and His word, the only healing truly needed.
Thank you Nina, this is a great post, I’m doing my best to go gluten free and it’s hard because I love pasta and miss it, for me rice pasta is just not the same, I don’t know where to find a good gf version
Our daughter found out she had Celiac when she was in her 30’s and then found out that her one year old son also had it. We discovered that a lot that was out there was expensive and wasn’t something we would all want to eat. After much trial and error we developed delicious, easy to use and affordable gluten free baking mixes. Our ingredients are non-gmo and many are also organic. Our Rosemary Focaccia Mix is the number one favorite. We have listened to our customers and are in the process of eliminating the corn starch, as some are also allergic to that ingredient. We will also soon have a muffin mix with no sugar in it at all, so that people are able to add whatever sweetener that they like. We want our product to be as healthy and tasty as possible, and think of each of our customers as we would think of our own family. We have learned so much from them, and we love hearing their stories. Karen from glutenfreeblends.com
Do you have a Trader Joe’s nearby? They have an excellent brown rice/quinoa mix. My whole family likes it and they’re picky about gluten-free stuff (especially my husband). 🙂
That’s awesome, Karen! I’ll check out your site.