Don’t be too sad; yes, this is going to require a major change of pace but it’s entirely possible and it’s not all cardboard tasting food and loads of protein. You can have a great variety of food to satisfy all palates and still maintain a gluten-free lifestyle.
The first thing you need to do is understand exactly what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in some grains but predominantly in wheat, rye and barley. People who have Celiac Disease are unable to process/ break down that protein and that causes a variety of issues which may vary from person to person.
The next step is to eliminate all gluten from your home. Read every label. If you’re unsure of an ingredient name, google it. This will help ensure that you have no gluten slips once you start to change your eating habits and it also forces you to pay more attention to what you buy and how you buy your food in the future. When you’re in the supermarket; read all labels. ALL LABELS. Do not assume something is gluten-free because it is supposed to naturally be gluten-free for instance; salted peanuts. Peanuts and salt do not naturally contain gluten so it’s easy to assume that you just pick up a packet of peanuts and be okay. This is incorrect; some companies process peanuts on the same facilities as grains i.e. gluten and some use gluten to flavor or bind food.
I advise people who are starting their gluten-free journey to go cold turkey for a few months or at least until they feel self-sufficient with no gluten-free substitutes. Yes. I mean no bread, pasta, junk food and gluten filled delights. For people who suffer from a gluten allergy or sensitivity; it will be almost like detox from a drug. I had ups and downs and was very emotional; my weight fluctuated for a few months then evened out. I would estimate that it took me about 6-7 months to purge. I started feeling more energetic, happy and well over all. It’s a tough start but stick with it, you have all the time in the world to try out all the awesome gluten-free foods on the market.
Don’t be ashamed to ask questions when you eat out and do your research. I rely on Yelp, Seamless and other review based sites to help steer me to restaurants that are friendly to people who are gluten-free or have food sensitivities. I also rely on building a rapport with my server, informing them politely about my intolerance and asking if they have a gluten-free menu or options. Generally I know this information before I get there but it’s good to be personable about it. Restaurants want you to have a good experience and being sure to inform them of your allergy isn’t annoying, don’t feel weird to do it. Like with processed food, you can not assume that a dish doesn’t have an element that sneaks gluten into something that you think is gluten free.
Take vitamins. Make sure vitamins don’t have gluten. Yes. Some of them do. Check your protein powder and be sure to let your pharmacist know. There are quite a few otc and popular prescription meds that sneak gluten in there; letting your pharmacist know and reminding them when you have a new prescription is the way to go. If you’re at the drug store and you’re unsure, speak up. They are there to help.
Going out to eat with friends? Offer to choose the place and look for places that have a regular menu and gluten free options; this way you don’t put the responsibility on your friends all the time to remember about your allergy / plan around it. This does not have to ruin your social life. I promise.
Mourn the loss of the foods you’ll never have again. You have to. It’s not weird at all. The only solace I can offer is that after two years, I’m starting to forget what some things tasted like so I don’t miss them as much. I also eat a balance diet and live a big city so I have lots of options also there have been so many strides made in the wave of gluten-free substitutions for every day things like bread so, once you get out of your purge; it’s not that bad. It’s just different.
All in all, this is for the best. You’ll feel better. For those of you with a severe enough allergy/ intolerance or suffered terribly from the reaction of gluten, you’ll never be tempted. Not when you realize that your body SHOULD feel like.
Best of luck to you.
P.S. If this post was a drinking game, you would have to drink every time you read gluten-free. Ha. You’d be drunk. 😀