Going gluten-free can seem like a fad these days. But, other than giving up gluten in a diet attempt, some people have to for health reasons. It can have very real benefits for people who suffer from a gluten allergy. A clinical gluten allergy is called celiac disease, and can be found through medical testing. For a person with celiac disease, eating gluten can cause severe damage to the small intestine. Symptoms of celiac disease include stomach pain, bloating, gas, weight loss and diarrhea. But, even if a person has not been diagnosed with celiac disease, he or she may still have a gluten intolerance. For these folks, gluten can cause stomach pain, gas and bloating as well.
That’s why going gluten-free can be so worth it! But it’s difficult. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, which are found in just about everything. Bread, pasta, crackers, even soups and salad dressing can contain gluten. But, don’t let that discourage you. It’s possible to have a gluten-free diet and still feel satisfied.
1. Don’t Try Gluten Substitutes Just Yet
When you first go gluten-free, you may suffer some cravings for everyone’s favorite comfort food: bread. Those cravings are especially why you should avoid gluten-free substitutes for at least the first two weeks.
Gluten-free bread and pasta taste great, but they don’t taste like bread and pasta. If that’s what your taste buds are craving, they’ll be sorely disappointed. Let the cravings die down before venturing down that gluten-free aisle.
2. Focus on What You Can Eat
Everyone wants what they can’t have. If you start making a list of all the things you have to avoid, those are going to be the things you’re going to crave. Don’t dwell on the negatives, think about the positives!
Meat is gluten-free. Hello, steak night! Lots of organic dairy is gluten-free, too. Hello, ice cream! Fruits, vegetables, brown rice… you’ve got a lot of options, sister.
Plus, a gluten-free diet is almost always healthier by necessity. Not only will your stomachaches stop, chances are you’ll be eating better and fresher than you ever have before. This could be just the kick in the pants you need!
3. Don’t Go Out to Eat Just Yet
Until you’re well-versed about what gluten-free is and what isn’t, trying to find gluten-free menu items at a restaurant can feel impossible. Save yourself the frustration and give yourself a learning period. Cook at home for the first two weeks and read and research as much as you can.
Find the restaurants in your area that have gluten-free options. To be successful, you have to become a bit of an expert. Give yourself time to do that.
4. Read Labels
Once you know the code words for gluten, (wheat, barley, rye, soy, etc., ) you’ll need to turn into a label hawk. Even things it might seem would never logically have gluten might be hiding it well. For instance, some pre-packaged meat or fish with seasoning on there could contain gluten.
Even many pre-packaged lunch meats have gluten! Know what you’re looking for and expect to spend more time at the grocery shop than before.
Going gluten-free is just not for the faint of cardiovascular, but it can be a lifesaver for the faint of stomach. If you’re willing to put the work in, you could see a dramatic improvement in your wellbeing. Have some grace for yourself in those first couple of weeks and you’ll be well on your way.