The best advice you need on how to start your gluten free life!
When you find out that you need to maintain a lifelong gluten-free diet you probably have mixed feelings. You ask yourself the questions: why you? why not someone else? Then you probably think: oh it’s easy, you’ll lose weight and the diet will help you stay fit for the rest of your life.
For whatever reason you need to live gluten-free, it’s harder than you think at the beginning, I’m not gonna deny it.
BUT! With lots of education and planning, it’s easy and enjoyable. You just have to get used to this new form of living and so do your family and friends.
How to start this new lifestyle? See these tips that helped me personally a lot:
1. Start with your kitchen. You have to go through your whole pantry and label each and every single item- gluten-free and not GF. You have to be very precise and read the ingredients list.
Why? It happened to me that I thought: it’s just dried basil- it must be gluten-free. But then I saw on the package: ” it may contain traces of gluten”. You can’t have that for sure! That spice is most probably cross-contaminated and you have to avoid that 100%. Take your time and read the labels properly!
Check your utensils and get rid of the wooden spoons and chopping boards and replace them with plastic ones. Or just get some new ones for yourself and mark them GF.
Get a separate toaster or sandwich press ( whatever you use now ) for yourself. You need it to avoid cross-contamination.
Also, get separate butter for yourself because of the potential cross-contamination that the knife can cause if used on a non-GF bread. I know! I haven’t thought of it either…
2. If living GF is a medical necessity, then find a good dietitian or gastroenterologist. They can help you with a lot of good advice and help you maintain your GF life and track it continuously.
3. Join support groups on social media – you’ll see how much help and advice you’ll get from people who’ve been living GF for a while. It means a lot for “beginners ” who feel lost at the start.
4. Check out your favorite grocery stores and find their gluten-free products. Create a new shopping list for yourself to start with.
I recommend finding the shops’ own branded products- a lot of them are way much cheaper than the other brands and a big % of the time very delicious as well. Be prepared that GF foods are nearly double the price than the plain products.
For that reason find products which are naturally gluten-free and not labeled GF to save some bucks for yourself. Aim for fresh produce ( meat, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes) and dairy products. Most of the prepacked stuff is high in sugar anyway and you’re not starting a journey to gain weight here. Trust me, it’s very easy if you eat bread, pasta, and cookies all the time. Just because it’s gluten-free, it’s still high in carbs and sugar.
And don’t get confused! Wheat-free is not gluten-free. Check the labels properly!
5. Check your vitamins, medicines and even cosmetics or shampoo.
I had to change one of my multivitamins because it contained wheat. With regards to your cosmetics- there are people who have a horrible reaction if their skin meets gluten. Watch out for your makeup, creams, shampoo and even hair coloring products! These can all absorb through your skin, it’s not a joke.
6. If you have celiac disease, get your immediate family members checked! Did you know that your immediate family members have a 1 in 10 chance of having the condition as well
7. Eating out: always ring the restaurant before you head there. Check if there are options for you there. Also, learn the questions you need to ask when eating out! Explain to the waiter what your needs are and if you have to get the chef out, do so! Don’t worry about what they think and don’t feel embarrassed! This is about your health and well-being!
8. Talk to your immediate family members and friends about this life-changing situation. It’s very important for them to know what changes you have to do in your diet and for them how they can support you.
Educate your family about the potential risk of cross-contamination in your kitchen so they can pay attention to it and avoid it. Tell your friends that from this point you have to do a bit more preparation before you head out together for a dinner. If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand it.
My biggest advice to you (and this is something that happened to me, unfortunately): if there is an event you’re invited to, talk to the organizer and remind them about your dietary requirements. You don’t want to end up starving all night because you were scared to say something. I think the worst scenario is when your friends are aware of you being GF and they just don’t care.
Can I tell you? It’s a horrible feeling and I don’t wish that on anyone. Trust me, it happened to me that I went to a party and one of the organizer’s immediate family member was a celiac and they just didn’t care if I have something to eat or not. Actually, I felt embarrassed to speak to the chef and order something off the menu for myself when the organizer should’ve felt this way. Anyway, you live and learn I guess…
9. Buy some gluten-free muesli and protein bar to have it with you all the time. You don’t want to end up in a situation that you won’t make it home on time, you’re starving and have nothing with you to eat.
Don’t forget, it’s not that easy anymore to grab something to eat on the go!
10. There are so many great apps for gluten-free recipes, eating out options and supporting information- download them on your phone to have it handy anytime you need them.
Good luck on this journey! It will be challenging sometimes but a lot of fun as well for sure.
Please share with me your story below by typing it in the comment section.