I’ve heard from a few of you out there that you are very new to living gluten free. Knowing this has really made me stop and think about those first few days and weeks and what making that transition was like. It’s got my mind whirling with all sort of tips and advice I want to share with those of you. As I have been writing this post, I realize that each of the areas below could be a post in and of themselves, so I plan to revisit each of these tips in more depth in the future. Here are a few things that I did that helped me and I hope they help you too!
Make a list of all the foods you CAN eat
I know, you hear gluten free and you start to think of all the things that are off limits now. Bread, pizza, crackers, cereals, cake, pie, muffins. I’ll just stop, it sounds depressing even now. And then, you start to learn and realize how many other things gluten is in (or could have cross contamination) – salad dressings? soups? some SYRUPS? Seriously? It’s horribly overwhelming. So, I stopped fretting over what was off-limits and made a list -and a long one! – of what I could eat. Fresh fruits and veggies, most dairy products, meats, beans, nuts…I also went through some of my favorite cookbooks and tagged any recipe that was naturally gluten free. I started to feel some stress melt away.
Read, Read, and Read Some More
A couple books that I recommend are Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Dr Peter H.R. Green and The G-free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide by Elizabeth Hasselbeck. These books will give you a medical understanding of what you are experiencing, as well as practical tips and advice. And then, of course, there are tons of references online you can read. I found myself reading gluten free food blogs more than anything. I highly recommend reading Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. Shauna will make you fall in love with being gluten free!
Give yourself extra time at the grocery store your first trip gluten free (ok, the first few trips!)
The first trip to the grocery store to shop gluten free is not one you want to take the kids along. If anyone, invite someone you know who is an experienced gluten free shopper. If you plan to bake your own breads and baked goods, you will more than likely need to take a trip to the health food store. I haven’t seen a grocer carry all the gluten free flours, starches, and gums you will need. You are going to become well versed at reading labels. Please do not plan to buy all the items you typically buy, just in gluten free form. For one, you probably won’t find everything and secondly, you would spend a fortune. I highly recommend filling your cart with healthy, naturally gluten free items and then picking a couple of gluten free specialty items – crackers, pretzels, etc, to start. Finding the gluten free specialty products you like is going to be trial and error. Don’t spend of ton of money buying them all at once. Give yourself time to learn what you can live without. You might surprise yourself – and your wallet will be happier too! Don’t forget to take along your grocery shopping guide.
Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. Can I just say it again? Meal plan! You will save yourself so much confusion and trouble if you plan your meals and snacks. Yes, it takes some work, but I think you’ll find you enjoy it. You will get to look forward to all the delicious food you will be eating in the coming days and hopefully, you won’t find yourself starting a busy day and realizing you have nothing to eat. If you plan ahead, your trips to the grocery store will be easier (you can do a little research ahead of time) and you won’t break the bank. By planning ahead, you will ensure your home is stocked with food you can eat. I recommend keeping gluten free “grab snacks” like Lara bars, nuts, fruit and veggies on hand at all times. These will save you in a pinch! Focus your first few weeks – or month – on the meals you and your family are used to that are either naturally gluten free or can be with very minor adjustments (cornstarch vs. flour as a thickener). And because it’s summer, let the grill become your new best friend. It’s so easy to make plain old chicken/beef and veggies – even fruit (grilled peaches anyone?) taste amazing on the grill.
Does anyone have an area they would like help with? Have any questions? Have a great tip or some advice you’d like to share? Please leave a comment or email me! I would love to hear from you!