When Marlow put out her call for guest posts I was excited to volunteer for the opportunity. What better way to connect with other gluten free folks than through another gluten free blogger? I know that in the past year social media has helped broaden my food horizons and vary my pantry.
It seems like almost every day I hear about someone – a friend, acquaintance, friend’s friend, etc. – who is turning to a gluten free diet. With people like Chelsea Clinton and Elizabeth Hasselbeck eating gluten free, our way of eating is gaining notoriety across America and the world. However, I believe that it’s one thing to go gluten free by choice and yet another to be forced into a gluten free lifestyle.
I was born with a gluten intolerance that went undiagnosed until the end of 1st grade. Up until that point I had a slew of health problems that the doctors couldn’t figure out. I wasn’t growing or thriving, my growth was stunted, and I was an unhappy camper with stomachache after bouts of nausea followed by more stomach aches.
My switch to gluten free was a blessing for me and I know that this is how many folks with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances feel once they eliminate gluten from their diet. I was once again reminded of that feeling 3.5 years ago when my intolerance turned more severe.
Foods that I used to tolerate no longer agreed with me and stomachaches, fatigue, and other symptoms arose. I made a vow, as an independent young professional to really own my health and be diligent about the foods I was putting into my body. I had access to a full kitchen, which I did not have in college as well as the freedom to select the meals, and snacks I would be preparing for myself.
After committing myself to eat strictly gluten free I remember feeling lost walking through the grocery store. As I know that more and more people are learning how to eat gluten free, I wanted to share my Top 5 Tips for Getting Started Eating Gluten Free:
1. Don’t forget about what you can eat. Some of the healthiest foods are naturally gluten free. Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and nuts pack a nutritional punch!
2. Carry emergency snacks. Store them in your car, your purse or backpack, your desk, etc. If you have foods with you there’s never a need to worry if you get delayed, hunger strikes, or are somewhere you can’t find a safe gluten free option.
3. Just because you eat gluten free doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Make sure to pack a variety of foods that travel well and can be eaten at any time of day. Fruit strips, bars like Larabars, dried fruits and nuts, cereal or granola, nut butter packets, crackers, etc. could all be eaten for a meal or snack. It's better than getting stuck empty-handed! (this goes hand-in-hand with #2)
4. Ask for help. The staff at many grocery stores is a wealth of knowledge for those times when you aimlessly wonder the aisles wondering what you can possibly eat. Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes prominently label many aisles and products that are gluten free which makes grocery shopping infinitely easier. If you find an item that’s not clearly labeled, make sure to read the ingredients label! Even if a product is “safe” it may be processed in a facility where cross-contamination could occur. If you decide to purchase one such product, you should do so knowing what
5. Create and utilize a strong support system. Whether its friends, family, co-workers, bloggers, etc. don’t be afraid to ask for help. The internet can be a great resource yet sometimes overwhelming if you are just getting started. Take a friend to the grocery store, experiment with a new recipe in the kitchen and share it with loved ones, or just talk. You may realize that eating gluten free can open the doors to new kinds of food and that some of your favorites can still be made, just with a gluten free twist.
What are your tips for folks starting out on a gluten free diet?