For people living gluten-free, the constant feeling of missing out can be frustrating. Fortunately, a simple change in mindset can be the difference between a sense of exclusion and embracing a new and exciting menu.
Here are 10 tips for embracing a gluten-free lifestyle from someone in the trenches:
1. Remember: Gluten-Free Living Is Healthy
Gluten has no business in some foods, but it’s used to “pad out” the product. For instance, wheat is used in most commercial soy sauces, yet traditional soy sauce contains no wheat at all. By cutting out sauces and foods that use gluten to water down the genuine ingredients, you’re consuming food without extra additives.
Still, keep in mind that cheap gluten-free products are often more refined than their wheat-y counterparts. Don’t grab something because the label says “gluten-free.” Check for quality. From experience I can tell you that cheap gluten-free bread is awful, and cheap gluten-free cereal is packed full of sugar. So, make sure to choose good, quality products.
2. Substitution Isn’t The Answer
Instead of trying to substitute a crusty roll with gluten-free bread, change the meal altogether. Turn that salad roll into a luscious salad bowl. You’ll get more veggies that way, plus it will taste better.
All fruit, veggies and fresh meat are gluten-free too, so you’ll find many meals are a natural fit thanks to those great ingredients.
3. Your Favorite Dishes Can Be Modified
Love a creamy pasta dish as a winter treat? Me too! Gluten-free pasta is actually really good, and world famous pasta company, San Remo, makes everything from Spirals to Lasagna Sheets. You can find gluten-free pastas in the health food section of most supermarkets or online.
4. Bread Will Change Forever
Realistically, bread will never be the same for you. You won’t be able to grab bakery-fresh bread (unless you’re really lucky where you live!), but that’s okay. You’ll want to toast gluten-free bread unless it’s fresh that day, but who doesn’t love a toasted sandwich? In the peak of summer, try laying your standard sandwich fillings on rice or corn thins for a light lunchtime snack instead. It’s delicious!
5. Google Is Your Friend
Pesky ingredients like maltodextrin and glucose can come from wheat, but the label may not list their origin. Jump on Google and search the product’s name, brand and the term “gluten-free.” The brand’s website will help you find out if it’s safe or not.
Handy hint: Just because a product doesn’t say “gluten-free,” doesn’t mean it’s off-limits. Brands have to pay a lot for the gluten free symbol on their products, so sometimes they go without.
6. Find New Favorites
When you’re entertaining, your friends may be surprised that many gluten-free foods are really delicious! You don’t necessarily have to give up the staples... or the junk food.
Craving pizza and beer? You can drink Budweiser and eat gluten-free Domino’s, if that’s what you want. (Your local pizza shop may make gluten-free pies too, which is way better!)
Want pasta night? Spaghetti bolognese with gluten-free pasta is delicious. You can also try quinoa bolognese for a vegan option.
Hoping to celebrate with birthday cake and sweet? Grab some gluten-free cupcake mix! Or make flourless chocolate brownies.
7. Speak Up
There’s nothing worse than feeling sick after a meal with friends thanks to hidden gluten in a meal you thought was safe. Always ask the waitstaff if your meal is gluten-free or what options are available. If you’re with a big group and embarrassed, excuse yourself before everyone orders and have a chat with the manager about what menu items are safe. Don’t feel bad for piping up and asking. It’s better to speak up than be left feeling ill!
8. Discover The World of Health Foods
Almost all superfoods are gluten-free: Quinoa, amaranth, psyllium husks and chia seeds help you stay fuller for longer and promote good digestive health without gluten or nasties.
9. Take Probiotics
The medical community rarely tells people this, but consuming probiotics is incredibly good for your digestive health. Eating natural, sugar-free yogurt is a great way to keep your tummy healthy or, if you’re lactose-intolerant, try a probiotic supplement. It will make a world of difference.
10. Being Gluten-Free Is Popular
The list of gluten-free celebrities is long: from supermodel Miranda Kerr to Emmy Rossum, from Quarterback Drew Brees to Isaiah Mustafa (the Old Spice guy). Be proud to join the ranks and embrace your new diet. It’s an opportunity to try new things!
--Caitlin Reid. Caitlin Reid. Caitlin Reid is a physical therapist and Pilates consultant. She’s the founder of Aprivé Wellness, a digital wellness brand that blends the worlds of augmented reality, tech and health and fitness. Say “hi” to her anytime at www.aprivewellness.com.