My husband and I have been gluten-free for about a year now. He has a gluten intolerance and we decided to try to change our food in order to alleviate some of his symptoms. Our new diet* has worked very well, so well, in fact that it is a part of everyday life for us now. We still get the occasional, "Are you still gluten-free?" question, recognizing the challenge this choice poses; the answer is always, "Yep..." but it is a constant reminder that when it comes to food choices, people often have a hard time committing to such a drastic change and sticking with it.
I am not saying it was entirely easy for us to implement this in our own lives. We had been reading online and through books from the library on how it might help him to feel better, so one night, all of a sudden, we went through every cabinet in the house and de-glutened. We collected bags of pasta, packaged foods, and convenience foods. Before reading the ingredients on each item, I had no concept of how many foods this would include. A gluten-free diet eliminates wheat, barley, and rye. Therefore, wheat flour, which is in many convenience and processed foods, was out. Barley, used for coloring and even in some teas was also gone. I hadn't really considered myself dependent on processed foods until I began this process. Hamburger Helper, soy sauce, most cereals, salad dressings, lunch meats, and even frozen meatballs all had to go! The cleanout felt good, but the very next question was so what are we going to eat now? We removed gluten from our home so spontaneously that we were sure to have a tough following week; and we did. I tried to find basic recipes online to get us through dinners together. I helped him pack gluten-free lunches for work. On his days home with me at work, however, Danny found himself eating peanut butter with a spoon, straight from the jar. This was the saddest and most challenging part of this transition. What could we eat that would be good, good for us, in line with our new goal, and wouldn't take up all day and night preparing? Although it was hard, it got better quickly.
Initially, it was difficult not to feel like we were simply depriving ourselves. (It was especially a challenge for me, because I didn't "need" to do it; I had committed to do it with him as support.) Maintaining a positive attitude and deciding to view it as a choice we've made not to eat gluten, rather than something that was tempting and off-limits really helped. Sometimes, like on weight loss diets, because you tell yourself you can't have something, you tend to want it more. We found that if we told ourselves we are making the choice not to have it, the allure and deprivation aspects were then absent.
A gluten-free diet can help you if you suffer from: Celiac Disease, ADD/ ADHD (youth or adult), Autism, PMS/ PMDD, Eczema, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diabetes, Psoriasis, or Thyroid Issues. Click on the links to find out more information on whether this is something to consider for yourself.
Even since we began our gluten-free journey a year ago, many more companies have begun labeling their foods and food products as gluten-free. If you look for it, you'll find even some of the foods you've always enjoyed are gluten-free. Most fruits and vegetables, as well as whole foods like rice, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, are naturally gluten-free. You've even still got beer choices!
Most recipes, with a little patience (and/or creativity), can be easily converted to be gluten-free. Below are a few things we eat regularly, including a few links to recipes, in case you'd like some ideas to give gluten-free a try.
Breakfast: fruit and veggie smoothies with superfood add-ins, gluten-free cereals, fruit, yogurt
Lunch: soups, salads, leftovers, celery or apples & pb, carrot sticks, nuts, lettuce wrapped wraps, fresh juice
Dinner: fish/ chicken/ meat/ beans, rice/ potato/ sweet potato/ quinoa, vegetables, soups, salads, pizza
Like I mentioned earlier, I was shocked to see how many processed foods we eliminated from our diets by cutting the gluten. Most of the foods we purchase and eat daily are not only gluten-free, but are whole foods--the foods located on the outer edges of the grocery store. The funniest part of this process, once we got used to it ourselves, was how many people comment on your food choices, particularly in the grocery store. Almost every time I shop, I am told how "healthy" my cart is; I've even been told, "you're cart makes me want to go back and get more vegetables..."
If you can begin to shift the way you think about foods and make the decision to reshape what you buy and consume, you will feel good about that choice and you're body will feel good as well.
*The word "diet" here simply means what you eat, not a calorie-counting nightmare. Your diet consists of what you eat more than what you don't eat.
Labels: Body & Mind, Go Ahead--Try It!, Mindful Eating