8 Tips for Going Gluten Free
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So you just found out that you have to start eating gluten free, what now?
I can remember feeling completely overwhelmed and lost when my doctor told me I needed to start eating gluten free almost four years ago.
I didn’t know the first thing about eating gluten free and all the doctor did was hand me a massive list of things I could no longer eat.
I was certain I would only be eating salad for the rest of my life, and for the first two weeks, that’s pretty much all I did eat. I was starving and miserable.
I eventually stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided to start researching everything I could about this new way of eating.
I was determined to master gluten free cooking so my family and I wouldn’t feel like we were missing out on all the delicious gluten filled food that we used to eat.
It has been a long journey to get to where I am now, but I finally feel like there really isn’t anything that I can’t make gluten free.
About 2 years after I started my gluten free journey, I realized that I had a ton of knowledge collected in this area and needed to share it.
If I could help someone going through a similar journey to feel a little less overwhelmed and alone then I needed to try.
So today I am sharing 8 Tips for Going Gluten Free that I wish I had known when I first found out I had to start eating gluten free. So let’s get to it!
1. Stick to meals that are naturally gluten free at first
When I first went gluten free, I fell into the trap of thinking “gluten is in EVERYTHING so there is nothing I can eat anymore”.
This just simply is NOT true.
There are so many meals that are naturally gluten free or just require really small tweaks to make them that way.
Take yourself back to the basics, protein, veggies, potatoes, etc. There are so many meals you can make with the most basic types of food.
It will take you some time to get used to eating this way, so find a handful of super simple, naturally gluten free meals that you can make while you are figuring out the more complicated recipes or diving into gluten free baking.
I have a ton of naturally gluten free recipes on the blog if you need some to get you started. This link will take you right to them. *Easy Gluten Free Meals*
2. Meal Planning and prep is crucial
One of the biggest struggles I had when I first went gluten free is running out of food that I could eat.
It’s a terrible feeling when you have nothing prepared in the house that you can eat so meal planning has been crucial to my success. It’s also super simple to do.
Usually on the weekend, I will make a list of the meals I want to make that week including breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Once I have my meal plan, I will do some basic prep work so I am ready to take on the week.
This usually includes cutting up veggies, packing snacks, making sauces, or really anything that I can do quickly ahead of time to make my week a little bit easier.
I will also make a large meal on the weekend so that I have a few days worth of lunches ready to go.
If you need more help with meal planning and prepping, click here for my 3 Step Easy Meal Planning Process.
3. Pinterest is your best friend
If you do not have a Pinterest account, you NEED one. It’s such an amazing way to find and organize recipes.
Below is a list of the boards that I have on my personal Pinterest account.
I’ve found this to be an awesome way to keep track of all of the recipes I have tried and love as well as the recipes I still want to try.
You’re boards essentially become your own customized recipe book full of the recipes you love.
- Recipes to try – pin recipes you want to try. Once you have tried the recipe, if you like it, pin it to one of your other boards to keep it organized or delete if you didn’t like it.
- Gluten Free Dinners
- Gluten Free Breakfasts
- Gluten Free Lunch
- Gluten Free Dessert
For a more in depth look into how I utilize Pinterest, view my 5 Steps to Organize Pinterest for Easy Meal Planning post here.
4. Find a new guilty pleasure
When you first go gluten free, it’s easy to think about all of the food you can no longer have and that thought can be very upsetting.
You are probably thinking you will never have some of your favorite treats ever again.
I promise that is not the case, but until you get the hang of all of this, find a new guilty pleasure.
Whether that be a gluten free sweet from the store or a delicious gluten free baked good you make at home, you need something to help you feel like not all is lost.
One of my go to gluten free guilty pleasures is gluten free “Oreo’s”. KinniToos Gluten Free Chocolate Sandwich Creme Cookies are AMAZING and taste like the real deal to me.
They definitely helped me to feel a little more “normal” during this whole process (life can’t be too bad when you still have “Oreo’s”, right?).
I have a bunch of gluten free dessert recipes on the blog as well if you need some ideas. Those recipes can be found here.
5. Find a support group to join
It’s so easy to feel alone when you are going through this.
Chances are you don’t have many people in your life that are gluten free that will understand what you are going through so it’s critical to find people that do.
I actually didn’t know about online support groups for food allergies until a couple years after finding out about my food allergies and they were a game changer!
Not only have I learned a TON from these people, but I also get to share my experiences, successes and failures. Below are a few of the Facebook groups I am apart of that have been extremely helpful.
6. Gluten Free does NOT mean it’s healthy
There is a HUGE misconception that eating gluten free will make you lose weight or be healthier.
Just because something is labeled Gluten Free does not mean that it is healthy!
Most gluten free processed food is just as bad if not worse than some of the gluten filled processed foods.
A lot of the gluten free processed foods are full of sugar and other additives to help with taste.
Now don’t get me wrong, you can absolutely lose weight going gluten free, but you aren’t going to do that if you replace all of your food with the pre-packaged/processed gluten free foods at the store.
Sticking to whole food meals and avoiding processed food can help you reach your health goals whether you are gluten free or not.
I’ve personally been able to lose a lot of weight (150 lbs) eating gluten free, but this is because I cook almost all of our meals at home now from scratch and don’t eat out at restaurants nearly as much as I used to. I also cut out dairy and most refined sugars which made a huge difference.
I still enjoy the processed treats, but in moderation.
7. Learn how to read labels
I was shocked when I first started reading labels and realized how many things have gluten in them.
I mean, is it really necessary to have gluten in spices, sauces, and even beauty products like shampoo?!
There are so many ingredients that can have hidden gluten and the label might not always say contains wheat.
This list from “Natural Healthy Concepts” was a big help for me when trying to figure out what other ingredients to avoid.
I try to only purchase food that is certified gluten free or only contain a few ingredients so I know exactly what I am eating.
You also have to keep any eye out for foods that have potential cross contamination.
Things like rice and oats that are naturally gluten free are often times processed in a facility that also processes wheat products.
This can lead to cross contamination and make you sick. So be sure to buy the certified gluten free brands.
8. Find the silver lining
This is probably one of the toughest pieces of advice to follow.
When you first find out that you need to start eating gluten free, you are going to feel so many emotions.
It’s absolutely OK to feel all the feels! I needed some time to grieve, be angry, be sad, and feel sorry for myself.
Once I was done with all of that, I got to work, figured out this new way of living, and started seeing the good in all of this, the silver lining.
Before my food allergies, I was EXTREMELY unhealthy. I was obese, very rarely cooked at home, ate out all the time, and knew nothing about the food I was putting into my body.
My food allergies forced me to start looking at the food I was putting into my body and learn how to cook. It took a long time, but I also stopped turning to food as my first source of comfort.
Family functions were no longer just about the food for me, but the time I was spending with my family.
I now know so much about nutrition that I can pass on these good habits to my children and they will have a healthy relationship with food from the start unlike I did. That’s a big deal for me.
So find your silver lining and remind yourself of it when you are feeling down or sorry for yourself, which still happens to me to this day.
I promise you it does get easier and you will figure out how to make delicious food again, just with different ingredients!!