Whether you are new to a gluten-free diet or have been following this way of eating for a while, the new year is a great time to reflect on a few common pitfalls and determine how to turn them into next year’s success stories.
Did you get stuck starving with no gluten-free food in sight? This year, take the extra time to plan ahead!
Over 32 percent of those we surveyed using food to improve their symptoms or health say they have skipped an event (e.g., social, school, work, other) because they were worried they wouldn’t have access to safe or appropriate food. Find yourself heading to a party and not sure what’s on the menu? If they are a close friend or family, don’t be afraid to call ahead or volunteer to bring something gluten-free that everyone can enjoy.
Still not convinced? Best to eat something before you go just to be safe. Keep your house stocked and ready to go at all times for a quick meal or snack. Create a pantry, fridge and freezer list and use on-line shopping to receive a weekly delivery of staple foods. Stash some gluten-free bars or trail mix in your car so you are never stuck starving or worse risk eating something with gluten out of pure necessity!
PLAN AHEAD! The #1 reason people using food as medicine say they find it difficult to follow their dietary restrictions is because “food is not available or cooked properly out (restaurants, social or work events)”.
Did you eat too much gluten-free junk in 2018? This year, gradually add more whole foods onto your plate.
When first diagnosed with a gluten allergy or intolerance, it’s common to fall for every product labeled “gluten-free” on the market. But beware, these foods are often loaded with chemicals and can cause other health problems. Keep the ingredient list to a minimum. Less processed gluten-free foods are trending in the new year including new breads and flour blends. To increase intake of whole foods, try taking an online or local cooking class to improve your skills in the kitchen. This gives you the flexibility to cook with a variety of fresh produce that is naturally gluten-free. Indulge in a new chef’s knife or fun kitchen gadget like a citrus press or spiralizer for your veggies. Improving your skills and upgrading your kitchen tools can make cooking at home not only safe but fun too.
Slip into denial about how awful gluten makes you feel? Don’t forget why you went gluten-free to begin with before letting it sneak back onto your plate.
Those with celiac typically see an immediate reaction after being “dosed” but for those on the more sensitive-side, it’s easy to forget just how bad gluten can make you feel. Next time you think a little bit won’t hurt, remember the bloating, rash, digestive distress, joint pain or worse that may accompany the gluten in your meal. Still feeling a bit off? Perhaps going gluten-free isn’t enough to address all your symptoms. Learn to listen to your body and the messages it sends you. Perhaps dairy, corn, soy or rice may be the culprit to your recent food reaction. Keep a food diary, use trial and error and elimination to map symptoms back to a specific food(s) and play detective to find the problem. You’re probably already in tune with your body already having enjoyed the benefits of taking gluten out already!
Stuck in a food rut eating the same foods? Try expanding your palette in 2019!
Too many times, we focus on all the foods we can’t eat instead of highlighting all the amazing foods included in a gluten-free diet. Make a list of all the veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds you enjoy (and maybe forgot about) and add new one’s onto your shopping list each week. Begin experimenting with a few new foods not currently in your rotation. Instead of broccoli or cauliflower, try Romensco, a light green combination of both. Instead of your typical gluten-free mix for pancakes, try a new paleo or cassava flour blend. Add some lentils to your favorite soup or replace your gluten-free oatmeal with hot quinoa and maple syrup. Making small changes one bite at a time helps keep meal-time interesting and healthy for years to come.
Did eating gluten-free leave you feeling a little left out? This year find your gluten-free tribe!
Look outside your current circle of family and friends to find support for your gluten-free diet. Perhaps a co-worker, fellow parent in your child’s grade or neighbor has been gluten-free for years and can shed some advice. Approximately 50 percent of people have not told someone about their health condition or dietary restriction because they didn’t want to be judged. Consider hiring a health coach to support your transition to eating gluten-free and learn how to avoid cross-contamination. Consult on-line communities with questions and share your own lessons learned, challenges, and suggestions for success to help someone else. You won’t realize how far you’ve come in your own transition to gluten-free until you see the rewards of paying it forward.
Over 50 percent say they found “talking to others who had a similar problem/diet” most helpful when transitioning to a diet with restrictions.
Sometimes trial and error are the best way to learn and grow. Diet mistakes made in 2018 are like any other mistakes, they help us realize what we really need (and don’t need) to make the year ahead even better and stronger than last year.
Marissa Costonis is a Health Change Guru. She works as a Certified Health Coach to help clients transform their own eating habits and health one bite at a time. Marissa is author of the new Amazon #1 bestseller, Change BITES, 5 Change Management Strategies to Transform Your Health.