Gluten Free Tip #1: Focus on What You CAN Eat!
Gluten-Free...What Can You Eat?!
When I initially went gluten-free, many people felt sorry for me. I often heard, "Oh, no! What are you going to do without bread?" or "You poor thing, what are you going to eat?!" I still hear similar comments but I always assure people that really, it's okay! The benefits of being gluten-free are so great that I do not feel deprived in any way. Chronic joint pain has vanished. In my past gluten-riddled life, I could not step off a curb without having severe knee pain. In my gluten-free life, I can run up three flights of stairs with no pain or effort. I have not had a stomachache since going gluten-free and I have never felt better.
Gluten can be found in so many foods that the Don't List is much longer than the Do List and this can be daunting. Continue to obsess about the Don't List and you will certainly feel deprived. Focus on the Do List, and be okay with it being a short one.
Famous Dena’s Short List:
- Fresh whole organic eggs.
- Organic chicken breast.
- Organic bison.
- Lean whole meats such as top sirloin and tenderloin. I look for organic and/or grass-fed.
- Fresh, wild-caught seafood.
- Fresh whole vegetables such as: flavorful mixed baby greens, sweet red peppers, crispy cucumbers, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, juicy tomatoes, onions, green beans, tender asparagus, and just about any non-starchy vegetable I like.
- Fresh whole fruit such as: tart apples, oranges, grapefruit, juicy peaches, grapes, all varieties of melons, strawberries, cherries, etc.
- Dark Chocolate.
That is pretty much it and you will agree that the list is short. Give yourself six weeks and it will grow on you. Especially after you start reaping the benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle with no pain or discomfort. If gluten-intolerance is your issue, you will notice the difference immediately. And, you will feel the best you've ever felt.
You will note the focus on fresh, whole, organic foods in their natural state. These foods are guaranteed to be gluten-free and healthy. You will also note the lack of all grains (whether they contain gluten or not) and dairy. What?! Have I totally lost it? Consider these thoughts:
Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten contaminated grains include oats, and many others that are processed in the same plant as wheat, barley, and rye. Of course, there is a wide variety of gluten-free alternatives such as coconut flour, garbanzo bean flour, and a host of pre made goodies like cookies, pizza dough mix, cake mix, and even good old bread. I have found that these gluten-free alternatives simply do not taste that great so they are not really worth eating. So I just go without and I am totally fine. This former sandwich-lover does not miss bread. Really.
While gluten-intolerance is my only dietary complication, I also avoid dairy products. Why? I feel better without them. But what about cheese? After your six weeks of eating from the short list above, cheese just starts to taste too rich. I don't freak out on this, though. If I order a salad at a restaurant and it has goat cheese on it, I will eat it without making a scene. If I am aware that cheese is included, I will usually say no cheese. Every now and then I will have a latte but hardly ever. I don't have any of this stuff in the house, though.
How on earth does someone manage to live on this meager short list? Practice 100-90-10. By this I mean stay 100% gluten-free. This is an all or nothing deal so you cannot “kind of” be gluten-free. An occasional piece of bread or a tiny little bite of a flour tortilla is poison to the gluten-intolerant so just don’t do it. Eat from the short list 90% of the time and allow yourself 10% for treats such as the occasional dish of ice cream, gluten-free pizza, a French fry or two if you can be certain it is not cross contaminated through cooking in oil that has been used to fry breaded fish and the like. Just remember the 100-90-10.
Famous Dena’s Three-bite Rule
You can be certain that there will be days in which 10% freedom to eat gluten-free to your heart’s content is just not going to cut it. Sometimes you just need some gluten-free baked goods, ice cream, and basic junk food. Be kind to yourself on these occasions and you will avoid an all out eating frenzy. Allow yourself three bites. Savor the first bite, which, in your mind, will be the best thing you have ever put in your mouth. Enjoy the second bite slowly. Acknowledge the third bite and stop eating. Studies indicate that, by this time, your taste buds will have become accustomed to the irresistible treat your were so longing for and will no longer cause that feel-good effect in your brain. After that third bite, you are pretty much just eating without receiving that same level of comfort or pleasure that the first two bites provided. Stop eating now and walk away.
I know, I know, it sounds impossible. How will you live without pasta and crackers and bread?! Focus on what you CAN eat and forget about the rest. Your healthy gluten-free lifestyle depends on it!
Stay tuned for My Gluten-Free Lifestyle Tip #2: Accept that it will take longer to shop for groceries until you get the hang of this new lifestyle.