Change Your Diet, Change Your Life. Gluten Free Living.
How to Get There
More people are learning that they are gluten sensitive. Even more people find it difficult to give up gluten and live a gluten free lifestyle, no matter the outcome.
What if you could feel healthier than you have ever felt before? What if you no longer had joint pain, indigestion, and a general sluggish feeling every day? All of this is possible with a gluten free diet. I hesitate to use the word diet here, because living gluten free is not really a "diet" as Americans have come to know diets. It is a lifestyle. A way of living. And it is possible to get there.
Have you tried to eliminate gluten, only to go back to your standard American diet? You may have even gone on and off the gluten "wagon" several times, only to finally throw in the towel and give it up. After all, the standard American diet does not lend well to gluten free living. Besides, what are you supposed to eat on a gluten free diet?! It seems like no fun at all.
Allow Yourself the Time to Go through the Transition
Let's face it. There are very few life changes that happen over night. Transitioning to a gluten free lifestyle is not one of them. Allow yourself the time to go through the transition. You are walking into a huge learning curve and you need to cut yourself a break.
My early days of gluten free living involved a lot of sauces and condiments and flavor anywhere I could get it. I recall doing my best to come up with gluten free chili and missing the homemade soft tacos and spaghetti of my past life.
In my first year of gluten free living, I drank gallons of flavored tea and, when desperate, I would even down a glass of orange flavored Citrucel just to get that strong (artificial) flavor burst from my days of eating fake, processed foods. Americans are used to that processed flavor and texture of foods from a box. After all, we grew up on junk like Hamburger Helper, pizza, and pasta with tons of sauce. This was food, as we knew it.
Transitioning to a gluten free lifestyle will take time. Enjoy the journey and stick to it. The day will come in which you realize that you have made it over the crest of the wave.
Year three of living gluten free brought many realizations and feelings of content for me. The biggest realization was that I made it. Living gluten free is easy now. Every now and then I realize that I no longer need ketchup or some other goopy sauce to drown my food. That grilled chicken and tri-tip with good old salt, pepper, and garlic are fabulous all by themselves. I prefer the taste of the meat itself over a blanket of barbecue sauce any day. In my earlier days of gluten free living, I could not go one day without five or six pieces of dark chocolate. I recently realized that I have not had dark chocolate (or any kind of candy) in over six months. That was a natural transition that did not really occur to me until after it had passed.
A friend of mine is experimenting with gluten free living. She asked me where she might find gluten free, nitrate free deli meat. I told her that, even if she could find it, she would not want to eat it. Gluten free leads to a life of eating real, whole, natural foods. I suggested that she buy a real turkey breast and actually cook it in the oven or barbecue it herself (imagine that.) Slice it really thin and enjoy. The point is to get away from processed foods altogether. This will ensure your gluten free lifestyle and eliminate all the other ugly things about processed foods like high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, and excess sodium. Not to mention the long list of chemical additives that hardly anyone can pronounce.
I bring this up to point out that our old habits are difficult to break. But they are breakable. Try not to look for alternatives to your old favorites like bread, muffins, deli meats, and other processed foods. Instead, rethink your eating habits altogether. The longer you stay away from these items, the less you will miss them.
It might be easier to focus on what you can eat instead of repeatedly going over a laundry list of things you miss shoveling down mindlessly. You can retrain your brain. Remind yourself every day of the great foods you can enjoy. Focus on real, whole meats, vegetables, whole eggs, nuts and seeds, and a small amount of fruit.
Before you know it, you will easily and naturally want these foods in your new lifestyle. Processed foods will no longer mesmerize you and, in fact, you will not even want them. Some people (those who partake in the standard American diet) might think a gluten free diet is restrictive or boring. Not so! You can enjoy wonderful meals consisting of real food every day. I no longer crave salt, sugar, or junk food. I no longer want to eat sauce laden foods or fast food. It just does not enter my mind, naturally and effortlessly.
The key is to allow yourself the time to transition. You may find yourself sneaking spoonfuls of strawberry jam or searching for artificial flavor in some way. This is merely a phase in your transition and it will pass. Make up your mind to get through it and you will. You will be a happier and healthier person when you come out on the other side.