Immediately after diagnosis for gluten intolerance a certain panic can set in. It can be overwhelming, trying to determine where to start with your diet and how to truly become gluten free. While it can be challenging to kick start a new daily routine without gluten, there are some tricks which can make the transition easier. Soon, your overall wellness and the disappearance of symptoms will make your efforts worthwhile.
When going gluten-free, there are many new products to try which you have likely never even considered sampling, before.
It is helpful to set aside a time period in the beginning of your dietary change to try as many gluten-free items as possible. Through this sampling, you can identify foods which are good substitutes for things you may crave or believe you might miss while adhering to your new gluten-free lifestyle. Spend a week or so sampling substitutions for things like pasta, sweet foods and salty snacks. When cravings for your favorite items hit, you will be prepared with something on hand that takes care of that hankering, preventing a subsequent cheat.
Balance to Feel Good
Any major dietary change can cause blood sugar fluctuations or other imbalances. To get started on a healthy path and feel better doing so, it is important to maintain nutritional balance every single day. Chart meals to plan ahead and ensure all ingredients are on hand for at least the first week or two.
Double check fulfillment of daily nutritional requirements of your charted plan and have some healthy gluten-free snack options easily available, for times when you feel your blood sugar slipping or experience other imbalance.
Take a Break From Jet-Setting
While you work to become acclimated to your new diet, try to avoid situations which will prove initially difficult. These may include parties, food-related events or other gatherings centered around food. If a few weeks of self-focus proves too much for your highly social lifestyle, plan ahead and either ensure gluten-free options will be available at the events you will attend, or take your own food. Do not forget to research and plan for beverages, too. After a few weeks of transitioning into your new diet, you will have the awareness and comfort level needed to get back into your regular, high-profile scene.
Get Excited About Perimeter Foods
Remember that the healthiest foods for someone on a gluten-free diet are those carried around the perimeter of a grocery store.
Fresh meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits and gluten-free grains will be found in these aisles. Challenge yourself to shop these areas with renewed attention to the bounty of available color and flavors. Or, visit a farmer’s market and try new fruits, vegetables, meats and grains. Introduce yourself to the vendors or farmers, tell them of your needs and they will be pleased to provide you with a one-on-one “tour” of what they offer to suit your needs. This can make going gluten-free fun and educational. The best part? You will not have to read so many labels!
Harness Your Inner Chef
Step outside of your comfort zone of just a few foods in rotation and try some recipes specifically designed as gluten-free cuisine. There are many gluten-free cookbooks available both in bookstores and online. Getting creative and starting from scratch will help when in restaurants, as well. You will be more aware of where gluten can hide in your cuisine and what questions should be asked of the chef.
Get Out of the Hamster Wheel
When starting your new diet, do not get stuck in the routine of relying upon four or five staples as the selection for your ongoing gluten-free life. Integrate new flavors and foods whenever you can, to keep things exciting, fresh and flavorful. It is also important to keep nutritional balance, something that is not easily accomplished through a narrow selection of go-to foods.
Drink Plenty of Water
Keeping yourself hydrated will make you feel better, more vibrant and healthier. This helps you psychologically, when changing diets. When you feel better from your food, that food feels more like a reward and less like a burden. Water also helps fill you up when you get cravings.
Get Outside Help
Do not try to do everything yourself, if you are struggling with finding healthy options. Ask your doctor for a referral to a gluten-free focused dietitian, who can help you develop meal plans and get past stumbling blocks, when it comes to satisfying your dietary needs.