10 Tips for Living Your Gluten-Free Life
Going gluten-free can be intimidating, especially if you’re doing it for medical reasons such as celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. You may already be inundated with complex and confusing information. You are not alone if you’re feeling overwhelmed when living as a newly gluten-free person.
Getting advice from people who have been through similar situations can help you avoid common pitfalls as you’re learning the gluten-free living ropes. To help make your life easier as you transition to eliminating gluten entirely from your life, we asked GIG staff, GIG support group leaders, and some of our gluten-free friends for tips. We also asked our followers on Instagram for their thoughts.
Here are ten of our favorite tips!
The practical side of going gluten-free
1. Do your homework.
Our East Central Wisconsin Support Group leader, Al, says, “Learn more about yourself, your food, and your condition.” We recommend that you read, ask questions, and identify reputable sources of information such as the University of Chicago’s Celiac Center, the Celiac Disease Program at Seattle Children’s, the NIDDK at the NIH, and, of course, GIG at Gluten.org. Knowledge really is power when it comes to your health.
2. See a dietitian to help educate and support you.
We appreciate this tip from @thesocialceliacrd (who also happens to be a Registered Dietitian.) Going to a Registered Dietitian (RD) is typically one of the first things your doctor or gastroenterologist will recommend once you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. No need to go at it alone. An RD has the expertise and experience to guide you as you move away from gluten and move toward gluten-free eating.
Need help finding a dietitian with knowledge of gluten-related issues? Use this search tool from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can choose In-person or Telehealth and then choose expertise on the next screen.
3. Join a Support Group.
Barb, the GIG of North Kansas City support group leader, recommends joining a GIG support group and asking questions on their corresponding Facebook Group. “Facebook Groups have increased my knowledge considerably. Someone always answers my questions,” Barb says. Keep in mind that not all information you find through social media is accurate. Also note that one person’s experiences could be vastly different from yours. Never take health advice from someone online without first checking with your healthcare provider.
4. Look for naturally gluten-free foods.
Brooklyn recently began eliminating gluten from her diet for her health. Lucky for her, she works at GIG so is privy to primary source data and knowledgeable team members who have been living gluten-free for over ten years! While she often gets to sample gluten-free snacks from GFCO-certified brands, she says going for whole foods at the supermarket has helped her feel less overwhelmed as she makes the transition to being fully gluten-free.
5. Bake your own baked goods.
So many gluten-laden foods, like breads, cakes, cookies, and pastries, are a regular part – and an enjoyable part – of one’s diet. Natalie, GIG of South Florida support group leader, recommends baking your own sweets and treats. Larissa, a friend of GIG, suggests experimenting with unusual flours. Have you tried teff, sorghum, amaranth, chickpea, and arrowroot, or staples like almond, brown rice, buckwheat, coconut, and corn? Taking up baking may not be for everyone, but it is one way to know your baked goods are safe to eat. Si
The emotional side of the gluten-free transition
Focusing on practical tips can be helpful, but acknowledging and addressing the emotional side of going gluten-free can be key to getting through the first few months. Here are some tips for dealing with those feelings.
6. Have realistic expectations about going gluten-free.
GIG Instagram follower, @tienne_daniels, nails it with her comment on checking your perspective as you’re making major changes to your eating habits. Don’t expect to get it all down right away. @mi_photos_go_hmm goes a step further by saying, “Don’t try to pretend something is what it’s not. It’s easier to accept the change if you don’t try to pretend you are still eating your favorite gluten foods.” Now that’s being realistic!
7. Have patience with yourself and with your family and friends.
Big changes take time. Patience goes hand-in-hand with realistic expectations. Jennifer Gilbert Friesen, editor of GIG of Portland’s communications for 10 years, advises not only to be patient with yourself but with others as well. Family and friends may have good intentions, but not everyone is well-versed on what constitutes “gluten-free.” Find creative ways to educate them – like cooking for or with them, eating out at your favorite gluten-free restaurant, or GFFS Gluten Free Safe Spot.
8. Don’t let others make you feel badly.
Nichol at GIG points out that, in general, “people don’t like to feel different, and going gluten-free can make you feel very vulnerable and different.” Others may make assumptions about why you are eating gluten-free and make insensitive remarks. Know that it’s not you. Their lack of understanding may make them feel confused or uncomfortable. “Sticks and stones” can do wonders here.
9. Know your feelings are okay.
“It’s okay to cry the first few times in the grocery store. Eventually it will all come together, and you’ll learn a new normal,” says @mandysmouth on Instagram. We’ve all shed a few tears out of frustration or a sense of loss when we read confusing ingredient labels at the store or say goodbye to our favorite gluten-filled foods. This, too, shall pass.
10. “Take a deep breath. You can do this!”
We are taking this piece of advice from @vcesari to heart. You’ve got this. We know you do!
When it boils down to living – and thriving – while eating entirely gluten-free, always remember that you are taking good care of yourself (or looking after a loved one). That matters. Final tips? Take things one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare team when considering this information.
© 2021 Gluten Intolerance Group. All Rights Reserved