If you had asked me 20 years ago what gluten was, I wouldn’t even have known. Those days are long gone for me. I know more about gluten — and howI react to it — than I ever would have guessed. My education was slow and sometimes painful, but poor health and persistent symptoms kept pushing me towards a solution.
I did eventually find the solution: eliminate gluten from my diet. I was relieved, all I needed to do was change my diet. How hard could that be? Then I began to realize how pervasive gluten is. In moments of despair I felt like there was nothing I could eat. Of course there are lots of delicious and healthy foods that are gluten-free, but the emotional impact resulting from such a fundamental change in diet and lifestyle was sometimes overwhelming.
What kept me going? The clear fact that I felt so much better when I didn’t eat gluten. It was impossible to ignore how it affected me. But changing habits is hard, and I would crave the foods I loved but couldn’t eat. Despite my ups and downs, however, I could see steady improvement and finally common sense won the battle over cravings and old habits. As with any change, it gets easier with time.
If you are faced with the need to go gluten-free, it helps to look at the scope of the changes right up front. Food is central to our lives and our culture, and this change will be central to your life. You will change how and where you shop. It will affect your whole family’s meals, and your ability to eat at restaurants. It requires an entirely new way to look at food and how you relate to it.
Start by educating yourself, there are lots of sources these days. And read every label, yes every one at first. Learn how and where gluten hides in an ingredient list. Know which foods are safe even if they are not labeled gluten-free.
The good news is that there are now so many really delicious alternatives to foods containing gluten. A rice cracker is no longer the closest thing to bread or pizza crust that is gluten-free! I now eat bread, english muffins, bagels, donuts, pizza crust, muffins, crackers and pasta. All gluten-free, all delicious!
If you are going gluten-free don’t think of it as deprivation, notice how good you feel—and think of it as gluten freedom!
photo by: avlxyz