Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gluten Free Tips

What I have learned in the last year:

Well, it has been one year since I got the dreaded news that I had Celiac Disease and would have to forsake all foods that include gluten for the rest of my life.  This last year has been quite the emotional journey.  I have been angry, frustrated, and sad at times.... many times.  I am getting used to not being able to eat what's at a party, or having to be really picky about what restaurants I go to, or shying away when someone else wants to cook for me.  Right now, I mostly feel grateful.

Because I can't eat gluten, I have been more willing to try new tastes and keep trying them until they taste good (thinking about you, carrots!).  I am more aware of what I put in my body and I don't just eat because food is there.  I buy more groceries and eat out less.  I prepare way more balanced meals and include fruits and veggies everyday.  I have also found that less of what I do revolves around food, but rather around activities.

I have come a long way in the past year.  What a weird blessing this thing has been?!

To those just starting this journey... it gets better.  You start to feel better and figure out techniques to deal with going to a party and not being able to eat anything.  And then you find delicious treats that don't make you sick.  And then your friends and family learn more and are super supportive and educated about risks.  And then you keep growing and learning and trying new things.  And it all works out.  You totally got this!  Here are some things that might help:

1) Get helpful Resources! Shopwell App - You put in your profile that you can't have gluten and then you can scan bar codes and it will tell you if it is safe to eat or not. It tends to be on the safe side and there have been times when I have looked up the manufacturers and they really don't have gluten. So it will not lead you astray. I do think it is pretty accurate, just not with soda and some candy. Find Me Gluten Free App- It helps locate Celiac friendly restaurants and has a news feed of Gluten Free articles across the nation. Every once in a while I find good recipes or find out a GF bakery opened up close to me. The GFree Diet Book - She certainly has her own agenda, but this book helped me realize how careful I need to be in my own kitchen, at restaurants, and when others cook for me. There are helpful tips about how to handle those delicate situations, how to stick up for your medical needs, and how to help others realize the importance of it.

2) Eat things that are naturally gluten free. I find it hard to eat gluten free bread. It is typically disappointing and expensive. I instead use a lot of grains that don't have gluten: corn, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice tortillas (for lunch wraps), rice, corn tortillas, corn tortilla chips, rice cakes, quinoa, sweet potato crackers, popcorn, and gluten free oats. I find that I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables now (apple with pb and nutella... dreamy!). It helps to have them all prepared and portioned in sandwich bags to grab and go out the door. There are plenty of delicious things that don't have gluten: milk duds, most ice cream!!! (as long as it doesn't have brownie bites or cookie dough, etc), m&m's, jelly beans, marshmallows, tootsie rolls, regular reeses, cadbury mini eggs, gummy bears, sour patch kids, etc. Find some favorites! Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are easy!!

3) Find the GF stuff you do need/want. I just shop at the regular grocery store (Whole Foods is $$$) and grab some specific gluten free items in their health foods section - GF granola, GF granola bars (Kind brand for both... delicious), GF oats (Bob's Red Mill brand), GF all purpose flour (also Bob's Red Mill) and brown rice tortillas (Food for Life brand). Costco has almond flour, which is expensive so I use it very sparingly. Betty Crocker has great GF mixes, also expensive so I use them for a special treat. Bob's Red Mill has a pizza crust that is great. We have pizza a lot. I was never a pasta person, so I don't feel the need to do much GF pasta, although I did just get spiralizer for zucchini and other veggie noodles that is awesome.

4) Figure out where Gluten is hiding in your home. I scanned everything in my house with the Shopwell app and put green dots on the stuff I could eat. Then I threw out, gave away, or put in a separate place with red dots so Jeremy knew he had to eat it. Some surprises for me: some vanilla (the Kirkland brand at Costco doesn't), dressings, instant pudding (but not cook and serve), lite cool whip (but not regular), soy sauce, butterscotch flavored things, often caramel flavored things, juices with wheat grass, most chicken broths and tomato soups, sometimes white chocolate chips, etc. I have also found that gluten sticks to my metal baking dishes (I was still getting sick) so I cover those with aluminum foil before baking on them and have purchased some new pans. I placed all my pots and pans in the dishwasher to get them really clean after being diagnosed. I haven't had issues with pyrex though. Cross-contamination is a real thing, too. Jeremy and I have separate peanut butters and butter and we are always super careful if we are sharing lunch meats. I often buy him roast beef and turkey for me. Also, I have to make sure I don't kiss him right after he eats glutenous stuff. Annoying, I know. I take a cracker to church for the sacrament and if I forget, I just skip the bread and take the water... not worth the belly ache.

5) Do what's best for YOU! Set limits with people, just because they make something they "claim" is gluten free doesn't mean it actually is. You don't have to eat something just because someone gives it to you. I find that it's better if I just do the GF components rather than expect someone else to do them right. Also, servers at a restaurant are there to serve you. If you know there is gluten containing stuff on your plate, send it back, and you don't have to apologize. I always ask for a gluten free menu before we are seated, it's a great way to see if they are saavy on that stuff (also the reviews on Find Me Gluten Free are helpful). I sometimes explain it as a contact allergy if someone seems clueless so they understand that anything the bread touches is now contaminated.

Hope this helps!

No comments: