The truth is that gluten has been causing me problems for years. In fact, studies show it affects between 6-7 percent of people (which is some 20-million people). Yet, I couldn’t let myself give it up. No gluten meant no warm bread at restaurants. No pastas. No more of my “favorite foods”. For the first few weeks of being gluten-free (GF) I was so crabby most days because I was treating my food restriction like a temporary diet.
Luckily, I came across some hacks and ways to make it less about my food and more exciting and tasteful. For anyone trying to cut gluten for health reasons or for dieting reasons, here’s some ideas to make life easier… and not so boring!
Get creative with veggies: Most of us don’t want to eat tons of veggies. But surprisingly there’s several ways to spice them up. Try eating raw and cooked vegetables. Adding spices, spreading Virgin Olive Oil on a pan and then roasting veggies are a great way to get creative! Roasting zucchini, squash and sweet potatoes are my favorites! Steaming cauliflower and broccoli also make it easy to change things up, especially if you add a little cheese to them!
Recently, I’ve found plenty of GF foods for kids in the frozen food areas. For any parents trying to find kid-friendly food due to a child’s allergy or intolerance, I’ve learned that frozen spinach and broccoli bites are available in dinosaur and star shapes (and they’re actually delicious)!
Understand how to eat GF carbs: First, understand that corn and rice carbs are safe foods when on a gluten restriction. However, corn and rice noodles do not cook the same as traditional gluten filled noodles. Cooking these noodles a little longer than the suggested time can help alleviate the uncooked, hard texture often associated with many gluten-free noodles. Learning which brands you prefer, whether that’s gluten-free noodles, breads or anything else, is a huge step in the right direction.
Recently, I discovered that Walmart has excellent GF section with great bread and tortillas. It’s important to note that if you are restraining from gluten for dieting purposes, then the best option is to avoid carbs, gluten or not, all together. The reasoning is that these carbs still contains large caloric intake.
Enjoy sweets & desserts: If you’re a dessert person, don’t freak out. While gluten is in a lot of desserts, like cake, cookies and candies, there are GF recipes all over the Internet. Most recipes call for gluten-free flour, but it’s an easy substitute. Another favorite hack of mine is eating ice cream because MOST brands offer GF flavors. Be careful and remember to avoid gluten filled flavors, like cookie dough ice cream. This is the perfect balance between giving up gluten, but refraining from the constant feel of being on a diet.
Do your research: Finally, be careful of foods you wouldn’t think could have gluten in them. For those avoiding gluten because of an intolerance, accidental indulgence could leave you with severe stomach issues. Some foods to double-check, or avoid if unsure, include soups, condiments, processed meats, alcohol and even pickles.
On the bright side, at least most restaurants offer excellent gluten-free menus to make eating out easier! Remember, it doesn’t need to be boring to eat gluten-free.