Transitioning to a gluten-free diet, whether it be due to an intolerance or celiac disease diagnosis, is a huge life change. While many of the changes you make in this process revolve around the food you purchase and the restaurants you visit, there are also several emotional effects—and this is sometimes the hardest part.
Remind Yourself: This is Your Health
When going through a major dietary transition, you have a lot of thoughts wrestling around in your head. Will it really matter if I cheat just this one time? Did I feel that sick last time I ate gluten?
With these pesky questions circling around in your mind, it’s important to remind yourself why you made this change in your diet. The odds are that you will be continually asked by friends, family and co-workers, “What would a piece of bread really do?” Or, “Does cross-contamination really affect you that much?” Don’t let these skeptical questions affect your commitment to the diet—especially because it’s your health. No one wants to feel sick day in and day out, so ignore the haters and do you.
When I’m asked these types of questions, my response usually highlights the fact that I don’t know the extent of what would happen if I ate a crumb of gluten today, but I certainly don’t want to find out!
Prepare for Social Interactions
Social outings are often the most difficult part of going gluten free. Packing your lunch or making dinner at home is easy as pie because you’re in control. However, when it comes time to grab food with friends after work, or go on a business lunch, you must rely on someone else’s plans and suggestions.
Typically when going to an event of any kind, I mentally prepare myself to not be able to eat anything. I even pack food to eat before the event (shout-out to my favorite gluten-free bars, Larabar and KIND Snacks!). This has prevented several hangry social interactions! And when there is food you can eat at an event, it’s more of a bonus than an expectation!
If you’re planning dinner or lunch with a group of friends or coworkers, I find it best to inform them of where you can go right off the bat. Don’t wait around and hope that they choose a restaurant with a gluten-free menu. You can download the Find Me Gluten Free app for a list of places, based on geographic location, that offer gluten-free accommodations so you can give a full list of options to your friends. If you can’t agree on a place, be sure to eat ahead of time.
Focus on the Positives of the Gluten-Free Diet
One of the greatest parts about going gluten free is how it makes you grow as a person. While it may seem like the only thing you’re changing is your diet, the fact that you’re branching out, trying new foods—and maybe even learning how to cook—has a larger impact on your life than you first realize.
Before I went gluten free, I was the pickiest eater you’ll ever meet. In fact, I kind of ate like a kindergartener! Being gluten free forced me to try new foods—many of which were outside of my comfort zone. I was also forced to learn how to find new recipes and cook for myself, something that I look forward to doing today. And if you follow my blog, you’ll see that the recipes I whip up are in no way boring—like these blueberry and lemon energy bites, or quinoa pizza bites. YUM!
Being gluten free has actually brought more excitement into my life and I’m much more confident in the kitchen. Who would have thunk!
Do you understand how awesome it is that a simple change in diet is able to solve your health issues? While it is something that affects our everyday lives, we are extremely lucky to be able to treat ourselves with a diet rather than medication, surgery or other measures.
Are you at the beginning of your gluten-free journey? What are the biggest roadblocks you’re experiencing? Reach out to me on social media @gfreelaura and share your story, ask questions, or just simply grow your gluten-free support network. I’m more than happy to help—or point you in the direction of a few tasty gluten-free products or recipes!
After going gluten free in 2009, Laura found that many answers related to the gluten-free diet—and the journey one takes when on it—are found in the online community. She started her blog, G-Free Laura (www.gfreelaura.com) in 2011, focusing on sharing gluten-free lifestyle tips, product reviews and recipes. Today, Laura focuses on sharing healthy gluten-free recipes, as well as the gluten-free journey that led her to a more balanced, whole foods diet—with the exception of her gluten-free pizza obsession!