In recent years, gluten-free living has become a bit of a trend. While many people have chosen this diet on their own, many illnesses require it. Starting a gluten-free lifestyle isn’t always easy; many substitutions and compromises need to be made. If you’re just getting into this new diet and lifestyle, the following reminders will help make the transition easier.
Communicating With Your Doctor
The first thing you need to do when going gluten-free is talk to your doctor. If you’re reducing your gluten intake for medical reasons, your medical team will probably want to conduct a few tests on you. Taking a gluten intolerance test will help you and your doctor see if you have a condition like celiac disease or just don’t process these proteins well. It’s possible to have a sensitivity to gluten molecules without having a condition like celiac, but you’ll need testing to narrow things down. By communicating with your doctor about your desire to go gluten-free, you can get the GI testing you need.
In addition to testing your GI tract, talking with your doctor regularly will give you access to nutritional advice as you start changing your diet. Unfortunately, many people who cut whole food groups out of their diets don’t include substitutions and their bodies suffer as a result. Informing your doctor of your dietary changes will allow them to monitor your nutrition levels and make changes as necessary. If you start showing the signs of any mineral deficiencies, your doctor will have the knowledge and experience to make corrections. Starting a gluten-free lifestyle should also include regular communication with a doctor.
Finding Healthy Substitutes
Of course, one of the most common parts of gluten-free living is finding substitutions for your favorite foods. While you may have been able to eat anything you wanted previously, now you have to be a bit more careful. One mistake that many people make when they start a gluten-free diet is eating solely pre-packaged foods rather than planning meals. While these gluten-free snacks are delicious, they are often high in calories due to being incredibly processed. Rather than giving in to the temptation of substituting all your previous gluten content with packaged goodies, do your best to plan wholesome meals instead.
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It’s easy to get discouraged when you think you can’t eat any sort of rich carbs in your diet. These foods are often comforting and warm and bring a sense of coziness with them. Fortunately, many whole grain alternatives are still gluten-free. Rice, corn, flax, and quinoa are all gluten-free whole grains. Many grocery stores carry flour made from these grains, so you don’t have to give up having a slice of bread with your dinner. Whole grains, meat, and veggies should be regular staples in your diet already, so simply cutting out gluten won’t make too much of a difference. Eating healthy, balanced meals will help you avoid nutrient deficiencies that will leave you exhausted.
Learning How To Adapt
If you have a gluten allergy or disease like celiac, you’ll need to learn how to adapt. While gluten-free living has become popular in recent years, it’s not commonplace yet. Learning how to adapt your diet to public situations will help you avoid sickness and discomfort. For instance, learning how to shop for gluten-free substitutes is a must. Many regular foods have gluten as an additive, so you’ll need to learn to read labels and spot things like “seitan,” which is a wheat gluten product. Many foods will have a verified gluten-free stamp by the nutrition label to make things easier, but it’s still worth a peek.
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Going gluten-free also means you’ll need to relearn how to order at restaurants. If you’re trying a new spot that you haven’t verified yet, don’t be afraid to ask your server questions. Asking questions about cross-contamination, in-house versus pre-bought, and verified gluten-free offerings will help you have peace of mind when you’re eating out.
Overall, making the switch to gluten-free living doesn’t need to be stressful. If you’re just getting started, give yourself a measure of patience and you’ll be just fine.