How to Live Gluten Free

Discovering you are intolerant or allergic to gluten (a condition called celiac) can be devastating and frustrating. Doctors and dietitians often offer a laundry list of foods to avoid, but no strategies about how to live with this diet. Here's how you can transition into this culinary lifestyle with no problems.


  1. 1
    Have a pity party. Get a party hat or tiara, a CD that makes you feel sad, a box of your favorite "now off limits" treats, and tissues. Eat yourself sick while you glare at your restricted list and really wallow in how sad you feel about this life change. You may have many times in the future where you'll feel sorry for yourself, but this initial wallow takes the edge off.

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  2. 2
    Do not replace a single thing with a gluten-free alternative! Gluten-free (GF) alternatives, such as pastas, flours, bakery goods, breads, waffles, etc., are an acquired taste and trying to replace familiar foods with them may only make you feel discouraged. Your mouth needs time to adjust to different flavors so, unless you were raised with a widely varied diet, steer clear of alternatives for awhile.
  3. 3
    Look at your current diet and through your pantry and refrigerator to find the foods and meals you already eat that are gluten-free. You may need to keep a food journal for a week or two if you haven't already. Be sure to list condiments, ice creams, produce, snacks, and other foods. This list will be helpful as you create menus around your new restrictions and give you encouragement that you're already on the right track!
  4. 4
    Give yourself permission to eat things that you may have restricted from your diet before your diagnosis. Potato chips may not be appropriate for other people, but they are a staple in a GF diet. You will need to find treats for yourself as you adjust to this diet. Count calories after you are comfortable with your new way of eating, manage your portions instead. It's all about taking baby steps!
  5. 5
    Look at your current menus and meals and find ways to eliminate gluten from your diet.

    • Replace bread in sandwiches with green leaf lettuce and add your favorite fixings and condiments. Have breakfast burritos with corn tortillas instead of toast and eggs; to up the "yummy" factor in otherwise dry corn tortillas, spray with non-stick spray, salt if desired, and warm in a frying pay until pliable.
    • Look for GF hot and cold cereals(must not have barley malt) and have those handy for a snack or meal. Replace bread and crackers with potato chips, tortilla or corn chips, rice cakes or popcorn. For example, chicken or tuna salad on rice cakes or scooped onto potato chips is delicious. Fondue dips well with popcorn or tortilla chips and Fritos make excellent croutons in salads. Popcorn is a filling side dish with soup.
    • Drop bakery goods for awhile, and find other gluten-free treats instead. Treat yourself to exotic chocolates, ice creams, or candies that are GF. Have pasta toppings on rice, polenta, or baked potatoes (to make easy baked potatoes just wash and scrub the potatoes, wrap individually in foil, and bake in a crockpot for about 7 hours on low - perfect every time!).
    • Be on the lookout for meals on your current menus or the menus of friends and family that are naturally gluten-free (roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed veggies, for example) and make them a staple on your new menus.
    • Surf the internet, watch cooking shows and browse magazines for ideas and adapt them as you see fit. Bento boxes (Japanese lunches) are excellent and leaves room for creative and enjoyable meals often leaving others envious! A good example of a Bento Box is cubed or sliced luncheon meat or salami, cubed cheese, mixed olives, cucumber/tomato/bell pepper salad vinaigrette, chips and chocolates.
  6. 6
    Really consider what are your favorite parts of your current meals. Also, make sure your presentation is enticing, which makes the food more enjoyable and makes you feel spoiled.
  7. 7
    Clear out any and all foods that have gluten, wheat, wheat flour, oats, oat flour, rye, semolina, or modified food starch from your pantry. This will allow you to see how close you are to living gluten-free already. If you have family members living with you who are not gluten-free, you might consider giving the "offending edibles" to them to be put in another part of the house while you learn to live and think gluten-free.
  8. 8
    Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time. Being caught hungry without a plan is a recipe for disaster! Keep a few GF soups in your larder in case of extreme hunger and no plan. It helps to outline and pack any meals you're eating at home and away from home, including snacks. An example could be:
    • Breakfast: corn tortilla breakfast burritos, sliced apples, and coffee. #*Lunch: "lettucewich" with turkey, cheese, avocado slices, tomato, mayo and mustard, 1 oz. chips, and 2 chocolates.
    • Dinner: BBQ chicken on potatoes, coleslaw, and chocolate sundaes.
    • Snacks: 1 oz. almonds and popcorn.
  9. 9
    When you feel courageous, add a gluten-free alternative to a meal. Celebrate your courage even if you didn't care for the item - you stepped outside your comfort zone! Well done! Your mouth may not be ready for it now, but try it again in a few months to see if your mouth has adjusted to flavor alternatives. You may have to find ways to make GF alternatives more enticing. For example, rice bread is not delicious unless it has been toasted - and even then it's best open-faced as it doesn't lend itself to "sandwich style" eating(rice bread doesn't have the same "give" that wheat bread has).


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