Whether you're going gluten-free by choice, or you've been diagnosed with celiac disease and have no other choice, making a significant lifestyle change can be HARD!
These are the steps I took to go gluten-free. And despite a few slip-ups and mishaps, I've been thriving on this diet for months (+ I shed over 25 pounds without much hassle).
I know these tips can work for you too!
No 1 - AvoidPackaged Foods
When you're new to this lifestyle, these will seem overly priced and won't taste like their gluten-ridden counterparts. So go ahead and skip these for now.
Bonus: You'll probably start to eat a lot healthier.
No 2 - Stick to Simple Foods
Not only are these cheaper, but you're already familiar with them. The key to surviving a lifestyle change like this is sticking to foods you already love that are gluten-free.
No 3 - Don't Be Afraid to Stick to the Same Meals!
This same piece of advice keeps popping up everywhere these days. But, unfortunately, those people who are most successful with eating healthy or sticking to a diet don't try new foods daily. Instead, they eat the same few favorites on rotation all the time!
In my (highly unscientific!) study of family, friends, and acquaintances, I've found that those who are most easy-going about diets are repetitive eaters. My husband is a prime example. He'll eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch (dinner is whatever is on our meal plan). Yet, he's never had a weight or food-related health issue.
Don't feel like you're depriving yourself because you're always eating the same meals. The key is to make foods you love that you're EXCITED to eat.
Easy Healthy Dinner Recipes To Get Started
Here are some easy recipes to get you started!
- Chicken Sausage & Lentil Stew
- Roasted Salmon. An ingenious, no-oil, gluten-free dinner option.
- Black Bean Pasta With Mushroom Sauce (YUM!)
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
No 4 - Stock Up On Some Gluten-Free Staples:
Fresh Meats - whether you love beef, chicken, or you're more into seafood; meat is a GREAT gluten-free option! You can season it up infinite ways and never get bored with what's on your plate.
Beans and Legumes - Vegetarian? Enjoy meatless Mondays? No problem! You can sub out fresh meats for beans and legumes in almost any dish (or tofu - gluten-free too!) to make any vegetarian or vegan dish...and still gluten-free!
Vegetables - I know you're probably not insanely passionate about eating your veggies, but they make a great addition to your meals and are loaded with fiber to keep you full. If you prepare them with gluten-free seasonings, you can eat veggies to your heart's content - guilt (and gluten!) FREE! Consider upping your veggie game. Try roasting some!
Nuts and Seeds - While I usually love grabbing a handful of almonds or cashews as a snack and quick pick-me-up - nuts and seeds can be used in many ways in a gluten-free lifestyle.
Whether you decide to eat them raw, make a quick trail mix or even a simple nut bar recipe, nuts and seeds will quickly become a staple in your home.
Chocolate - Yep, you can still have all the chocolate your sweet tooth can handle! Check the package to be sure your favorite chocolate bar or chocolate chips are gluten-free.
Spices - I'll mention this since I think spicing up your food with lots of seasonings is a great idea to mix things up. Be extra careful now to check the packaging when purchasing spices. Some spices and seasoning mixes contain ingredients to keep them shelf-stable longer, which sometimes means gluten is included. Stock up on all the gluten-free spices you can find to have limitless possibilities at your fingertips!
Eggs - These are always gluten-free unless they're prepared somehow. Stock up on eggs for a cheap and fast breakfast or brunch solution.
No 5 - Guilty Pleasures
This one was key for me. It was all I could think about when I realized I had to give up traditional store-bought bread, cookies, and cakes.
Please find a few guilty pleasures you can't wait to eat and stock up on them. Check out 7 Gluten-Free Snacks you can find at Target!
This will help save your sanity when you want the spaghetti you were raised on but realize you have to find a gluten-free option instead.
No 6 - Plan Your Week
This is a biggie. You might have heard that ten minutes spent on planning will save you an hour of work. I found this to be true after I went gluten-free.
No 7 - Research Before Going Out to Eat
When I decided to stop eating gluten, we stopped going out to eat too (for a while). You don't have to do this, but you'll be so worried about what is and isn't gluten-free that it might be easier to prepare your meals for a while.
My husband missed our nights out at our favorite restaurants, so I know this will be a big hiccup for anyone hoping to thrive on a gluten-free lifestyle. However, the upside of reducing eating out a lot is that you'll find some extra cash at the end of the month!
But as I have grown more confident in what is and isn't gluten-free, we've started to venture out again. And for the most part, it hasn't been a problem. Eating out at your favorite dining spots is possible without sacrificing your health or gluten-free status.
Just do a little research ahead of time!
If gluten-free options aren't readily available on the restaurant's website, give them a call! Most restaurants are susceptible to the diet restrictions of their patrons and are happy to help you find a solution that allows you to still dine at their establishment.
No 8 - Connect with Others
I get it; going gluten-free can feel awkward at times. While your friends can order anything they want off the dinner menu, you might call stuck with that green salad and a baked potato (we've all been there!).
Connecting with others who are going through the same experiences can be super helpful. Join a Facebook group or follow some gluten-free Instagram accounts for inspiration.
No 9 - Educate Yourself & Others
Once you've gotten the hang of what's gluten-free of what's not, you can educate your friends and family. Please don't be shy to share your successes (and failures) with them. Tell them how you've begun to thrive after you ditched gluten.
Share your favorite gluten-free dishes with your friends and family.
Some people might wonder if you're chasing the latest diet fad. Sometimes it will feel like you're put on the spot and made to defend your choice. But, I GUARANTEE you that once you see and feel the benefits of the gluten-free option, you'll have no trouble speaking up for yourself!
So, when your friends and family know you're thriving - be ready to answer their questions!
Good luck with your gluten-free journey! And if you have questions along the way, you only have to ask.