I am far from an expert at going gluten free, but I have found a few tricks to help me say no to the things that would cause me harm. The first is that when I see something tempting that is made from wheat (e.g. donuts, cookies, brownies) I remind myself that for me wheat is poison. I can then think, what a shame that they ruined a perfectly good donut/cookie/brownie by poisoning it. It may sound a little crazy, but it makes it easy to say no thank-you.
The other trick that I have, is that when I’m good, I give myself permission to enjoy a really good gluten free treat. This is where my love of baking comes in handy. I have many great recipes. One of my favorites is for flourless chocolate cake – which is more like a chocolate torte. I make it in cupcake shells so it is just the right size for a single snack. When I’m good and I avoid all the wheat temptations, I give myself permission to not feel guilty about indulging in a gluten free treat. I’ve earned it.
I am also a big fan of eating foods that naturally don’t contain gluten. It means that I spend less time trying to “replace” the gluten in my diet. I opt for rice and potatoes instead of pasta. For the last 5 or so years, my husband and I have eaten very little bread, so it wasn’t a great loss for me. I still haven’t found the right cracker to eat with cheese (instead of baguette), but for the most part I’m doing a good job of making meals that are naturally gluten free. I find that an easier process than trying substitutes and being disappointed when they don’t live up to the thing they are trying to imitate.
My biggest challenges so far have been around eating while traveling and eating in social situations. I want to be able to just join that buffet line, but I know that I cannot. It is pretty much guaranteed that anything in a buffet is cross contaminated.
I am finding some things are easier. As I mentioned above, I’m doing a much better job of controlling myself. When my willpower would have otherwise given in, and I would have just had a cookie (or two or three), I’m now able to say no thank you. When entering a food court, I’m not longer struggling with how to find a ‘healthy’ meal, or turned off by all the unhealthy options. My choice is severely limited, so it becomes much easier to make the decision. I am no longer paralyzed by choice.
Now that I have a little more time (I hope anyways) before my next conference, I am going to spend a little time figuring out snacks that can be easily carried. I have a bunch of story bought stuff – some gluten free cookies because when cookies are being given out at the conference as an afternoon snack, I really want one – but I want to also have more healthy options. And frankly, store bought pre-packaged cookies taste like pre-packaged cookies. They are not nearly as good as something that I bake myself!
So that’s my little snippet of celiac wisdom for today … think of wheat as poison, and give yourself permission to enjoy gluten free treats!