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After learning that my MTHFR gene could be affected by eating gluten, I decided to figure out how to become gluten free. (No, clue what the motherf*cker gene is, stay tuned for a post on that gem) Deciding to become gluten free is a really big decision. Even for me, it was a last resort. You can see that in my “day the bread died” post here. This is a girl that LOVES her wheat, but after being gluten free for six weeks I began to realize that gluten didn’t love me!
That’s why I am sharing my words of wisdom (and some very kick ass gluten free friends of mine) to help you become gluten free, and also figure out if going gluten free is the right thing for you. (It’s not always the answer, surprisingly) (Disclosure time: I am NOT a doctor. This is just my experience on what I found works. If ever in doubt talk to your doc first ;))
10 Tips How to Become Gluten Free
1. Figure out if going gluten free is for you: This is the best advice, courtesy of my pal Char. Sometimes going gluten free isn’t the answer. That’s why it’s important to do a solid two week trial without gluten products, and then add gluten back to your life. If you feel awful when you add the gluten back, ie brain fog, cramps, sore joints, just feeling like crap, then gluten is probably not for you. If you don’t notice a difference, it would be smart to say gluten is not the enemy you seek.
2. Brainstorm your favorite gluten laden products, and find an awesome substitute: This is the ONLY reason I haven’t commited hare kare when giving up gluten. We would eat bread and pasta several times a day. Finding gluten free products that, not only replaced my favorites but, tasted amazing was essential. Here’s some of my favorite gluten free products that help me make it through the day:
- Van’s Gluten Free Waffles
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit Mix
- Glutino Parmesan and Herb Bagel Chips
- Immaculate Baking Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Simply Balanced Gluten Free Pasta from Target
3. Pick your Gluten Free Friends’ brains: Almost everyone has a friend that is already gluten free. If you don’t, consider me your gluten free friend. (that’s what comments are for, right?!) They’ve already been through becoming gluten free and might have some insight on how to make the transition easier for you.
4. Educate yourself: Educating yourself on how to spot gluten, and avoid it, is really important. It’s so much better than learning that you’ve fallen victim to a sneak ninja gluten attack. Some of my favorite places to find information on gluten free living are these websites:
- Liv360: Awesome website that is like Pinterest for your health. I have a whole board about Gluten Free living. Plus it’s free to sign up here.
- Gluten Free Living: Great website with tons of gluten free living information including gluten free recipes, gluten free tips, and over all gluten free health.
- Gluten Free and More: Another great online magazine that supports gluten free living.
5. Always read labels: Another gem a gluten free friend taught me was to never trust labels. Unless it’s specifically labelled gluten free, don’t assume it is safe to eat. This can be really confusing because some products just haven’t gotten around to labelling their products. Others don’t show gluten products on the label, but don’t have the gluten free sticker because of cross contamination concerns. If you really want a product, and it’s not labelled gluten free, you can always call the company.
6. Find safe gluten free products and companies: Some companies have more stringent requirements than others. These are my favorite gluten free products and companies:
- Van’s Gluten Free
- Udi’s Gluten Free
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free
- Enjoy Life Foods
7. Don’t think about what you “can’t” have: Focusing on what you can’t have now that you have given up gluten is just setting yourself up for failure. Concentrating on all the amazing foods that you can still have (hello, cheese) makes it so much easier to forget about everything you are “giving up”. On top of that, if you do reintroduce gluten and have adverse affects, it won’t be as tempting to crave your former favorite treats. Trust me! I didn’t think this would be true until my favorite loaf of bread equaled stomach pains that almost doubled me over.
8. Have fun in the kitchen: One of my favorite things about going gluten free is the challenge of learning how to make some of my favorite foods without gluten. I’ve always loved baking, and it’s been fun to get in the kitchen to figure out how to make new versions of old favorites. (You can find those creations in the new gluten free recipes section of Quirky Inspired. Still a work in progress)
9. Find hidden gluten outside of food: Sadly, gluten is EVERYWHERE. Did you know they put gluten in things like toothpaste and shampoo? This is one area I am still trying to figure out. What I do right now is always ask if the product is gluten free. My favorite gluten free shampoo is from Madison Reed (you can check out my Madison Reed review here). It’s not only an amazing shampoo, but it’s free from gluten and al the other icky chemicals a lot of shampoos have.
10. When you eat out, have a plan: If you eat out a lot, it’s REALLY important to have a plan. More and more restaurants have gluten free menus, but you also need to ask do they have a gluten free prep area. If you are eating something fried, you need to ask if they have a gluten free fryer. Trust me, I found this out the hard way at a restaurant eating some French fries. Let my stomach pains be your lesson. Never be afraid to ask.
Now that’s it. You’ve got 10 solid ways to get you started in a gluten free lifestyle. It might be the great white hope you are looking for, it might not be, but at least you know you aren’t alone on the journey!
Want to read more about how to become gluten free? Make sure to check out my journey into gluten free living!