Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Eat Gluten Free


I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned that I have to eat gluten free because of an allergy, but lately I've really been wanting to spread the word about living gluten free! I found out I was allergic to wheat about three years ago, and man was it rough cutting out all gluten! Just think of the best foods (bread, pasta, and for me, my mom's dumplings), and imagine never eating them again! Okay, okay, it isn't that bleak, but it was definitely a challenge! Today, there are so many gluten free options available so it really isn't even that hard, you really just have to readjust your taste buds! I thought it would be cool, though, to start sharing my gluten free tips with you guys, and just break down exactly what gluten and gluten free eating is!


So, what is gluten anyway?
Funny you ask! Many people have heard the term "gluten" or "gluten free," but have never actually looked it up before. The more science-y definition is a mixture of two proteins that are present in wheat, rye, and barley that can cause anywhere from mild allergic reactions (things like skin rashes), to more severe ones (like Celiacs disease, in which a person can't even have food that is processed in the same factory as wheat). Basically, gluten is in wheat flour, so anything with flour in it is a no-go. Personally, gluten gives me really bad headaches, stomachaches, and oftentimes a very unhappy tummy. Gluten allergies can be determined with a simple allergy test from your doctor, so make sure to get one done if you are having any food allergy like symptoms (skin rashes, upset stomach, itching in the mouth or throat, etc.).


I found out I have to go gluten free...now what?
So begins your journey with rice flours, coconut flours, xanthan gum, and all of the other flour alternatives! The most difficult part of eating gluten free is starting out. You have to find substitutes for all of your favorite gluten filled foods, and learn how to cook and bake with gluten free ingredients (trust me, it can be difficult at times!). Rice will become your best friend (it's one of my favorite foods!), as will veggies and fruit!
When you first find out you have to eat gluten free, start by making a list of all of the foods you eat that contain gluten. Now, start to look for gluten free alternatives to those foods. Breakfast can be difficult since a lot of cereals have wheat in them, as do pancakes and waffles, but with a little research, you can find some really great gluten free brands! Personally, I have the gluten free waffles from the brand Vans every morning topped with peanut butter, and honestly, I like them so much better than I ever did regular wheat waffles! Gluten Free Works is also a great website to get started with gluten free recipes and foods. Pinterest is also a wonderful resource to find all of the gluten free recipes you could ever need or want! I would also recommend simply going to the gluten free section of your local grocery store, and start trying out the alternatives they have. Annie's has some great gluten free products (their mac 'n cheese is the best!), as does KIND for things like granola and power bars.

Okay, I tried some gluten free food, and I think the cardboard box it came in was better. Is this how all gluten free food tastes?
No! It does take some trial and error to find your favorite gluten free brands (my family can definitely testify to this...we have tried some horrible gluten free brands in the past), but eventually you find some really great food! After a couple of months you will easily fall into a gluten free routine and find which foods work and which ones don't. Some of my favorite gluten free brands that haven't let me down yet are Annie's, Bob's Red Mill, Vans, and KIND. They have really wonderful substitutes (Bob's Red Mill has great gluten free flour, and gluten free mixes), and recently Krusteaz has come out with a really great pancake mix; it is amazing and smells like vanilla cake!

What do I do when I go out to eat?
This can be really difficult at first, because gluten can be hidden in the craziest of places! Be weary of soy sauce, because it contains flour, and make sure to ask if they have a gluten free version! To be safe at first, always ask the waiter or waitress if the dish you would like to eat contains gluten. That way, you can be 100% sure that what you are about to eat won't put you in the bathroom all night throwing up! Personally, I always go for rice dishes, salads, or roasted veggies! Restaurants often have gluten free menus, so make sure to ask! You can usually request that your dish be made with gluten free pasta instead, and you can't even tell the difference. Season salt also usually contains wheat, so if you have a really bad allergy and order fries, make sure you let the waiter know to tell the chef to not put seasoning salt on them.

What about when I go over to a friend's house?
This can be a little tricky, because you don't want to seem rude and refuse to eat anything they cook you, but you also don't want to end up with an allergic reaction. The safest way to avoid an awkward situation is to simply tell them ahead of time that you have a gluten allergy, and won't be able to eat anything like pasta or bread. People are usually totally fine with the heads up, and really appreciate it so they know what to cook! I sometimes offer to bring my own food to fix if a lot of people will be there, or if it's an event where you can bring a dish, make sure it's gluten free, and something that you wouldn't mind making a whole meal out of!


My tips
-When it gets really hard and all you want to do is go to the first grocery store you find and eat a giant loaf of bread, just remember what happens when you eat gluten! Also try and remember that what you're doing is so good for your body, and it will pay off to not make yourself sick for the small satisfaction of eating gluten.
-Think ahead and always have gluten free snacks available. You don't want to be stuck anywhere starving, with the only option being your long lost favorite lemon pound cake from Starbucks.
-Try out as many gluten free recipes as possible, and make a go-to list! That way when you have no idea what to eat, you have a whole pile waiting in the wings.
-Try and start with naturally gluten free foods. Foods like fresh veggies and fruit will be your best friends at first, because you know for a fact they are gluten free!
-Get in the habit of always reading the ingredient lists on food! There can be hidden wheat in the smallest of places, so just to be safe, always always always read the ingredients.
-If you are at a restaurant and you aren't sure whether or not a food is gluten free, just ask. It can be tedious at times, but it will be worth it in the long run.
-Try and find other glutards (people who are allergic to gluten), and compare recipes/strategies/motivations/anything else that is helpful, because you will learn a lot from them!

That's all I have for now, and this will get you off to a good start! Just make sure to do as much research as possible so you can find the right resources for yourself. Don't be afraid of the phrase gluten free - it is something that can be well adjusted to with a little bit of time, and I promise it will get a lot easier! If you put in a lot of work in the beginning, it will really pay off in the long run. Good luck, fellow glutards! :)

7 comments:

  1. This was a great post Kendra! I am gluten intolerant, meaning I'm not completely allergic but when I eat more than a slice of bread, I start to feel bloated and yuck! So I always if possible go for the gluten free option anyway it's so much easy going on the stomach and makes you feel a lot lighter! Loved this post Kendra it was so great and informative, you must share some gluten free recipes with us please!!

    Gina xx
    www.beautifulbrightlight.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Yay I'm glad you liked it!! I think it's so important for more people to get tested for food allergies (especially gluten) because a lot of people suffer without any idea why! Thank you so much for reading! And yeah I think I'll start sharing some of my favorite recipes and gluten free brands and make a whole series out of it!

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  2. This was so a good post. Luckily I can eat gluten and I don't have any issues there.
    It's so good that food companies are releasing more products and catering to people with special diets.

    Ellen,
    http://fishnetsxd.blogspot.ie

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    1. Yeah it really is so nice! It makes life so much easier and better haha. Thanks for reading!

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  3. A really awesome and informative post. Luckily I can eat gluten but this is super helpful to pass on to others, or just to beat in mind. Thanks for sharing :) x

    AmandaSays

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  4. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips! Gluten is actually a protein responsible for holding food made of flour together. It is what makes the dough stick together to form bread, pasta, etc. It is unfortunate that some people can't eat anything with gluten as it is naturally found in wheat. But there are healthier alternatives these days anyways and more companies are becoming aware of this special diet.

    Walk Trendy Giveaway
    The Pink Lemonade Girl

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  5. Wow, this is so interesting! I've heard of people eating gluten-free food but I didn't know what it actually is! Thank you so much for being informative <3

    xx Bash | Bash Says Hey | bloglovin'

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