9 Quick Tips to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

9 tips to go gluten-free

So! We left off last week with 5 reasons for going gluten-free, and the previous discussed the basics of gluten. Today’s post will cover the HOW of going gluten-free. 

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How in the world does one go gluten-free!? It seems crazy doesn’t it??

Just last week, I received a comment from one of my readers, which sums up the intimidating feelings perfectly…

“[…] I feel I need to make further changes to my diet. I’m just so overwhelmed by how everything has gluten in it. Stamps?! Envelopes?! My vitamins? It’s truly overwhelming. I don’t know how to begin. How to have go-to quick meals; pasta is so easy for me when days are chaotic. I need something like that. But I’m clueless. And I have no interest in processed fad foods. No thanks.”

These questions are all valid and bring me back to our starting point just 2 years ago – it’s easy to forget the initial shock of eliminating gluten!

Having gone through the transition personally and through helping others, I’ve compiled a list of all the tips I’ve learned along the way to help you on the fast track to a delicious gluten-free LIFEstyle (because diets always fail!!).

9 Quick Tips to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

1) Figure out your “WHY” & change your mindset. 

What is your motivating factor to do this? Is it because you’re tired of being tired and want mental clarity? Or, perhaps you have achy joints, bad skin, a few extra pounds, or crave more energy…

Whatever it is, that’s your “WHY.” Write it down and refer back to that whenever you’re frustrated.

Then, get your mind right.
Have you ever heard that thoughts become things?

YOU are the owner of what you think and how those thoughts play out in your life. If you THINK and complain that it will be difficult, it WILL be. Try changing from “I can’t do this” or “I can’t eat this” to:

“I could eat this, but I CHOOSE not to eat this because of… [fill in your WHY].” 

Isn’t that powerful? It takes you from feeling defensive and deprived to a purpose-driven state of mind.

There are going to be tough points along the way, but just like a smoker who quits smoking, a junk foodie quitting junk food is going to involve physical and mental changes.

Embrace it all, and realize that you can deal with these changes now, or pay the doctor later.

2) Don’t go “cold turkey.” Start small. 

Going “cold turkey” with diet changes doesn’t do anyone good. That’s the reason 99% of diets fail. We set ourselves up for “all or nothing” and end up crashing, burning, and feeling guilty and worse off than before.

Don’t fall into this trap again. Slowly making the transition will build your confidence to realize that this is possible and doable… and delicious!

How, you ask?

  • Start SMALL with changing ONE meal, like breakfast, to gluten-free. Choose an omelet, a smoothie, or steel cut oats (or one of these 10 breakfast ideas), for instance, and continue eating gluten-free breakfasts for 1- 2 weeks.
  • Then, transition to eating gluten-free lunches for 1 – 2 weeks. My go-to is usually a huge salad with avocado, some nuts sprinkled on top, and olive oil/ vinegar for dressing. Or, try soup and a sandwich on gluten-free bread or a protein smoothie.
  • Finally, transition to eating gluten-free dinners. Pick a protein, a veggie, a fat, and a starch (if you so choose). Example: Protein = shrimp, Veggie = cucumbers and tomatoes, Fat = olive oil, Starch = rice.

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In total, the transition should take you 2 – 6 weeks, and by the end of it, you’ll feel awesome.

3) Learn to read labels & watch out for common and hidden sources of gluten. 

As a refresher from my first post, these following foods have gluten in them and should be avoided:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Bread
  • Baked goods
  • Pasta/noodles
  • Cereals

Restaurants and processed grocery store foods do have sneaky ways of getting gluten in there. Watch out for gluten in these places as well:

  • Soups (restaurants often use flour to thicken)
  • Dressings
  • Yogurt
  • Gum (I know, right? Check for the ingredient of hydrolyzed wheat protein.)
  • Soy sauce
  • Beer
  • Vitamins

Finally, be aware of the gagillion different names and forms of gluten here.

4) Substitute, baby! 

Whoever said that gluten-free has to taste like twigs?

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(Haha!!)

Kyle and I eat like kings, really. I mean, when grass-fed steak, grilled or roasted veggies drizzled with olive oil, and other delicious things (ahem, dark chocolate, coconut milk smoothies, etc.) are on the menu, there’s no feeling deprived.

Let’s be honest, though. Typical American food is a part of our culture, so you may still crave certain cultural dishes (Kyle always misses pizza…and buys a gluten-free version once in a while).

Here’s a list of substitutions that we’ve found helpful and delicious:

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Gluten-free appetizers in Greece!

5)  Short on time or money?

6)  Figure out your “social script” & go-to foods for eating out.

We’ve all had awkward social encounters with friends or family surrounding food. There’s the food pusher, the defensive person that hates on you for your choices, and you know the rest.

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Whether at social events or a restaurant, I’ve found it really easy to say that I’m ALLERGIC. Because I am (and many of us are) on a small scale.

And the word “allergy” seems to get people off your back in .5 seconds without any questions.

When eating out, there are many restaurants with gluten-free options!

If all else fails, stick to a meal with protein and veggies.

Simple as that.

Many restaurants make accommodations for you, too. For example, Kyle and I always ask for veggies to dip in hummus or guacamole rather than crackers.

7) Check out these resources for recipes!! 

…And a few of my favorite gluten-free recipe blogs:

Living Low Carb One Day at a Time
Rubies & Radishes
Real Food Forager
Healthy Green Kitchen
The Kitchen Rag
Healy Real Food Vegetarian
What I Gather
The Healthy Home Economist

8) Cut yourself some slack! 

Repeat after me: I am not perfect and my diet will never be PERFECT. That’s okay, and it doesn’t mean I’m not healthy or attractive, or that I should feel guilty and fall off the bandwagon into a pile of Oreos.

Good. :)

The more you get away from this “all or nothing” mentality, take away this perceived wall of deprivation, and allow room for enjoying SOME cheats, the more motivated you’ll feel to continue eating food that makes you feel and be healthy.

9) Remember that gluten-free doesn’t always mean HEALTHY. 

Don’t use gluten-free as a cop-out for choosing gluten-free cookies, gluten-free cereal, and gluten-free cake mix.  These are still fake, processed foods that will not do your body good.

Best of luck in your transition to gluten-free! After all, if a professional athlete can do it, you DEFINITELY will be successful in doing so!

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This post was shared on Party Wave Wednesday. 

photo credit: PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast via photopin cc

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8 responses on “9 Quick Tips to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

  1. Such good advice jules! At my sister in law’s house this morning, i opted for eggs and turkey sausage instead of pancakes, and i’ve started using soy milk in my lattes. You are so inspiring!!

  2. Great article, lots of helpful information. I have been maintaining a gluten fee diet for 17 years. A month ago I started going grain free, so I’m excited to see more recipes and information being shared for Grain Free. I read the list under #3. The gagillion other names that gluten goes by. There was a little information shared there about wheat protein not being an issue in shampoos, lotions and cosmetics. I have found the complete opposite to be the case for me. I’m highly allergic to wheat protein on shampoos cosmetics and lotions. I make sure to read all those labels so that I don’t waste money on products that I can use.

    • Cindy – thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you’re on a good, clean path and feeling well. :)

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