I was on a swim team on and off from elementary through high school. On of my events was the 50 meter free style, which is a sprint to the end of the pool and back. You wait for the starting gun longer than you actually swim. Through high school I would try to do with without breathing, hoping to go faster. My head sounded like this:
Gun/Buzzer…Dive…. Go, go,go…. I need air. I need air. Air. Air. Air. AIR. NOW. BREATHE. (give in and breathe) … worthless pathetic wimp. worthless pathetic wimp.
Pretty right? I bring this up because I think going gluten-free can either be this physically and mentally painful OR it can be like a well planned race, focusing on strengths and setting yourself up for the best possible success.
So here are some strategies to make the transition from G-full to G-free as smooth as possible.
- Meal Plan: fail to plan and plan to fail or something. This one takes time, but you’ll be glad you did. Think through your entire week, then brainstorm out what you would like to eat in those occasions. Random hunger attack? Have a plan. Cheese sticks or apples with nut butter are great and way more nutritious than pretzels. Aunt Millie’s 90th Birthday party? If its going to be nothing but cakes, cookies, and bread?Eat before hand, untill you are full. The compliment the hostess on her great party throwing/shoes/kindness. She’ll never notice you are skipping the donuts.
- Be Full: Many an excellent intention has been felled by an empty belly confronted with a bread basket.
- Eat enough carbohydrates: this is complicated, as most carbs you are used to eating contain gluten. Start by adding lots of starchy veggies and fruits to your diet. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, apples, pears, etc. Secondary options include things like rice or quinoa. For example: breakfast could be eggs with oven roasted potatoes (make a double batch at dinner) instead of toast, lunch could be turkey, sweet potato, and rice, instead of a turkey sandwich, dinner could be any combination of meat/veggies/and perhaps a non gluten grains like quinoa. Snacks could be yogurt with fruit and g-free granola, cheese slices with grapes, or jerky and dried fruit.
- Give up (most) white sugar. If there is a sugar/gluten combo (and just about all the them are) that’s a definite skip. Bridal shower brunch? Skip the zucchini bread and load up on fruit salad. Your gut will be so happy.
- Indulge! There are some amazing food that have no G. How about steak and veggies on the grill? Jalapeno’s stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon? Baked potatoes stuffed with toppings? Sweet potato oven fries? Yes, it is a sad, sad lifestyle having to eat all this goodness, but someone’s got to do it!
- Tweak your recipes: I adore the Pioneer Woman’s Comfort meatballs. The recipe needed a tiny tweak (with no flavor change whatsoever) and I had G-Free Comfort Meatballs. Get creative, you’ll suprise yourself with what you can do.
- Try new things! Quinoa for breakfast? With berries and whole milk, its amazing. Get a little crazy.
- Read, read, READ your labels. Gluten and wheat sneak into the darndest places. Like your store-bought granola bars. Look for words like hydrolyzed vegetable protein, flour, malt/malt flavoring, modified starch/modified food starch, vegetable gum, to name a few. Soy sauce, unless otherwise noted, contains gluten.
- Beware of deep friend stuff. Why do you think they call it “breading”?
- Allow yourself a sweet treat. Yes this sorta goes against #4. But I don’t mean drown yourself in a sea of cell altering white sugar. I mean, have a great piece of dark chocolate, or melt it and dip some strawberries into it. Or some fresh pineapple and raspberries. This is a great way to reward yourself for another day well done and one great step in the right direction.
I do think certain gluten-free products and sprouted/soaked grains have their place. However, when your starting out I feel they should be avoided, because often they just remind you of what you’re not eating. Every now and then I love a bowl of brown rice pasta. But if I went straight from traditional white pasta to brown rice I would feel dissatisfied and frustrated and miss my “normal” pasta. Many gluten-free products contain a lot of hidden sugars, which send your blood glucose on a roller coaster, often leaving you hungary and cranky. Hungary and cranky are not your friends in wise decision-making.
I’ll be posting some of my favorite G-Free, but in the meantime check out All Recipes extensive selection of G-Free recipes. Let me know what was good and what was not!