I look at the two top reasons why, in my practice, women take on a gluten free lifestyle. They have either realized an intolerance exists and are eager to shed the layers of inflammation, chronic pain, excess weight, acne, depression or infertility, OR, they have read a compelling article, blog post or book giving them studies and reasons why a lifestyle free of gluten is a good shift to make.
There have also been women who call me with this request, “Can you help me figure out my food thing?”.
To which I reply, “Your food thing?”
And then I hear, “Yes, my food thing.”
Upon further conversation we find that these women are making lifestyle changes left and right that aren’t rendering results worth staying committed to. What I find is they go dairy free because a friend is doing it or they go gluten free because their mother suggests it. A few days or weeks in they decide eliminating dairy isn’t working so they reintroduce dairy and cut sugar. This is crazy making.
One recommendation I give to women like the above is to see a holistic practitioner who does food sensitivity testing so they have data to back up of “what’s so” with their body. I also recommend she choose ONE THING and stick to it. Sticktoitiveness is one thing missing in our culture of healthy lifestyle change.
Some things may change right off the bat, folks, such as more energy and better sleep, and, they may not. Change takes time. Have you ever seen a caterpillar turn into a butterfly with the snap of a finger? It’s the same with celebrities. We think their fame happens over night, and that’s just not the case.
When taking on lifestyle change, going cold turkey is fine for some and others find baby steps are the path to take.
3 Different Baby Steps to Going Gluten Free
1. Begin with allowing one serving per day of gluten.
You quickly realize just how much gluten you are getting on a daily basis when you have cereal and/or toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, crackers as a snack and pasta for dinner.
Choose one time to have your gluten containing food during the day. Maybe you have toast for breakfast, a slice of turkey wrapped around a cheese stick with veggies for lunch and rice pasta for dinner. Or a smoothie for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and bun-less burger for dinner.
2. Substitute for Gluten Free Products
I’m not a huge fan of bringing in a substitution for everything gluten in our lives. It’s just not a healthy way to go, AND, you have to start somewhere. Simply eliminating the gluten from the beginning is a step in the right direction, however, when replaced with gluten free high starch replacement foods, you’ll likely find yourself with the same complains and concerns in a short period of time.
Perhaps you replace your morning Brownberry Bread with an Udi’s Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin bread, enjoy a salad for lunch and grilled chicken breast with asparagus and sweet potatoes for dinner.
If pasta is your thing a few times per week, use a quinoa/brown rice pasta as a substitute.
Initially if grabbing a bag of gluten free cookie mix meets the needs for the office day goodie tray you are responsible for on Fridays, then do it, however, because of the sugar content, you might want to bring a bag of apples next time or find a healthy gluten free cookbook that introduces you to cleaner baking and cooking such as Nourishing Meals by Tom Malterre.
3. Start with One Meal per Week
Another way to slowly change over to gluten free eating is to take one meal at a time, one week at a time.
For the first week tackle breakfast. You can have gluten free oatmeal, scrambled eggs, smoothies, egg bakes, sausage, gluten free granola and even gluten free waffles for your morning meal. Continue eating your lunch, dinner and snacks as usual as:
a) get familiar with eating breakfast every day and reap the myriad of health benefits that comes from that, and
b) get more comfortable with broadening your horizon with the morning meal.
Now that you’ve tackled breakfast, continue your successful work there and add your mid morning snack. Great and easy ideas for this include nuts/seeds/dried fruit, veggies and hummus, apples and nut butter or cheese and gluten free crackers.
Once you’ve accomplished that for a week, include lunch. You’ll soon realize you get full off a small scoop of tuna salad without the bread and fresh vegetables with an orange, or the salad bar, a stir fry or a simple yogurt and berries bowl.
You’ll continue this to include a mid afternoon snack, then move on to tackling dinner. After 5-6 weeks you will have shifted from a diet that contains gluten, likely at every stinkin’ meal, to a lifestyle of gluten free eating.