So you've discovered you suffer from gluten intolerance? Assuming it is severe like mine, the second thing you experienced after the initial relief of discovering the cause of your ill-health and agony, is fear over how you will find food eat that you love. Or staples that you won't get sick of after eating them seven days a week.
Keep in mind that I am GFCF (gluten-free and casein-free) so my personal agony at the loss of ice cream, cheese and pizza, to name a few, still tortures me occasionally. For the most part, however, I have built a solid strategy of food enjoyment not despite my restrictions, but in the face of them, catalyzed by their discovery.
This is just the barest beginning of a tip list. Feel free to add to the forum GF thread with tips. I will likely add a thread for GF and GFCF product reviews. For the past three years I have amassed over 200 safe products and built dozens of recipes, cooked and baked things I never had considered before. Necessity truly is the mother of invention. I have a better understanding and feel better about what I eat than ever before, despite building a good technical nutritional foundation over the previous 15+ years.
Constantly think about your food creatively. Consider new foods as well as new ways to work with foods you've been using for ages. There can be an element of adventure to the process, and in removing such a major element from your diet, you can still enrich your experience.
Common Crevices for Hidden Gluten
You might be forced to re-examine your dietary practices. If the result is feeling better, as well as having a better understanding of how to create the dishes and meals that are safe your you, then that’s a win. I don’t think that you can over-react if you are very gluten intolerant, especially given the prospect of intestinal damage that takes so long (up to a year+ to heal properly). Go hard-core and start eliminating anything that is even a bit suspect. You will find that you will be finding hidden gluten for months and probably for years.
- Replace the toaster
- Replace wooden kitchen implements like spoons, cutting boards, bowls, and rolling pins
- Be careful to clean any small appliances that you do keep. Look under the blade of your hand mixer for the little rubber bit that can trap all sorts of gunk.
- If you have cupboards that extend over your counters, wipe under them. Flour gets everywhere, and things can splash in general (have a peak under there and you may be surprised or horrified)
- Even if it looks clean, clean it. Don’t just use it. Most of the time the amount of gluten that can hurt most people will not be obvious at a glance (imagine wiping the counter with a tea towel. It may look clean but it is really a mine field.)
- Don’t forget to clean out the cutlery tray in the kitchen drawer.
- Be especially careful to re-clean anything in the kitchen that you might have been in the habit of just rinsing out from time to time such as certain bowls or small appliances.
- Anything that cannot be properly washed because of the electronics, such as a Panini maker or sandwich maker should almost always be replaced.
Dodging the Gluten
- If you are not sure, do not eat it. Trust me, it isn't worth it, not even sometimes.
- Read the label every time.
- If the packaging has changed since you ate it last, read the label again.
- Check the company’s web site for GF info. Often it will tell you.
- Do a web search to see if others vouch for it. Unless you can corroborate the GF listing, tend to not trust a product just because someone in a forum said it was safe, though.
- If you are eating a new recipe, make certain there is only one new ingredient or product, so you know what to blame it you have a reaction.
- Keep in mind other factors like stress, flu, food poisoning, that could give a "false positive" bad reaction. On the other hand, do not hope that it was stress and assume a food is safe.
- Focus on making sure you fulfilling your nutritional requirements. Go to a nutritionist if you aren't very knowledgeable (check with your insurance provider, it may be covered).
- Research on your own.
- If you can’t find it, make it.
- Use Twitter and Facebook. Ask people if you have a question about a product or ingredient that you are not sure about. Also tell people about it if you discover a product that is not okay or is contaminated. People will appreciate that.
- Challenge yourself. Try to convert that food or recipe that you miss so much into gluten-free. Tip: someone on the web probably already has.
- Remember relaxation: if you do get a trace of gluten, sometimes relation exercises, deep breathing (in whatever situation you find yourself in), and meditation might help you only experience one day or night of agony instead of being out of commission for two or more. The less your body thinks it has gone though a war, the faster you will recover.
- Be aware that if your symptoms have suddenly come back and you think that you still gluten-free, it is possible that you have developed an additional intolerance, such as soy or dairy intolerance. Many of the symptoms you experience may feel like gluten intolerance, too. This means that you should careful about labeling food or ingredients as contaminated by gluten to hastily. If you are experiencing lactose intolerance, then you can simply take some lactase enzyme in many cases and avoid further symptoms, for example.
- Finally, keep in mind that if you are gluten sensitive, it is possible that you have become intolerant and items or cosmetics, for example, that contain gluten could now be giving you problems.