What’s up ya’ll.
I have another reader request today, this one coming from Jennifer.
Love the new site! I’m always looking for tips on how to eat with less gluten in my diet, but without eating processed foods. Making it easy, you know? But not as easy as grabbing something pre-made from Whole Foods just because it says “gluten free”.
Thanks Jennifer, that’s a great question, and one that I hear a lot from my friends, clients and co-workers.
For me, personally, my quest into a gluten-less life wasn’t overly difficult. But since I work with clients that may find it a bit more challenging to do, I’ve come up with a list of tips for you.
When I decided to remove gluten from my diet, I was in so much pain and so miserable from my digestive issues that I was extremely motivated to get rid of all the things that were causing me issues. Namely, gluten and dairy.
It’s been well over 3 years since I’ve parted with gluten, and when I do have the occasional indulgence (which always seems to happen after a night out and one drink too many), I am painfully reminded of why I kicked it to the curb in the first place.
Now, in my opinion and from my own experience working with nutrition and lifestyle clients, I am confident to say that most people can see improvements in their health, fitness, performance and overall well-being when gluten is removed from the diet.
Since Jenn has asked how she can eat less gluten without adding in processed foods, I’ll shy away from explaining what gluten is, where it can be found, and how to tell if you’re sensitive or intolerant to gluten.
Opening up this topic could end up in a dissertation length blog, which I have no interest in writing, and which, you probably have no interest in reading.
At the same time I don’t want to leave you high and dry, so I’ll recommend some resources that I’ve used with clients and for myself to help you better understand what gluten is, where it is found and what you can do if you suspect you are sensitive to it.
One of my favorites is from Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites. She has an awesome paleo-inspired food blog and some user-friendly resources you can download straight from her site. Below is her gluten-free guide which I use with clients.
FREE downloadable Gluten-Free Guide by BalancedBites.com: http://www.balancedbites.com/PDFs/BalancedBites_Gluten.pdf
For an in depth explanation of what gluten is here’s a great video from GlutenFreeSociety.org by Dr. Peter Osborne. http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/video-tutorial/gluten-sensitivity-what-is-it
To get back to Jenn’s question, here are some tips that I’ve used personally and with clients to start to incorporate more gluten-free eating:
1. Clean out your pantry of all gluten containing foods. This can be a big task and you may end up with nothing but mustard in your fridge, but if you are serious about incorporating gluten-free eating this is a must do first step.
2. Stock up on plenty of gluten-free foods and substitutions. When you are transitioning into a gluten-free diet, your best bet is to start stocking up on gluten-free necessities (or things you’ll really miss) like gluten-free pasta (that is, if you decide to keep grains in your diet), gluten-free baking flours, and gluten-free breakfast options like cream of buckwheat or amaranth, and quinoa. If you are trying to avoid packaged foods, you can typically pick up these items in bulk and use your own bag or mason jar if the store allows that.
3. Keep frozen meats and veggies in your fridge at all times. There will be times when you miss the grocery store and will be tempted to order out. And although you should have your indulges and get take out every now and then, keeping frozen meats and veggies in the house will help during those binds.
4. Visit farmer’s markets, or join a local CSA or farm share to ensure delivery of fresh local foods. For more info on CSA’s in your area check out http://www.localharvest.org
5. Buy a cow. Or a pig. Or lamb. Or all three. Yes, you can buy shares of animals at local farms, and when it’s time to take the animal to the butcher, you get fresh local meat. Sounds a little sadistic at first, but works very similar to a farm share. Use the link from above for local resources for this.
6. Make a weekly meal plan for yourself or your family. Make a list of the foods that you plan on eating for the week and make one big grocery store trip on the weekend to get you prepared for the week ahead. Cooking bigger meals and storing them in glassware will help you be ready for gluten-free meals throughout the week. When you have a clear plan of what you are eating for the week, you’ll spend less time in the grocery store and less time worrying about what’s for dinner on Thursday.
7. Have back-ups. Then have back-ups to your back-ups. Living gluten-free has taught me the fine art of readiness. Much like the military, you must have back-up plans, and then back-up plans to your back-up plans. Whether that means doing reconnoissance work on the best gluten-free restaurants in the area when you go on vacation, or leaving secret stashes of nuts and trail mix in your purse or office desk, always be ready.
8. Come up with 4-5 go-to meals and snacks that you know satisfy you and are easy to make. Some of my favorite go to meals are:
- Hard-boiled eggs with apples
- Sauteed beef with kale and taco seasoning and avocado
- Berry smoothie with coconut water
- Baked chicken, sweet potato and asparagus
These are meals that I know I LOVE, that satisfy my hunger, and are super-easy to make. Coming up with a few of your own will help you make better food choices when you’re stuck deciding what to eat.
One of the most important pieces of advice that I can give when you are adopting new dietary habits is to always be prepared. Know what’s available to you, know what you like, and have a plan of what you are eating for the week.
Setting yourself up with all the right tools before you even start will only help you succeed.
I hope that this list helped you, as these are the exact things that I do for myself and recommend to my clients.
If you are eating gluten-free, do you have any personal tips for us on how you do it?
What have you found that works for you? Or doesn’t work?