Saturday, October 1, 2016

How Do You Begin Changing Your Diet?

So you've decided to eliminate certain foods. But how do you start?  I barely knew anyone that was  gluten free when I started my journey. I was told to take out dairy, soy, gluten and eggs. I felt like I may as well have been told to go to the moon on a scooter. Where do you even begin?  Here are my suggestions. . .

1) Stock up on foods you CAN eat. There's nothing worse than going off foods and feeling like you are starving to death. I think the number one thing is to plan meals and have lots of food on hand that you can eat before you dive in.  The preparation time will pay off. Always knowing you have something you can grab to eat, makes it way easier not to give in and order pizza. Buy, nuts, rice pasta, corn pasta, gf crackers, gf pretzels, gf chips, fruit, etc. Have some quick meals like Amy's GF,DF, SF mac and cheese ready. Go to my amazon store on the upper right hand corner to get ideas of things to start with. Vegan Nutribiotic (GF and SF free) protein  powder is a great thing to have to start.This allergy friendly protein powder helps make an easy shake to help you get through any day, especially during an adjustment period.

2) Start by eating simple things that are naturally free of those foods. For example, chicken and rice.   Or fish and baked potatoes. Having these sort of basic meals is a great way to start. If you are going to avoid gluten try a meal that is naturally gluten free.

3) Find blogs, and cookbooks that someone recommends or get good reviews on Amazon. I would suggest the cookbooks on my blog.  The website: silvanaskitchen.com has recipes that are naturally gluten free, as well as ones that use special flours. www.nourshingmeals.com is another one of my favorites. When I started I had a cookbook that required something like 10 different gluten free flours. Every recipe had different flours to use. To start baking required quite a commitment because I needed to buy so many different flours. That's why I prefer, "Cooking for Isaiah" or "Gluten Free Baking Classics" (see side bar). They require only 3 types of flour. Period. Almost every recipe calls for it. So you buy those flours and you are set.

4) Try the Gluten free sampler here. This could be a great way for you to try products and see what you like. (warning: this turned out to not be quite what I had hoped.)

5) Go to a health food store and ask for help.  I went to a health food store and told them about my problems. Someone basically held my hand, to help me find products I could eat.  Through someone there, I learned that garbanzo flour is the closest in texture/etc to wheat flour. I also learned that spelt cannot necessarily be tolerated by those who are off of gluten. I went home with a basket full of goodies that I could eat.

5) Cook larger meals and have leftovers the next day for lunch. Or freeze one serving for a later day. That way you aren't cooking all of the time and have something ready to eat in a pinch.

6) Get Cecilias Marketplace Guide here. This manual that will help you find safe foods at any store.  Once you know it's a good product you can keep buying it. Don't worry, you won't be walking around the supermarket with your nose stuck in this book forever. the edition I have includes foods that are mutually gluten, casein (dairy) and soy free.  It isn't all inclusive, but the ones in there are verified to be safe.

7) Buy some flours, and start baking. Bake double batches so you have extra on hand. I would suggest not going too crazy in baking to start. You don't want to get burned out and overwhelmed. But baking double batches of things once or twice a week, can make a huge difference. It can also make you feel like you aren't baking all of the time. I take a muffin out when I'm ready for it.

8) Look at my substitutions (label on the right). Soon you can make any recipe and just substitute in what my substitutions say (or your favorites). At first it may be easiest to do recipes that don't require eggs, or breadcrumbs, or milk. But later you can add in some of these substitutions. Soon, you can cook almost any recipe by just switching out these things.

9) Get good cooking gadgets. A good food processor, blender, bread maker, ice cream maker, waffle maker, garlic press, food chopper, knife set and dishwasher are some possibilities. I find that I cook more now than I did before taking these things out of my diet. Truth be told, there aren't that many ready-made things I can eat, so I need to make a lot of food from scratch. By getting a few of those kitchen gadgets, it made my life that much easier. A quiet dishwasher was high on my list.  Dish washing is one of my all time least favorite chores, but with a nice quiet dishwasher this makes me way more likely to cook. My old one sounded like the ocean roaring in my kitchen. It was so loud, I didn't want to turn it on most of the time.

10) This will get cheaper. After awhile you won't be trying "dud" products. You will know where to get "such and such" at a good price.  It may not be inexpensive, but it won't break the bank like it does when you start. Go here to do gluten free (or allergen free) on a shoestring.

11) Keep in mind the food will taste different. I know someone who said he likes to try new foods. When going gluten free instead of thinking, "this will taste like an english muffin," he thinks, "this will be something totally new, and maybe I'll like it". If you aren't trying to find something identical to what you are "replacing" it can make a huge difference. For me, a huge part of changing my diet was letting go of my idea that food should taste the same as it always did. It will be different. It may even be delicious. Even if it's called an "english muffin", it may not be exactly the same. It's something totally new. This helps with disappointment and helps make the transition easier. It can be hard to do! Cheese substitutes were the hardest for me to let go of my ideal with.

12) Here are traveling tips with food allergies.

13) Here is how to go gluten (or allergen) free without losing your mind.

14) If you go to a potluck bring a main dish that you can eat. This way you are guaranteed to be able to eat something. If you go to a b-day party, bring your own ice cream, or cake. You can explain your intolerance and people usually are ok with it even if they may not totally understand.

15) Take heart, this will get easier! So much easier! At first you feel like you are climbing uphill with a ball and chain on your ankle, but before you know it, this will become normal. Pretty soon, these foods will be second nature to make. After awhile, all of this won't seem so bad.

16) Be encouraged. If you truly have a food intolerance it will be worth it. I heard once, "food is my medicine" from someone who had celiac disease. If it makes you feel that much better. It truly is like medicine. This transition will be worth it!



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