I decided to do a month-long trial of eating gluten-free for two reasons: one, because I have always had a lot of stomach problems and was hoping it would help, and two, because someone recently told me that a lot of people of Irish-descent have gluten-sensitivities (And hello! Have you seen me? I look like I was born and raised in that gorgeous country!).
So anyways, I tried it. I've been trying it for the entire month. I've been gluten-free for 28 days now (minus the one bite of a cracker that I took back on January 6th, when I honestly just forgot I was gluten-free until I started chewing!), and I'm really liking the way I feel. Not to gross you out, but I get a lot less "bloated" after eating, I don't feel as stuffed after my meals, and I have less "starving" feelings--a lot less of those low-blood sugar/I-need-to-eat-now-or-I'm-going-to-pass-out type feelings--which overall, I'd say is a good thing ;)
Therefore, today, I wanted to share the tricks that made going gluten-free possible for me. This is for my fellow grain-loving friends--those of you who, like me, get really sad when you think about not enjoying pita and hummus, whole wheat toast, or sandwiches (sigh).
Here are my 5 Ways to Survive Going Gluten-Free:
1. Embrace sweet potatoes. For most of us, when we go gluten-free, our main source of carbs (bread, cereal, pasta, etc.) goes out the door. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as many Americans eat WAY too many carbs, but for anyone who lives a fairly active life and who isn't trying to cut carbs, cutting out almost all of your carbs at once can be a big, difficult change. Thus, I've learned to embrace baked sweet potatoes. I already liked them before (sweet potato fries = heaven), but now they're my fave side item. Totally weird way I like them? Baked with salt, pepper, and Tzatziki on top. Delicious.
2. Become friends with brown rice + quinoa. These grains have become my BFF. Why? Because they add a little volume to my meals (and help me to mix things up!) without gluten. Sure, they take a little more work/prep than whipping together a sandwich, but just a little bit goes a long way.
3. Go mexican. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, as long as you get a gluten-free variety, tortilla chips are still fair game for those who are gluten-free. Yay! This means that you don't have to give up chips and salsa/guacamole (which I love), and if you get rice tortillas (not as good and kinda crunchy, but they work!), you can still enjoy a burrito or a soft taco along with your chips. When you eat meals like this, you really don't feel like you're missing out on anything ;)
4. Find your crunch elsewhere. I'm a girl who loves my crunch. One of my go-to meals for the past few years has been a salad with tofu (Trader Joe's pre-baked packages are the best) and hummus + pita chips. I literally eat it almost every day. So, it was really sad for me to not be able to enjoy my pita chips + hummus with my salads, and I had to seek out my crunch elsewhere. What I found that works? Adding nuts (I like pecans or walnuts), baby carrots, and/or munching on some gluten-free flax crackers (not too bad!) on the side. After a while, you almost start to like these things better (almost)...
5. Start your day with oatmeal. Hallelujah! I heart oatmeal, and luckily, it's still gluten-free. Enough said.
See, it's not so bad after all!? I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I think I'm going to remain gluten-free this year. Since I'm not officially allergic or celiac, I can still enjoy a gluten-free cheat every once in a while if I really want to (um, hello, cupcakes?!), but overall, I'm going to keep our home gluten-free. Wish me luck!
Are you gluten-free? What are some of your favorite meals, products, or treats!? Let me know, as I'm still learning and would love to find out more!