So after the latest bout of gluten-induced bodily trauma, my fiance is swearing off wheat…AGAIN. Why IS wheat so hard to give up? Modern wheat is an opiate. That’s right, it is actually addictive. The protein Gliadin is the culprit, and it is a great stimulator of appetite.
The most convincing thing you can do to determine if you should give up wheat, is stop eating it temporarily to see how you feel. Do it for a month. Then if you haven’t felt amazingly better, go back to eating wheat and see how you feel. Your body will tell you if you are addicted to wheat.
So You Want to Go to Wheat Rehab?
Step one: Commit! Lots of people claim they want to try going gluten free, but very few people are truly committed. If you give a real effort to avoid contamination, you may feel so great you won’t even be tempted.
Step Two: Stop cold turkey. Give away all that wheat, or if the thrift in you won’t allow it, you can stop buying it and eat what you have left. Just remember, the inflammation caused by wheat will stick around for awhile after you stop eating it. So the sooner you stop, the sooner you’ll feel better.
Step Three: Start creating a list (on paper, in your phone or in your mind) of safe items you can buy at the grocery to restock your cupboards. Read labels carefully (there’s probably an app for that). The less processed a food is the less likely it is to have hidden gluten ingredients. Try new foods! As you discover new foods to add to this list, you will find that you have so many gluten free options that you don’t feel limited.
Step Four: Start replacing your favorite meals with new favorite gluten free versions at home. Find local restaurants that have gluten free menus, or simply have a restaurant employee help you determine which items on the menu are gluten free, and keep track. Start experimenting with new recipes to replace the ones you have given up. Start with something you really love, like pizza or waffles.
Step Five: Plan ahead. If you have a plan for what you’re going to take for lunch and make (or order) for dinner this week, you’re less likely to cave and order a pizza.
Tips and Surprises
Gluten is hidden in lots of sneaky places using aliases you may not recognize. Did you know soy sauce and most vegetarian meat replacements have wheat in them?
While you’re educating yourself on what to watch out for, you could get an app to help with that if you have a smart phone. If you’re still using an antique phone and visiting the library (you could get an actual book) you can avoid these sneakers by avoiding processed foods. Whole foods have one ingredient so you’re certain to know what you are eating. If you must have processed foods (say you stink at making tomato sauce) go for the brand with the least amount of ingredients or look for things that are labeled gluten free.
Make sure you have some easy options to fall back on when you are first starting out. It can get frustrating, but like most things it gets easier the longer you stick with it.
We buy mostly whole foods, but here are some of our favorite EASY processed gluten-free items we keep in the house that are also available at the local grocery:
Food For Life brown rice tortillas (and dried beans for making refried beans)
Tofu Pups and Udi’s hotdog buns
Other easy food items to keep in the pantry:
fruits and vegetables
rice/rice cakes/rice crackers/rice cereal/rice pasta/rice flour
All of my recipes are Gluten Free, so if you’re looking for ideas, give them a try!