Surviving Gluten Free in a Wheat Filled World

5 03 2010

Do you know what happens when you bake gluten free brownies at 9pm?  You eat gluten free brownies at 9:05pm.

People ask me all the time how in the world I can eat gluten free.  I guess it seems overwhelming at first, I remember getting the call from the doctor.  We were on the road traveling to a race and I was freaked and overwhelmed and sure I was going to starve to death.  Six years later it seems like no big deal.  There are gluten free options everywhere.  I get a lot of emails from friends that need gluten free help and I am not always the best about returning every email, so I thought a blog post would cover everybody!

Top ten tips for surviving gluten free living:

1.  Find your go-to food.  For me, getting hungry in a house full of non-gluten free food can incite panic.  I know that fruits etc. are gluten free (see #2) but sometimes I need something else and I need to know it’s on hand and easy to grab.  For both my son (7 year old) and I it’s the Envirokids bars.  At any given time you can find 3 -4 boxes in my pantry.  It might not be the most healthy thing, but it’s quick carbs that keep me going.

2.  Real food is gluten free.  Fruits, veggies, meat – simple and real food in it’s simple and real form is gluten free.  Banana – gluten free, Oranges – gluten free, Good old fashioned steak – yup, gluten free.

3.  Get a toaster oven.  A toaster is dangerous when you live in a mixed house.  If you toast a slice of bread and look at the toaster after words you will understand that bread/gluten stuff leaves a lot of residue.   Because we don’t have the kitchen space for two toasters we swapped out with a good toaster oven.  I can clean the toaster oven or even use  a separate rack for gluten free foods.

4.  Learn to love toasted bread.   All gluten free bread tastes better toasted.  Some are o-k in the microwave, but for the most part a toasted piece of gluten free bread is always better.

5.  Gluten flours taste different.  If you expect to taste gluteny, soft and spongy bread you WILL be disappointed.    After about a month of eating gluten free flours you get used to them.  I don’t think I know what gluten tastes like, which is a good thing.  It tastes a little grainier, a little drier, just different.  Learn to love the different and it will be much easier.

6.  Learn to cook with gluten free flours.  For years I ate boxed gluten free stuff.  I was afraid of the big strange words like Xantham gum, Guar gum . . .  Once we put my son on a gluten free diet I had to take the plunge and learn to cook the stuff.  Gluten free food is more expensive.  I could manage it when it was just me, but with both of us we can’t afford the hundreds of extra food dollars.  Rather than buy a $6 bag of pancake mix I have learned how to make homemade gluten free pancakes for around $3 a batch.  And, it is always yummier.  There are SO many gummy gluten free blogs out there.  I won’t list them all here, but if you email me directly I will send you some of my favorites.

7.  Read every label.  Learn to recognize the hidden glutens.  Soy sauce – gluten (usually made with wheat, not soy – who would have known?)  A lot of sauces and processed foods use wheat gluten as a thickener, a binder, a flavoring. . . Manufacturers are getting much better about labeling wheat, but check twice.

8.  Step away from that powerbar.  Speaking of things with gluten . . .  Find companies that are gluten free and support them.  My sports nutrition of choice,  and a company that is dedicated to providing gluten free sports nutrition is First Endurance.  I *heart* them.

9.  Every once and a while keep a food log.  If you are finding that you are having flair ups go to straight to the log, do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Be a good detective.   I was having a 3 day contamination and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was getting to me.  I traced it back to the pre-packed gluten free bags of chips I had eaten.  I had gotten a bunch of big bags of chips/ pretzels etc.  Anna sat down one afternoon and bagged them for me in ziploc bags for lunches.  Unfortunately she was eating gluten filled pretzels WHILE she was doing the bagging.  Cross-contamination was the culprit.   Be a detective.

10.  Sometime you just need brownies.  Thank you to Betty Crocker for making inexpensive and super yummy cake, brownie and cookie mixes.  When it’s 9pm and you just NEEEEEED brownies – grab the box and make some yummmmmy brownies.  Thank you Betty Crocker.

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4 responses

5 03 2010
Joel

Interesting info. OK, I know this may sound dumb…I’ve seen lots of blogs and info on ST or BT about being gluten free, but I don’t understand exactly why someone would want to do this, what the benefits are, etc. Perhaps you could write about it sometime??? If it’s a selfish ask on my part, you could email me. 🙂

6 03 2010
Kendra

mmmm i love Betty’s GF brownies!
Thanks for the tips on getting into GF flours. I’ve been hesitant but could certainly use the cash I’d save towards race registration fees!

What is ST or BT?

8 03 2010
coachkati

ST is slowtwitch.com (a little harsher I think) and BT is beginnertriathlete.com – Personally I prefer the forums on BT, people are much more polite, most of the time : )

8 03 2010
Kendra

Ah, I’ve used both those sites, but apparently not enough to recognize the acronyms out of context. I was thinking it’d be something GF related.

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