August 25, 2011 - The emails that my readers send me tend to go through spurts. Sometimes all of the emails are very encouraging. Sometimes they are filled with questions from the curious. At other times, the emails are filled with whiny complaints and excuses. We’re in one of those phases right now, so here’s some tough love. If you don’t need it right now, it will be hear when you do.
If you’re struggling with any of the following 10 issues, then learn how to love your gluten free life by reading my e-book. I really do want to help you, not just virtually scold you =)
10. You haven’t seen any improvements in your symptoms. At first glance it would seem reasonable to stop the gluten free diet if you’re symptoms are not improving. But, let’s ask a couple of questions first.
First, how long have you been gluten free? Some people see improvement in their symptoms within days. For others it takes months. Give yourself time to heal, especially if your symptoms indicated that there was a lot of inflammation in your body.
Second, have you really taken this gluten free diet seriously? Have you really been gluten free. There is a steep learning curve when you go gluten free. It can take a while to find all the sources of gluten in your diet. Have you been super careful about reading lables and avoiding foods that could have been contaminated with gluten? Have you been sure to use cookware that’s not contaminated with traces of gluten? If you’re not certain that you’ve been 100% gluten free, then it’s not time to stop the diet due to lack of improvement. read more
9. You don’t think that a little bit of gluten will hurt. If you believe this and you have celiac, then you’re lying to yourself. When you have celiac disease you’re body attacks the gluten when you eat it (or sometimes when you just touch it). That hurts your body, so don’t play around and have even a pinch of a slice of cake that’s made from wheat flour.
But perhaps you just have a wheat allergy….or gluten doesn’t seem to agree with you but you’ve not actually been diagnosed with celiac disease. You shouldn’t be playing around with gluten either!
If you have a wheat allergy then your body probably experiences some sort of inflammation when you eat wheat. Inflammation is NOT good for your body. And that gluten intolerance…..how do you know that’s not going to turn into something serious down the road. I’ve had way too many readers tell me that their ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, etc cleared up with they stopped eating gluten. You may not have those symptoms now….and you don’t want to. So stop sneaking the gluten when no one is watching!
8. You’re not paying attention to labels. This one is sneaky. Reading labels is boring and tedious and no one’s description of fun. But it’s absolutely necessary if you’re going to stay gluten free all the time. You have to be vigilant and suspicious and alert if you’re going to stay gluten free while eating manufactured foods. Companies change their ingredients all the time…and they process foods that should be gluten free on or near equipment that processes wheat, barley and rye.
7. You don’t have any willpower. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. If there is something that I’m not supposed to eat in the house, then I’m going to eat it. It may not be today, and it might not be tomorrow, but as soon as I get frustrated or discouraged, or tired I will eat that food like it’s the last edible food on this plant.
I’m not about to tell you to have more willpower. Gluttony (which this is, if we’re honest with ourselves) is listed as one of the deadly sins, and I’d be a fool to tell you to just have more willpower. Instead, get the gluten out of the house. If you don’t have willpower, then no one in your house should be allowed to eat food that you can’t eat. You’re health is too important. If the food’s not in the house, then you don’t have to have willpower to stay away, so the problem is solved.
6. You think a GF diet is too expensive. A gluten free diet can be expensive, but if you’re using that as an excuse to not stay on it, then you’re only thinking about the short-term. Is the price of gluten free groceries more than the price of treating stomach or colon cancer in 15 years? Is it more expensive than the lost productivity from having daily bouts of diarrhea, and bloating? Is it more expensive than emergency room trips for migraines, and all of the prescriptions that aren’t doing any good at actually curing what’s wrong with you?
You can find a way to eat a gluten free diet on your budget. You may have to spend more time working on your shopping skills. You may have to cut other costs so that you have more money for groceries. You may not be able to eat gluten free baked goods, which are the most expensive part of a gluten free diet. You many need to to apply for food stamps ask for charitable help that you’re pride is otherwise keeping you from doing. But you can find a way to eat a GF diet if you decide that you’re going to do that.
5. You can’t find GF ingredients You’re wrong. Gluten free ingredients are all around you. Check the produce section and the freshly butchered meats.
Now, you may not be able to find gluten free flours at your local grocery (I’m not),and I know how frustrating that can be, especially if you’re used to the convenience. But you can drive to a larger town or order them on the internet. For those of you who are thinking, “But, I can’t order them on the internet because I don’t buy things on the internet,” I’m not accepting that as an excuse. The gluten free ingredients are there, you’ve just made a choice not to buy them. So, drive over to the big city or circle your cart back to the produce and meat section.
4. You’re not planning ahead. This one’s tough. Planning ahead for every food eventuality is not something that we’re used to, at least not in the United States. But, if you’re going to stay gluten free you need to plan for the times you’re going to be hungry. That means having gluten free food stashes at the office, in your purse, or in the car. That means planning your meals and going grocery shopping so that there is food in the house that you can (and want) to eat. And it means calling the restaurant or checking their website beforehand to make sure that they can feed you. I know you’re busy, but take care of yourself and plan ahead so that you won’t be tempted to cheat.
3. You’re proud. So, you just ate a wilted iceburg lettuce salad with mealy, pink tomatoes while everyone around you enjoyed a delicious meal. Congratulations, you stayed gluten free but you’re not going to be gluten free for long.
Nobody wants to eat disgusting gluten free food. Make sure this doesn’t happen. You’re important. If your friends are going to a restaurant that won’t have food for you, speak up. If you’re traveling and the restaurants don’t have good options for you (It’s tough to find anything but fried foods and hamburgers in rural areas), then make everyone stop at the grocery store so that you can get some food. A meal of grapes, nuts, and cheese would be better than a wilted iceburg salad.
Stop worrying about inconveniencing everyone and stop worrying about what they think. You need food, and you need food that won’t hurt your body and that’s delicious. Because if it’s not delicious then you’re not going to stick with it.
2. You’re not trying. Are you losing weight on a gluten free diet because you’ve been eating the same three foods over and over again, and have actually stopped eating because you’re tired of those foods. There are plenty, PLENTY, of naturally gluten free foods. Go figure out what they are and start eating again.
Oh wait, there’s a hand in the back. Oh, you can’t eat gluten and x, and y, and z, and a, and b, and c, and d? I understand that’s difficult, (really, I do!) but please stop whining about it and start focusing on what you can eat. Stop getting all emotionally wrapped up in a pity party and start looking for some recipes that will work for you. Google will not hurt you….start searching for recipes now.
1. You’re afraid. Here’s the biggie. Some of you are not sticking to a gluten free diet, because you are afraid to stay on a gluten free diet. You may be afraid of change. You may be afraid of what it would mean for your life if you started feeling better.
You may be afraid of what life would be like if you couldn’t eat your favorite (gluten-filled) foods. You’re afraid of cooking. You’re afraid of baking. You’re afraid of failure.
Fear will come of with many things for you to be afraid of, and the fears are all illusions. If you can pinpoint a fear that’s keeping you from staying gluten free, then please, please, please start working on that area of your life. Figure out what you’re afraid and do something about. Don’t let fear stop you from being a vibrant, healthy person.