Are you new to a gluten-free lifestyle?
First and foremost welcome! I’m glad you’ve found my website and I am so excited to share the many tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way from just getting in my kitchen and playing with my food! Seriously, making this shift in lifestyle requires you to becoming intimately familiar with food and that’s a very good thing! When I was first diagnosed back in December of 2008, my initial gut reaction (pun intended) was pretty dramatic, as well as pretty embarrassing looking back in hindsight. But I’d been sick for the last five years and was physically in so much pain that it was a relief when my doctor told me I had Celiac Disease and that I wasn’t crazy or imagining things.
Having had a culinary background I knew exactly what gluten was, but that didn’t make things better. I was basically in what I like to refer to as “cranky toddler syndrome” – You know what I am referring to, we’ve all seen it when grocery shopping. It’s that little kid so upset he/she is screaming, crying and sitting on the floor in the grocery store flailing about, completely inconsolable. This was me in a nutshell. While excited to have a diagnosis and I understood what gluten was, food was such a paramount part of my life, it was how my family connected as I was growing up. Having been diagnosed with Celiac Disease was like being issued a death sentence and I didn’t know where to start? Fortunately I’d just moved to Austin, TX and Whole Foods Market flagship store was at my disposal. So I marched my little cranky toddler ass into Whole Foods and low and behold they had a list of gluten-free foods and products they sold in their store. I was so relieved as this meant transitioning over to this new lifestyle would be easier with this list! You can read more about my journey and struggles in a recent blog post here.
My hopes with Blinded by the Bite!™ is I get to make your journey easier as you transition into a gluten-free lifestyle. It is just that, a lifestyle, not a diet. Don’t be fooled. One cannot do a one-for-one swap with gluten-free foods and not have some struggles, as many gluten-free products on the market contain markedly more sugar and other various ingredients that are just not good for our bodies. Don’t get me wrong I like to enjoy chips from time to time or don’t have time to make homemade cookies, but I limit these types of foods and if I do buy them, I make sure the ingredient list is very short! My recommendation is to be prepared, eat healthy, nutrient dense foods and weed out all the processed crap. Yes you will most certainly focus on all the foods you can’t eat any longer, but don’t waste your time. Focus on all the good delicious foods you can eat, it will help trust me.
Here is a list of on-line resources I found very helpful to me when I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease:
- Celiac Disease Foundation
- Celiac Sprue Association ®
- The Gluten Intolerance Group ®
- The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
- Whole Foods Market: Gluten-Free Product List
Also note, gluten is not just in the food we eat, it’s also in personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, make-up, medications and vitamins and sunscreen. Whole Foods carries many personal care products that are gluten-free, as well as does Red Apple Cosmetics.
I would highly recommend reading blogs that deal with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance and other food allergies. You can find so many amazing recipes, learn new cooking skills, as well as set up a support system to not only help ease you into this new lifestyle, but sustain it. You will find having this support system and being part of a community is critical , as trust me you will have days you’ll want to cheat. Don’t, it’s not worth the set back physically or emotionally. You will feel the difference in not only your body, but also in your clarity of thought and general overall wellness.
Here are just a few of my favorite blogs:
- A Girl Defloured
- Anne Allen Wellness
- Blackbird Bakery
- Gluten Dude
- Laura B. Russell
- Michael Natkin
- Oh She Glows
- Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free
- Sprouted Kitchen
- The Blender Girl
- The Celiac Diva
- With Style & Grace
There are so many more blogs I read/subscribe to than those listed above. There is always conversation and information sharing happening in the gluten-free community so make sure to follow me over on Twitter at @BlindedBite and you to can start following other food writers who focus on Celiac Disease and/or gluten intolerance. Attend conferences that focus on Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance and food allergies such as the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo & Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event, both of which travels across the US each year. Nourished – A Flood Bloggers Conference is another great conference that primarily deals with food allergies and you don’t have to be food writer to attend. There are endless cookbooks and magazines available to you, that will help you “play with your food” and sustain a gluten-free lifestyle.
I promise you this will not become a thing of the past. Many chefs and restaurants have recognized the need to give gluten-free options to their customers. Not all gluten-free dishes are created equal however. This is where understanding what contains gluten is important, but also being aware that you now have to watch for cross contamination when dining out. I explain more about cross contamination on the “Where does gluten hide” tab above. Be kind to your wait staff – Many are well-educated as to gluten-free dining and how dishes are prepared, but there are those whom are not. Simply put, be nice when ordering your meal – plain and simple!
Traveling and worried how to handle living a gluten-free lifestyle on the road?
Here are some really great bloggers/writers and app’s that will help empower you to navigate the world:
- Gluten-Free Globetrotter
- Gluten-Free Passport
- Gluten-Free Traveler
- Find Me Gluten-Free (App)
- Locate Special Diet (App)
I travel on a regular basis both here in the states and internationally. I am working on a series of City Guides that I will be publishing later this year that will highlight my travels and give you specific recommendations to restaurants and more!
I can’t begin to tell you how much better you will feel once you’ve removed gluten from your eating routine. It may take some time for your to start feeling better, it varies from person to person, as our bodies are individual ecosystems. How my body reacts to gluten may vary from your response. Be patient and kind to yourself during this process. Those words were shared with me over and over, they’re invaluable. Pay attention to how your body is feeling and your thoughts as well. Why do I suggest this? Many times when an individual has one autoimmune disease, when we start to remove items from our daily eating routine and we don’t start feeling better. It could be one, it just takes your body longer to get all the “gunk” out, but it could also be you may have another medical issue. This is why its important to pay attention to your body, but also be in contact with your doctor. I see both an internist and functional medicine/naturopath and early on also discovered I also have Sjogrens Syndrome which masked and mimicked some symptom similar to that of Celiac Disease.
Like Bethany Frankel says “Come from a place of yes” – It’s a transition to a new lifestyle. Be open to the changes. Every dish you cook will not be perfect and that is ok. Get in the kitchen and play with your food! I can’t wait to hear about your journey so please feel free to share here on my website and other social channels. You are part of my community and support system!
Where does gluten hide?
Let’s start first with what is gluten? Gluten is a protein composite (of a gliadin and a glutenin) that is typically found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and other related grains. Gluten is what gives baked goods it’s elasticity, allowing the dough to rise to great heights and keep its shape. But where else do you find gluten?
Don’t get overwhelmed by this list and look at it from the perspective of “what I can’t eat” – there are many foods that are naturally gluten-free, including fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, legumes, nuts, potatoes, rice, fish and meat.
Grains that contain gluten:
- Cracked wheat
- Fu (common in Asian foods)
- Graham flour
- Oats (oats don’t contain gluten but are typically processed in plants that also process wheat based projects or products containing gluten)
- Triticale (cross between wheat and rye)
Don’t fear there are some really great alternatives to the list above that actually in some cases have a higher nutrition value (contain more protein):
I don’t use any flour blends that contain xanthan gum, as it’s basically fermented mold that’s used in gluten-free products to replicate the texture achieved when using flours that contain gluten.
Other products containing gluten:
- Cakes and pies
- French Fries
- Malt flavoring
- Personal care products (shampoo, conditioner, cosmetics)
- Processed lunch meat & seafood
- Salad dressings
- Sauces (including soy sauce)
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods (Chips)
- Self-basting poultry
- Soup bases
- Sour cream (contains modified food starch which is typically wheat based)
- Vegetables in sauces
As I stated, dining out can have it’s particular challenges for individuals like you and I who have Celiac Disease and/or are gluten intolerant. Avoid the following foods when dining out and make sure to ask your wait staff about a dish and how it’s prepared if you’re not sure:
- Fried foods (most restaurants don’t use separate fryers for gluten-free items so this becomes an issue of cross contamination)
- Sauces – many sauces use wheat and/or wheat germ as a thickening agent
Cross-contamination occurs when gluten-free foods come into contact with foods that contain gluten. It can happen during the manufacturing process, such as, if the same equipment is used to make a variety of products. Some food labels include a “may contain” statement if this is the case. But be aware that this type of statement is voluntary. You still need to check the actual ingredient list. If you’re not sure whether food contains gluten, don’t buy it or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains.
Cross-contamination can also occur at home if foods are prepared on common surfaces or with utensils that weren’t thoroughly cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing foods. Using a common toaster for gluten-free bread and regular bread is a major source of contamination, for example. Consider what steps you need to take to prevent cross-contamination at home, school or work.
Remember it’s important to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle. Even trace amounts of gluten in your body may be damaging, whether or not they cause signs or symptoms.
Consulting – Blinded by the Bite! ™
I talk about the crossroads of food and conversation and this being where people connect. Talking about the foods we eat and how they affect our bodies is important, especially when living with Celiac Disease. I work with clients to help them learn how to live a healthy gluten-free lifestyle.
Whether you’re just starting out and need help with a menu plan, grocery shopping and selecting which gluten-free products are the best, recipes, where to dine out, or are as ambitious as to do a pantry makeover, I will personally teach you how to prepare gluten-free meals from scratch, sharing my knowledge and tips on how to maintain a healthy gluten-free lifestyle. I love what I do and want to share it with those who are on the same journey I started so many years ago.
I also work with catering companies, chef’s, food trucks and restaurants to develop gluten-free recipes, as well educating clients to restaurant set-up and cross contamination issues when adding gluten-free items into your menu line-up. It’s easier than you think I promise!
Interested in working with me one-on-one? Shoot me an email via “Contact Me” and we can put together a plan customize just for you or your restaurant!
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This blog is written and edited by Rachelle King. Rachelle King and Blinded by the Bite!™ | Blinded by the Bite! Lifestyle Group™ assume no responsibility and/or liability for any damages you may experience as a result of following recipes, instruction or advice on this website. Information on this web site was obtained from a variety of resources, including medical and nutritional publications and is provided for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals. Consult your practitioner before beginning or making changes to your diet, supplements, exercise program, diagnosis or treatment of illness or injuries and for advice regarding medications. Statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
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