When I was a child, right up until about 2 years ago, I was an incredibly fussy eater. I would pick onions out of my food, I hadn’t ever eaten rice and would only eat melted cheese and not “raw” cheese. This caused numerous arguments at meal times with my parents, who understandably wanted to eat a variety of foods. Then relatively suddenly a new chapter started in my life, which changed the foods I could eat dramatically. I entered the gluten free world.
I was diagnosed with Celiac (Coeliac) disease back in December 2015. After becoming ill every week and having no energy to do anything I went for blood tests which came back as positive for Celiac disease as well as many other vitamin and an iron deficiency. This initially was a heartbreaking discovery, I couldn’t imagine a world where I would be able to eat nice food I enjoyed whilst cutting out gluten. Despite this my mum, who has been diagnosed several years prior, was a great help in getting me started in what I could and couldn’t eat. Much to my surprise, apart from occasionally not being able to eat certain things whilst out and the increase in cost of food (so annoying!) it wasn’t that difficult to do.
Gluten Free at home
Eating gluten free at home isn’t too difficult. If you are living in a shared kitchen the only issue really is cross-contamination. In order to cut this risk down, buy a separate toaster, chopping board and things like butters and jams etc.
You can buy many gluten free alternatives from most grocery stores, including bread (my favourite is Schar because a lot of it is also vegan!), pasta, cakes, biscuits and so much more. There are even options to get chicken nugget, fish fingers and pizza alternatives. The only problem with these are the fact that they can cost up to 3 times more than their non gluten-free counterparts and the gluten is sometimes substituted with additional sugars and fats which is incredibly annoying.
One alternative to buying the gluten free alternatives is to change your diet to contain more naturally non gluten containing ingredients. I often get asked “are rice and potatoes gluten free?” and thankfully the answer is yes! These are often really handy staples to add into meals, as well as Quinoa. If you are trying to eat gluten free on budget this is a perfect way to do so.
Gluten free at restaurants
This is probably the most difficult aspect of being gluten free. A lot of the places I would go to before to grab a quick lunch (e.g. Greggs who now actually do some gluten free options), were no longer suitable. Instead of letting this ruin things, you just have to plan a little more. Find a selection of places which you know you will always be able to get things from. In the UK my go to places are Marks and Spencers who have a good selection of gluten free food including grab and go lunch food and Pho who have a great selection of Vietnamese food which is super tasty and wonderfully gluten free.
At Chipotle virtually everything bar the burritos are GF. In-n-Out offer a mainly GF menu you just have to ask for “protein style” on your burger or grilled cheese which subs out the bread for lettuce wrap. Shake-shack have their own GF bun and blaze pizza offer a GF pizza base and they’ll even change their gloves to reduce cross contamination risks.
So as much as it may seem like eating out is a daunting task, with a little bit of research and planning you’ll be able to enjoy tasty gluten free food without too much hassle.
Tip: use “findmeglutenfree” it’s an app and website that allows you to find food places which offer gluten free food in your nearby area.
Gluten free recipes
After starting my gluten free diet, my tastes in foods became a lot broader. When you have to cut certain foods out it is natural to replace them. This led to me becoming interested in cooking and finding cool new recipes. Deliciously Ella and Livia’s Kitchen are great places to start to find GF recipes (they’re also mainly vegan as well which is amazing for those of us who choose to have several dietary requirements)
Some of my favourite things to make are Buddha Bowls, soups, and burrito bowls. There are so many other things you can cook as well using GF alternatives, but those mentioned above are handy because they mainly use naturally non GF foods.