I’ve been gluten free for 2 years now, for the most part, it’s almost impossible to not find a few tiny morsels of gluten on the path. Here’s what I’ve learned so far….
Gluten free is not a fad! 5 years ago I was the guy that thought the whole idea of a “Gluten Free” diet was, well—silly. I remember a close friend started a gluten free diet on her doctors recommendation and thinking “that sounds nutty”! Wheat is a natural food, isn’t whole wheat bread a health food? I learned soon enough that my own thinking was well—silly! It’s real, gluten and me don’t get along. I’m fairly sure there are many others that have no idea gluten could be the cause of their symptoms. Thankfully lots of research is ongoing in the world of gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance. Gluten revs up immune system so much that it attacks the small intestine(an autoimmune reaction) for those with Celiac disease, so the question that comes to my mind is what other organ systems could this small protein trigger an attack against?
Challenges Part of eating Gluen Free is dealing with new tastes and disappointment with things you can’t eat. Gluten Free items often do taste different, Bread, Pizza crust, bagels, etc don’t have the same texture. Eating a sandwhich isn’t quite the same. Cakes and cookies are different. I think one of the early things I discovered early on was to stop trying to compare things to what I was used to and just be glad that it was something I could eat. If I didn’t like it it was because I didn’t like it not necessarily because it wasn’t the same as it had been. There are good Gluten Free breads and there are bad, just like there are good regular breads and bad regular breads. Thankfully we now have a Gluten Free bakery in our area, that makes amazing gluten free baked good.
Eating out at restaurants is still a bit of a crap shoot, even with the proliferation of Gluten Free menus at many restaurants. Sadly, many of the staffs at these restaurants aren’t prepared for what Gluten Free really means. Gluten Free is what it says, Gluten Free! It’s not Gluten Free some of the time, it’s all the time. A bite of the cookie or a contaminated spoon is often enough to cause a reaction. So the challenges of contamination are always there.
Another challenge is the Gluten Free fad dieters. There are some that view it as a healtheir way to live. So they are Gluten Free when they choose to be, so they aren’t Gluten Free at all! This confuses everybody and actually causes problems for those that truely have to be Gluten Free. Take the confused waiter from above, he has to wait on the Gluten Free eater for the entree only to have them take a bite from a non-gluten free cake for desert. I have seen this happen.
I think the biggest challenge embarking on a Gluten Free diet is changing your mindset from what you can’t eat to what you can eat. Focusing on the foods you can eat and not on what you can’t is helpful. Early on I felt like I was on a crusade, thinking about others that could benefit with a Gluten Free diet, but now I have realized its a personal journey and one that i’m just beginning.