A Gluten-Free Diet for Chronic Pain Series – Part 2 – You Can Go Gluten-Free Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking the Bank

In the first part of this 5-part series, we went over what gluten really is and why you should avoid it.

 

If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 yet, I strongly recommend doing so before continuing on with the series. This way, you’ll know why I created this series and what I plan to cover throughout.  

 

Common Question 1: How would I even get started on a gluten-free diet?

 

 

The best way to get started on a gluten-free diet is to make an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician who is familiar with a gluten-free diet.

 

Alternatively, you could also consult an online health coach who can get you started.

 

It’s completely possible to follow a gluten-free diet on your own, but, for some, it is easier to have step-by-step guidance.

 

According to GFJules.com, here are the first four steps you should take to remove gluten from your life:

 

 

  1. Clean Out and Reorganize to Make Your Pantry Gluten-Free

 

 

Your first step in going gluten-free will be to take an inventory of your kitchen. Clean out your pantry, carefully read labels, and put any non-perishable items into a box to give away to a church or soup kitchen.

 

Ask friends or family if they would like some free food from your fridge or freezer. If you can’t find anyone interested, don’t feel guilty about throwing it away. It’s poison to your body, after all.

 

  1. Buy a New Toaster

 

 

Bread crumbs in a toaster are one of the most commonly overlooked sources of gluten, and they can be easily missed by someone who is new to a gluten-free diet.

 

Donate your old toaster to a friend, and buy a new one dedicated only to toasting gluten-free bread. This way, you won’t accidentally eat bits of gluten by mistake.

 

  1. Buy Your Own Separate Condiments

 

 

When you live in a household of more than one person, it’s easy to accidentally get bits of gluten in shared condiments because everybody is dipping their knives and spoons into mustard, mayo, relish, etc.

 

Buy your own separate condiments instead, and label them as yours. This way, you can avoid that.  

 

  1. Check Labels to Avoid Gluten

 

 

15 years ago, I was forced to memorize (and I have a lousy memory) all of the 50-odd names gluten hides under. I also had to buy most of my food online!

 

The “boom” in gluten-free labeling and popularity has helped myself and others tremendously because now products are simply labeled “gluten-free”.

 

So, check labels. Even if you think something wouldn’t have gluten or wheat in it, check anyway. Twizzlers and Pringles both have wheat, and I would never have suspected that until I read the labels!

 

Common Question 2: Do I have the time and energy to make a huge dietary change?

 

 

If you’re already juggling a job, children, pets, doctor’s appointments, etc. it can be overwhelming to even consider making a large dietary change. This is why it’s so important to take it one step at a time.

 

You don’t have to do everything all at once. Start with an inventory of your kitchen. Donate some food. Buy a few gluten-free products to replace your usual products.

 

Make the transition slowly.

 

Note: It is better for your body if you remove all traces of gluten from your diet at once because you’ll feel the positive results right away, but, if it’s too overwhelming, gradual is better than not at all.

 

Do what you can do, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

 

Eventually, the proof will be in the pudding. Once you experience the positive changes in your health from eating a gluten-free meal here and there, that, in of itself, will be all the motivation you need to keep at it!

 

Common Question 3: Isn’t a gluten-free diet complicated and confusing? 

 

 

If you’d asked me that back in 2002, I would have said “Yes!” It was horrible, but that’s because I didn’t have a doctor, a nutritionist, or any other type of guide to help me through the process.

 

Yes, my doctor told me I was intolerant to gluten, but he just kind of left me after that. I had to look up all of what I now know on the Internet, and there was a LOT of trial and error.

 

Now, no. Going gluten-free is not complicated or confusing. With clear labeling, restaurants with gluten-free food, gluten-free apps, and thousands of articles written on the subject, going gluten-free is easier than ever!

 

Common Question 4: Isn’t gluten-free food disgusting?

 

 

No! Gluten-free foods are delicious!

 

In 2002, you had two flavor choices when it came to gluten-free food: Cardboard or wood. Now, it’s nothing like that. With so many companies developing gluten-free alternatives to the foods you regularly eat, the process has been practically perfected!

 

Tastes and textures are a bit different. Just like food containing gluten, you’ll find stuff you do like and stuff you don’t. It’s a matter of experimenting. Furthermore, it can be very rewarding to cook a gluten-free meal and have everyone raving about it, especially when they don’t know it’s gluten-free!

 

Common Question 5: How could I ever afford to eat a gluten-free diet? 

 

 

Think of all the money you’re spending right now to treat your chronic illness. The doctor’s visits, the prescriptions, the supplements, the lost days of work, the physical, mental, and emotional pain.

 

You can’t NOT afford to go on a gluten-free diet! It’s just a matter of funneling the money you’re already spending in a new direction.

 

Yes, a gluten-free diet can be more expensive, HOWEVER, there are plenty of foods that are naturally gluten-free that won’t cost you any more than you’re spending now.

 

For example:

 

  • Meat, poultry, fish
  • All fresh vegetables
  • All fresh spices
  • All fresh fruits
  • Brown rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Hummus
  • Beans and legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Flax
  • Millet
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Most dairy products

 

If you’re used to eating fast food or food from a vending machine, then it might be a bit more expensive, or at least seem that way, but if you keep a log of how much you spend, you’ll find it all balances out in the end.

 

Gluten-free pasta, bread, and baked goods are more expensive, yes, but they are worth every penny.

 

 

Also, you can find inexpensive gluten-free food at certain grocery stores and online. For example, Big Lots, Big Y (check their clearance section), Walmart, and Amazon.com.

 

Note: Amazon Prime is SO worth it because you won’t ever have to pay shipping no matter how small or large your order!

 

Stay tuned!

 

In part 3 of our 5-part series, we discuss how safe, fun, and socially acceptable gluten-free diets really are!


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About Author: Jaime A. Heidel

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