Thinking about going gluten free? Me too! Today's blog is a guest blog written by one of my friends, Melissa. She is a diagnosed Celiac and has been gluten free for years. I asked her to submit a blog to me because of my new adventures in going gluten free myself. While I am not a diagnosed Celiac, I am diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's) and have been reading that gluten can affect autoimmune diseases and make the side effects much worse. Based on that, I'm on a new journey to go gluten free, because I am sick of having crazy body aches and pain, brain fogginess, muscle weakness, fatigue, and all sort of things that go along with having Hashimoto's disease.
Now, onto Melissa's guest blog!
Congratulations! You are living a Gluten Free Life, either due to Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance. Life, as you know it, will never be the same.
You know those teensy-tiny printed ingredient list on the back of, pretty much everything. Hopefully you have found a master class in reading them, because for the rest of your life you will be reading the ingredient list on EVERYTHING you buy, including shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, food, etc.
You will also be a bit like this when ordering your food:
Ok, not really, but the most important thing you can do when dining out is ask a LOT of questions. Be annoying; make sure your food is safe. Just, make sure you leave a nice tip as well, since they wait staff (and oftentimes the kitchen staff) were so patient with you.
If you are thinking that the gluten free diet is a great weight loss diet, because you saw one celebrity or another promoting it as such, well, here’s the thing. The basics of the diet: meat, veggies, rice, quinoa, and fruit – you know, the stuff you can get out of nature – those can all help with the weight loss. But those things that you crave, those things that you miss? You know, bread, cake, pasta, muffins, cookies, etc? Yeah, not so much. To make these things taste almost as good as their gluten-filled brethren, bakers perform a type of alchemy where they are combining all of these alternate flours in an attempt to give their treat that light, fluffy, yummy taste we grew up with, and those flours have a lot more sugar in them and a lot less of the nutrients that your body needs.
Here is the best news I can give you. If you are a Celiac, you have the ONLY autoimmune disorder where the symptoms can be controlled 100% by what you eat. No drugs, no muss, a bit of fuss in the food prep. And while some days are more challenging than others, and some days you may be faced with more temptation than others, how you decide to approach each day is equally important. While it can be easy to drop into the, “woe is me, I’m so deprived” thinking, it is more fun and you help spread the word if you look at each new interaction as a way to educate others.
So, without much further ado, here are 10 things that I have found made rocking the GF life that much easier.
1) Find Me Gluten Free app. This FREE app is crowd sourced, so it does not have every gluten free menu in the country on it, but it sure does have a lot! A great tool to have when traveling, as it helps to point you in directions you may not have considered. As always, it is always a good idea to talk with the wait staff/management/kitchen staff before you order, but this helps you find places that are a bit more accommodating. As an added bonus, they are also in the process of beta testing a recipe and product scanner function.
2) Red Apple Lipstick. This one is aimed for the women out there (sorry guys). One thing I never realized until someone pointed it out to me is how often I lick my lips. Every time I lick my lips, I ingest a bit of what is on them. And I did not know if my lipstick was safe. A couple years ago, I discovered these guys. These lipsticks/lip glosses/eye shadows are all gluten free, paraben free, soy free, dairy free, natural, and not tested on animals. Added bonus – the colors are GORGEOUS!
3) Enjoy Life Foods. If you are looking for a verified non-GMO product that is also free of the top 8 allergens, you have it when you find this brand. Chocolate chips, Plentils, Granola, and the new Decadent Bars (I love the Cherry Cobbler) are just some of the products this company makes. As an added bonus, they are Chicago local, with their production facilities located in Schiller Park.
4) New Planet Beer. For many of my friends, especially the men (see, I didn’t forget about you), one of the hardest things was giving up beer. Of all the Gluten Free beers out there, almost everyone I talk to agrees that this is the best. I’m a fan of their Raspberry Ale and Blonde Ale. It is never going to taste 100% like the Millers or the Sam Adams, but it is a pretty tasty, safe on your body, beer.
5) Glutino. All I can say about this company is WOW! They are the masters of coming out with Gluten Free products that taste as good, if not better than the real thing. A friend purchased a pack of their chocolate sandwich cookies, took one bite and spit it out because she was positive she had bitten into an Oreo. The latest addition to their, “OMG, I have been craving this” line are toaster pastries. These unfrosted gems are the closest things I have yet to taste to a real, honest to goodness, Pop Tart.
6) Glutenfreeda. Oatmeal is one of those power foods the dieticians always tell you to eat. However, due to growth, transport, storage, prep, etc, the brand everyone associates with oatmeal is off limits. There are several Certified GF oat companies out here, but this is my favorite. The Cranberry Cinnamon is my favorite flavor. Yummy, nutritious, safe. What else can you ask for? A close second (maybe first if I could find them) is GF Harvest/Canyon Oats.
7) The Gluten Free Bar. If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume that you have an interest in fitness and getting in shape. Which probably means you have tried at least one of the dozens of protein bars out there. This made in West Michigan bar has 12-13 grams of protein, is vegan, dairy free, soy free in July, and pretty darn tasty. I have a bit of a love affair with the Chocolate Peanut Butter one. Check them out if you see them!
8) Schar. Sometimes you want a graham cracker. Or a roll. Or even a cracker. This company has been Europe’s #1 gluten free brand, and their experience shows in the quality of the products they produce. The lemon wafers have so much lemon flavor my non-GF step dad did not know they were GF!
9) Whole Foods / Trader Joes. These are my go to grocery stores. Whole Foods will take you through the store and help you find what is GF, and (I have heard) let you try it. It is a great way to see if you like something before shelling out your paycheck on a product you may not like. Trader Joes has a list of all the products that are Gluten Free at the customer service desk. This is a handy guide that has shown me things I may not have considered.
10) Magazines. Living Without. Delight. Simply Gluten Free. There are a ton of magazines out there that can help you out with recipes, product reviews, and tips on living the best GF life you can.
11) I know I said it would be 10. But 11 belongs to all the bloggers/tweeters/Facebook people out there who have created such a great community. It is finally finding your people that makes you realize you are not alone in this crazy life.
Thanks for the awesome tips, Melissa! I'm actually looking forward to this new journey towards using food to help my body combat my autoimmune disease!
If you want to read more from Melissa and get lots of more great tips, you can find her at GeekilyGF!
... and also be sure to check out the Chicago Now gluten free blog, Glady Gluten Free.
Tags: autoimmune disease, celica, delight magazine, enjoy life foods, find me gluten free, food allergies, geekilygf, gluten, Gluten Free, gluten intolerance, glutino, hashimoto's, living without magazine, new planet beer, red apple lipstick, schar, simply gluten free magazine, the gluten free bar, trader joes, whole foods