If you have started a gluten free diet to manage serious health concerns, such as celiac disease, or simply to try a healthy lifestyle, then you know how difficult it is to stick to the program. Gluten-based products are so common to the American diet that it really takes planning and research to find alternatives.
But the payoff is so great, particularly if you suffer from celiac disease, that you should be encouraged to stick to the plan the rest of your life. If you've been on track but feel yourself slipping, here are 4 ways to stick with a gluten-free diet:
1. Refuse to Get Complacent
It's really easy to fall off the wagon by telling yourself "oh, just one (fill in the blank) won't hurt." But if you do suffer from celiac disease, even one crumb of the wrong type of food can cause an entire chain reaction of negative events in your body. If you are staying with a gluten-free diet for other reasons, falling off the wagon can actually put you on the wrong path permanently.
Refuse to get complacent. Stay excited and challenged about your eating plan. Find new and exciting ways to cook gluten-free by subscribing to a blog or checking out a new book. Your body will thank you.
2. Read the Labels
Even though you have researched every product in your cupboard, you will need to keep reading the labels every time you buy. Why? Food manufacturers change their ingredients all the time. The gluten-free breakfast cereal you enjoy may suddenly start using brown rice syrup, for example. Without reading the label, you could inadvertently consume gluten.
So while it feels like a chore, you need to continue to read the labels before you make a purchase. It can save a lot of trouble down the road.
3. Have Fun with It
Look on your dietary needs as an adventure, not a chore. Branch out from the ordinary and try new products. Substitute a new grain in your baking, or try a new GF product from your favorite manufacturer. The important thing is to always think of your gluten-free diet as something fun. If you dwell only on the fact that you don' get to have a Krispy Kreme donut, then you are bound to drive right over there on the way to work and grab one anyway, despite your diet.
Instead, thank your lucky stars that you have an excuse to avoid these overly-processed, fattening foods. Then indulge yourself with a piece of exquisite dark chocolate instead.
4. Plan Your Meals
You will need to spend some time planning your meals, so you aren't tempted to cheat. A simple meal-planning session will save a lot of time and worry, if you do it before you head to the grocery store for your weekly shopping. Keep a selection of GF snack foods at work, in your car, or in your kid's diaper bag when the urge to nosh strikes. If you know you are heading out to lunch with friends, try to research the menu options so you have a GF meal already planned out in your mind.
A little planning will go far in helping you stay on track with a gluten-free diet. The two main keys to maintaining a gluten-free diet are simple: it's you and your attitude. If you are putting your health needs first, you will continue to follow a GF diet even if it means more research and planning.