Gluten-free & Happy
This is second of 3 blog posts I wrote for Goodalls Ireland in February 2013. It focuses on tips for those starting out on a gluten-free diet and suffering from coeliac disease. Coeliac disease differs from food intolerances and allergies as it is an autoimmune disease. The tips below I found useful when learning to overcome the effects of food intolerances and being gluten sensitive.
Here are general tips I've used to deal with my food restrictions (no gluten/wheat/dairy/egg etc). You should find some helpful tips below to help you be Gluten-free and Happy.
Build a Habit of Always Reading Labels:
It’s important not to assume anything. Look what I did – all the way through 2011 I kept trying to eat sweet liqourice and not feeling well. Eventually in October I read the label – it’s mostly wheat flour! I ask you. Try not to ignore this Golden Rule, it’ll save you a lot of heartache and wasted days overcoming the effects of eating gluten.
Where to Buy:
In the main buy in stores you trust and where the staff are helpful and knowledgeable. This way if you’re in doubt about a product or it's ingredients they can steer you in right direction and offer solutions if your preferred product is not suitable.
There will always be friends/family celebrations or meetups, business events etc. Before you agree to attend ensure there will be suitable dishes for you to eat. If not suggest you bring along some or if they insist on making you something provide helpful tips on how to source ingredients or even provide a recipe or two. Above all make it easy to ensure you're invited again!
Places to Eat:
To get you started decide on 3 suitable places to eat:
- cafe for quick meetups and chats with friends and family or business
- place for dinner
- fancy place for celebrations.
These will keep you feeling normal as you search for more to add to your list. I found some of my old haunts refused to cater for all my food issues. You may find that too so don't despair you're only going to find far better places to eat. It takes a bit of trial and error but so worthwhile when you have your go-to-list.
Stack of Goodies:
To get started buy products you trust. Over time you’ll build up your own recipes for treats and can use these instead or as well as.
At Work: If you work then there are times when there is a birthday, wedding, engagement, or some other good news story that warrants the gluten-laden goodies to come out. Besides keeping a stock of goodies in your drawer for hunger pangs prepare ahead for the celebration. This will avoid you feeling left out, or worse become the centre of attention for avoiding the celebration cake. You could even suggest making the cake (when you have a gorgeous GF recipe) then you can enjoy it along with everyone else.
Travelling to Town or Around the Country:
Always have a stack of goodies and bottled water with you at all times. I always try to keep some snack bars or a mix of nuts, seeds and dried apricots in the car glove compartment. These are your backup if you get stuck at mealtimes and there is nothing suitable for you to eat and you are out and about.
Invest in a freezer box for longer journeys around the country. I find mine invaluable when travelling to Waterford as I stock it up with my lunch, chocolate bars, treats etc which are all kept fresh until I land or want to snack on during the journey.
Restaurant / Hotel bookings:
Always check beforehand and ensure they cater for gluten-free. Nowadays most places have gluten-free options already on their menus. No harm though to check and ensure you like what's on offer. By giving them enough notice most are very wiling to amend any of their dishes to suit you, where possible. If you get hassle just bring your custom elsewhere, there is plenty of choice in Ireland now. Remember 'Be Nice' staff are more willing to help you if you are approachable and helpful. If you're going abroad contact the coeliac society in that country to find suitable places to eat. MEDICAL DISCLAIMER
All recipes, tips and other material, unless otherwise stated, on this website / blog and my other social media outlets are my own.