At Gluten-Free Jet Set, we talk about nothing but gluten-free journeys, whether they’re in your own backyard or around the world. Never before, though, have I detailed my own personal gluten-free journey. That’s why I couldn’t be more thrilled that Udi’s Gluten Free has asked me to share my gluten-free story! Read on to learn why I went gluten-free and pick up my five tips for navigating a gluten-free lifestyle successfully.
My gluten-free journey started the way many people’s does: not feeling great but not really knowing that it was possible to feel a lot better. Stomach aches, brain fog, and general fatigue were constant for me as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, all of this just seemed normal, instead of a problem that could be addressed.
In my late twenties, however, a switch flipped. Immediately after eating foods like pasta, pastries, and cereal, I felt intensely terrible. For a food lover who had just begun to cook delicious meals alongside a particularly handsome man, this was unacceptable. Something had to change.
Because wheat seemed like the most likely culprit, I explored a gluten-free diet. With the support of that handsome man (now husband!), I started to eliminate gluten-containing foods from my kitchen. Rice pasta replaced whole wheat pasta, quinoa replaced couscous, and yogurt replaced cereal. It wasn’t easy at first, and avoiding the much-loved local bakery was not fun.
I felt better within weeks, though. I no longer suffered from a stomach ache after ever meal, and I had much more energy. I felt so great, in fact, that I decided to stay on a gluten-free diet—for the most part. When cooking at home, eating gluten-free was easy. Dining out or traveling, however, was a different story. I knew I felt better without eating gluten, but would a bite of pizza or a donut here or there hurt?
The answer was yes. After two years of eating a mostly gluten-free diet, my symptoms started to reappear. Within six months of starting a serious conversation with my primary care physician, I received a celiac disease diagnosis. Knowing that I needed to stick to a 100% gluten-free diet or seriously compromise my health was exactly what I needed.
After five years of eating gluten-free, I know from firsthand experience that the learning curve can be steep. It’s especially tough when you don’t have total control over what you’re eating, which can happen when you dine out or travel. With a little research, persistence, and experience, though, it’s possible to eat gluten-free anywhere around the world. This is the main reason I launched Gluten-Free Jet Set: to encourage, inspire, and help other gluten-free eaters to travel safely and confidently.
Here are five tips for leading a successful gluten-free life:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions When eating food made by family, friends, or a restaurant—in other words, food that you didn’t make yourself—always ask questions. What are the ingredients? Were clean utensils or equipment used? If it’s a restaurant, was a separate food preparation space used? If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to politely decline.
- Always Pack Snacks Most of us are on the go at all times, whether we’re working, caring for family, or traveling. You never know what food options you’ll find on the go (see above), and going hungry is never fun. Do yourself a favor, and always pack a favorite snack or two for emergency situations. Udi’s Gluten Free granola bars are perfect for these situations!
- Learn to Read Labels Buying prepackaged foods with Gluten-Free Certified labels is great and makes shopping easy. Not every safe, healthy food bears one of these labels, though. Familiarize yourself with hidden gluten-containing ingredients, learn to look for allergen warnings, and always keep an eye out for statements about foods made on shared equipment.
- Put a Positive Spin on It Having food restrictions can be a downer, but a gluten-free lifestyle can be pretty awesome, if you look at it the right way. If you have supportive family and friends, more often than not, you’ll get to decide what’s for dinner or pick the restaurant that will work for your gluten-free needs. When traveling, you can seek out delicious local foods and visit gluten-free bakeries that cater to you!
- Don’t Let Your Food Get in the Way Food is a huge part of our lives, and worrying about what to eat can really get in the way of living your life. Don’t let a gluten-free diet stop you from doing what you love (unless you love eating wheat, barley, or rye!) and experiencing the rest of the world. Gluten-free awareness is increasing globally, and nearly anywhere you are, you’ll be able to find something safe to eat.
Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.