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Five tips for Cutting Back on Gluten in your Diet

By Paddy Sullivan on February 25, 2016

All About Health & Wellness

The hardest part about championing a change in your diet is breaking old habits. Whether you’re out socialising at a café with friends, or standing in front of your pantry on a Saturday afternoon feeling nibblish, it can be hard to know where to start with making a change.

Going gluten free can be one of the biggest mental hurdles to overcome. It means reducing your bread, pasta, pastries, cake, crackers, cereal, beer and oats intake right down to minimal or zero, which means undergoing both a mental paradigm shift in thinking and changing your day-to-day approach to eating and decision making.

The good news is that you’re not alone. Around the world, more and more adults and their families are turning to gluten free diets to help support their overall digestive health. At All About Health & Wellness we are here to support you on this journey to better health, which is why we have compiled this five-tip guide to gluten elimination for you and your family.

Here are our five top diet-changing tips:

Gluten Free Living - Bread

1. Find Support.

When going gluten free, it can be tough feeling like you’re missing out on the foods you and others love. We recommend asking for support from your families and friends in making the diet transition, because you will then feel less isolated by your diet.
You can make it easy for your friends and family to help you make good diet choices by keeping them informed. Let friends know of good gluten free recipes before you go around for dinner parties (Jamie Oliver is always a good go-to – check out his gluten free beef lasagne. Who said this had to be boring?), or recommend great local cafes that you know have a good range of gluten free options before you go out together for a family catch up.

We also recommend looking at online reviews to find local cafés that celebrate diversity of diets and provide good gluten free choices. We like Midnight Espresso, Beach Babylon and Flight Coffee Hangar in Wellington for these reasons.

Another way to find support at home is to involve your kids/partners in meal preparation and grocery shopping, and look to move to a low-gluten diet as a family unit. Substitute rice for pasta dishes, or use gluten-free alternatives, find tasty gluten free sauces to share and do the cooking together to get your wider family’s buy in and support.

All About Health and Wellness Gluten Free Salad

2. Eat before you go out and carry tasty gluten-free snacks with you

Impulse decisions are made on an empty stomach. If you’re going somewhere and you’re not sure if there will be gluten free options available to you, make sure you’ve eaten so you’re likely to be more willing to politely turn down any gluten-laden foods that might come your way.

Children’s birthday parties can be particularly bad for this (think sausage rolls and chocolate cake galore), but it’s a good habit to get into and will help you balance your diet in the long-run too.

Also use snacks strategically to help you manage hunger in between meals. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours so you don’t ever feel ravenous, and drink lots of water to keep on top of any cravings that might come as you transition to the new diet.

Gluten Free Lasagne

3. Find 3-4 Gluten Free meals you love, and get good at cooking them.

Instead of focusing on what is not good for you, focus on the foods you love and that you can eat. From chicken skewers with a yoghurt spice sauce on a Wednesday night, to a homemade blueberry compote with gluten free waffles for your Sunday lie-in, the choices for a gluten-zero can be endless.

Have fun getting inventive in the kitchen with a fantastic variety of gluten free cooking ingredients available at most good supermarkets (we like Common Sense Organics on Wakefield Street) and make sure to keep us posted with your new creations so we can share the word.


4. Limit Exposure

Organise your weekly grocery shops to fall after you’ve had a good meal and when your willpower is high. Conversely, avoid shopping when you’re tired or feeling emotional, to help put you in the best position to make good choices.

As a good rule of thumb, try shop around the edges of a supermarket, taking in a good amount of fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and fish, dairy (most gluten free options are labelled clearly these days, but always check on the back if you’re unsure) and eggs. Compliment with brown rice, beans, quinoa and nuts, and you’ve got a good staple diet ready to go.

Eventually you’ll be able to run on autopilot and shop without overthinking it, but when you’re starting out, watch out for gluten surprises. These can be hiding in flavourings, dressings, chocolates, and foods like pickles (for a list of 18 gluten surprises, see this blog here), or give Paddy a quick call if you have any questions about the right foods for you.

All of this preparation won in the supermarket means that when it comes time to look in the pantry, you’ll be well prepped to make good choices and make the most of the ingredients that are available to you. This approach works best when you are feeling tired after a long-day as it’s easy enough to keep on track because you don’t have to think twice about what’s okay for your body and what’s not.

Gluten Free Health

5. Focus on the benefits

According to the 21 day rule, It takes an average human being 21 days to break a habit. Getting through the first three weeks of your new regimen will be the hardest, but stay focused on the benefits!

Soon common symptoms like digestive upset, lethargy, foggy minds, depression, joint ache, bloating and headaches will ease, and you’ll feel fuller, stronger and healthier. Keep this in mind as you’re about to break down and refocus in on your health goals.

If you’d like to organise a time to meet with Nutrition and Allergy Specialist Paddy Sullivan at All About Health & Wellness’s Crofton Downs or Eastbourne Clinic, you can make an appointment here.

Make sure to let us know what your top tips are by emailing through to allabouthealth@xtra.co.nz or by engaging with us on Facebook.

You can also follow us on Facebook for more updates on living health and improving your road to wellness.

Healthy Regards to all,

Paddy & John, All About Health and Wellness.

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