Gluten free tips for kids and adults!

I am currently working on a series about going gluten free. I have been gluten free for a little over a year now, and I feel great! My iron levels are normal for the first time EVER. I am pregnant, so that is saying a lot. I had incredibly low iron with my other two pregnancies. If you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eating gluten can cause you to not absorb nutrients, like iron. I won't get scientific, but there are lots of other sites with more specific info on the science of it. I am not here to talk about the evils of wheat, but I will give you some tips and tricks that have worked for me! My son seems to do better without wheat as well. The best way to see if you have a gluten issue is to cut it out completely, tests are not always accurate. Give it at least two weeks, a month is better, and see how you feel! I will be posting soon about how to start eating gluten free and what to look out for, until then, here are a few tips!

The best tip that I can give is that you do NOT have to go out and buy everything in the store that is labeled gluten free. A lot of people have asked me if eating gluten free is expensive, it doesn't have to be, but it would be if you did this. The best thing you can do is just eat the foods that you love that are naturally gluten free. If you love pretzels, buy some gluten free pretzels, but only replace what you have to and skip what you don't. I have found that I don't "need" bread. I could buy some $6 gluten free bread, but I don't miss it enough to spend that kind of money. You can always make your own MUCH cheaper.

There are ways to get fiber that do not involve "whole wheat." You have probably heard of these things called fruits and veggies, they are full of fiber. I know this sounds really snarky, but you have no idea how many people have told me that I must not get any fiber without my fortified whole wheat. Poor me. I could tell you how much better my digestive system is now without the wheat, but that's kind of gross. If you really don't think you are getting enough fiber, try some
psyllium husk or hemp protein.

My kids love fruit, fruit is healthy and relatively cheap. Fruit is a much more filling snack than crackers or candy, so you can eat less and feel more full. Apples, grapes, and bananas are easy quick snacks that I always try to keep on hand. Veggies like carrots or celery are easy and kid-friendly too.

Skip the gluten free aisle/section or only shop there sparingly. Everything in this area will be really marked up and rarely go on sale. There are usually rice crackers in the Asian section that are much cheaper. Actually, there are a lot of snacks in the Asian section that are gluten free, just read your labels! You can find gluten free coupons from time to time, and Amazon is really great for gluten free products or flours in bulk. I buy Glutino pretzels and Annie's gluten free snacks on Amazon.

READ YOUR LABELS. I said it already, but it's important. There is wheat in EVERYTHING. Not to get all conspiracy theorist on you, but I have read that companies put wheat into everything because it is an appetite stimulator and will make you buy/eat more. It makes sense, but I am not going to get into that here. For whatever reason, wheat is in everything and lots of times you wouldn't expect it. Soy sauce, ketchup, basically any boxed food, etc etc. Depending on the brand, they may or may not have wheat/gluten. Oh, and twizzlers. Sadly, twizzlers have wheat in them. I found that out the hard way, so you're welcome. One brand of chicken broth has gluten in their ORGANIC version. I prefer organic, but not with this brand! Our store brand of organic chicken broth is gluten free, so you really never know. You have to read labels. Reading labels is probably the most important part of being gluten free.

Better yet.. buy food that doesn't have labels. You have probably heard to only shop around the perimeter of the store for healthy food. Healthy real food probably won't have any gluten in it. The more processed that a food is, the more likely that it will have wheat in it. Extra bonus, when you eat REAL food, you aren't as hungry. It's true. If you make most of your own food, you will know exactly what goes into it. Being busy or being a terrible cook is no excuse, the slow cooker is the best invention ever. 

Speaking of making your own food, non-wheat flours can be expensive. One of the best places to buy these flours is Amazon, because you can buy in bulk and get a discount. You can also try bulk bins at grocery or health food stores, just be careful for gluten contamination. I like rice flour. I also use tapioca starch instead of corn starch (because of GMO corn.) I have used almost and coconut "flours" with mixed results. Although they are not actually flours, they are extremely healthy. I prefer rice flour when I am trying to substitute for something that is traditionally made with wheat flour. There are plenty of gluten free flour mixes out there, but I have had success using rice flour and a small amount tapioca starch to replace wheat flour.

Our favorite quick and easy gluten free snacks:
Apples, Bananas, Grapes
Blueberries, Strawberries
Baby carrots
Lunch meat/cheese roll ups
(and as for the boxed snacks..)
Annie's fruit snacks
Annie's gluten free chocolate/vanilla bunnies
Glutino pretzels
Van's cheese crackers
Glutino fruit bars
Van's gluten free granola bars

There are plenty of other snacks that we like, but these are the quick ones that don't have to be prepared! Going gluten free can be a difficult transition, but for me, it has been worthwhile. I know that it isn't for everyone, but if you eating gluten free or trying to, hopefully these tips can help you a little!

Despite all of my comments, this post really isn't trying to tell anyone not to eat wheat. If you are curious, this is a good article about grains (particularly gluten) and why they aren't necessary. I do eat rice myself because I have found that I have no reaction to it. I also recommend the book Wheat Belly. It is very informative and far more scientific that I could ever be.
You should always talk to your doctor before changing anything and blah blah blah. I am not a doctor, or a dietician. This is what worked for me. Some people think that I am just crazy. Am I? Maybe a little. You know what I'm not? Sick. And not being sick all the time is pretty freaking awesome. So if you are having any kind of issue that can't otherwise be explained, try cutting out gluten. The worst that can happen is that it doesn't help.



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