Newly Gluten Free: How to Evict Gluten in 5 Easy Steps
Written by intern Melissa Clem. Melissa is a senior nutrition student at the University of Alabama and leader of the campus’ gluten revolution!
Just last year, after being able to exhale after finals, I visited (yet another) doctor about my tummy troubles. After years of blow-off diagnoses, thoughtless advice, and dead end testing, I finally got the answer to all my woes – I had Celiac Disease. As a nutrition student, I knew the implications of the condition, but it didn’t really sink in until I returned to school for the spring semester.
I lived at home with my parents over the holiday break, where I enjoyed fresh, hot meals, few worries, and hardly any problems with my new gluten-free diet. However, when I returned to campus, I realized I had a few more changes to make than I had anticipated. The Ramen, macaroni and cheese, and whole wheat bread no longer seemed like the incredible, budget- friendly meals they had once been. Now, all that stared back at me from inside my cabinet was poison. I knew I had to de-gluten my apartment.
I started by donating my gluten-filled foods to my roommate and separating our food to reduce contamination. It took me a while to recognize the hidden opportunities for gluten getting in my food – the double-dipped peanut butter jar, the shared toaster, the sandwich-bread-hands reaching into my bag of chips.
(Toaster photo by dullhunk on Flickr)
My next step was to decide what it was I could and could not do without. Ramen and Chef Boyardee were not very hard to give up, but cookies?! Bread?! Pizza?! Something had to be done.
At this point in my life, I had never tried any kind of gluten-free alternative to the foods I loved. And as a carboholic, I was pretty skeptical. I perused a couple of the local grocery stores and found a surprisingly wide variety of gluten-free foods without having to go to a specialty store. I came home with cereals, breads, cookies, crackers, and chips, all safe for me to eat. And in the name of research, I held a feast.
Of all the products I “tested” (does anyone else find it ironic that “tested” is only one letter away from “tasted?”), I found Udi’s Gluten Free foods to be the most versatile, delicious, and the best competition to their glutenous counterparts. My favorites are definitely Udi’s Whole Grain Bread Loaf, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Pizza Crusts.
Now that I have the cooperation and understanding of my roommate, as well as the incredible creations from Udi’s, living gluten free is much easier than I could have ever imagined. So if you need to send gluten packing, just follow these easy steps:
1. Purge your pantry! Keep only the foods that are naturally gluten free, GF certified, or have explicit allergen information provided by the manufacturer.
2. Analyze your appliances! Make sure the appliances you use are not being shared by a gluten-tolerant roommate. If they are, make sure to clean them thoroughly between uses, don’t let your food physically touch the appliance, or consider getting dedicated gluten-free gear.
3. Ditch the double-dipped! Any communal products, like nut butters, margarine, or preserves, should be strictly single-dip only. For more peace of mind, buy duplicate products for your gluten-free diet.
4. Get new grub! Stock up on gluten-free products, like the ones from Udi’s, so you can continue to enjoy your favorite foods.
5. Rock some recipes! Being gluten-free doesn’t have to mean being bland. Check out Udi’s Gluten Free Recipes for some awesome ideas!
Now that you’re gluten free, what has been the biggest challenge or change in your lifestyle? How did you adjust?