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.

ToasterI 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?

26 Responses to “Newly Gluten Free: How to Evict Gluten in 5 Easy Steps”

  1. Raelyn says:

    I was diagnosed non-tropical sprue (celiac) 32 years ago. In those days a gluten free diet was really a challenge. The breads were bland and crubly, there were no cereals to speak of and basically it was spaghetti sauce over rice or something along those lines. Thank goodness for companies like Udi’s which have made the gluten free diet easier to live with fewer temptations to cheat!

  2. Pami G. says:

    When eating pasta or a soup without the ‘regular’ pasta and having the right kind of gluten free bread that won’t get overly soggy or taste like rice. Enjoying the products from Udi’s, very tasty and lots to choose from.

  3. Danika Stoltz says:

    I was diagnosed about 18 years ago but faced a challenge when I went to college because I played a varsity sport. I had to plan ahead when we went out of town. The team usually stopped after the games to eat and I had many salads at pizza and sub places. I had to take some of my own food to the team brunches before the games. And when I went abroad or on long field studies I had to plan ahead for a few weeks at a time.

  4. Flora says:

    The biggest challenge has been having my relative realize the seriousness of my gluten intolerance. Regardless of the countless reminders, they seem to always forget that I can’t eat wheat. To cope, I eat a light snack before going to any type of function.

  5. Jordan Clark says:

    I used to go to this small diner in my hometown all the time with my Dad and get breakfast foods.. can’t really do that anymore. That and trying to eat gluten free in the cafeteria at college have been the two biggest issues.

  6. Kathy M says:

    I’m dairy and gluten free, so the first few months were quite an adjustment. I have learned how to be prepared, especially when at work or traveling and don’t have access to healthy food I can eat. I’ve found a lot of great foods I can eat, so I focus on what I can enjoy!

  7. Sonia says:

    The biggest challenge is the lost of spontaneity. Not being able to eat anything anytime.

  8. Allison says:

    My biggest challenges have definitely been keeping up with our society’s food obsession! All holidays, events, birthdays, celebrations, etc revolve around food and it makes it so difficult for me.

  9. Kelly M. says:

    The biggest challenge in my life since going gluten free was just being able to stop at any fast food place when being out with friends. Had to adjust by making sure i always eat something small before going out in case the restaurant we stop at doesn’t have any gluten free options.

  10. Deb van pelt says:

    Hardest part is that I am a ‘silent celiac’ without symptoms at all…and trying not to cheat is a real challenge! I am lucky to have Libby my celiac sister who keeps me ‘honest’ If I was lucky enough to win a gift pack, I would share it with her for all of her help and guidance…I love you Libby!

  11. Sara R. says:

    Melissa, this was basically my life. for the longest time. When I first entered college it was like a switch had been flipped. I could no longer eat the foods I loved and would have severe pain after every meal. So many over the counter meds worked then after a few uses were completely ineffective. I finally was diagnosed with Celiac disease in August of 2011 just 2 weeks before I moved into college for my senior year. I have been struggling with my campus dining services to help me get a balanced diet and can barley afford to cook for myself. Udi’s has helped me through college thus far as it is completely offered now in my campus dining hall. Bread is once again safe, but being gluten free is just so complicated on a college budget.

  12. Andrea says:

    I’m newly diagnosed and worried about the upcoming holidays and how I will handle all the food I can no longer have. I saw Udi’s featured on The Talk and hopefully my grocery store will carry a variety of your products. That will make a world of difference. I live in Bismarck, ND and we don’t have many gluten free products here. Thanks for listing your favorite products!

  13. Stephanie D. says:

    My daughter and I are both new to the gluten-free diet. My husband can eat gluten, but he is doing the diet with us for support and his own health. The biggest challenge has been the realization that all our favorite restaurants that we thought would be fine for us have hidden gluten in almost every dish! We are adjusting by finding new favorite places to go when we have to eat out. We’ve found a few great places where we never would’ve gone before.

  14. Beth K says:

    I would have to say that the biggest challenge comes when traveling. I always try to plan ahead and bring some items with me, but for longer trips and especially when you are flying and cannot bring your pantry with you, it can be challenging to find healthy GF food choices on the go. Normally, I do not eat out much…so its not a huge problem in my day to day life, but when relying on restaurants during a vacation, it can be a tad difficult.

  15. Melissa Clem says:

    Lisa –
    I would love to speak with you and your daughter! Send me an email at msclem@crimson.ua.edu

    I look forward to meeting you guys!

  16. Dava N. says:

    Learning how to get every last bit of gluten out if my diet. Including things like modified food starch! It took me awhile to learn all the things that contain gluten and what did not.

  17. Kathy says:

    The biggest challenge/change in my life since going gluten-free is the limited choices I have to just grab something quick on the go, unless I just want soup and salad. Most things that are convenient are like sandwiches, muffins, pastries, pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, or fried coated in wheat flour batter.

  18. Allison says:

    The biggest challenge for me was finding out I was a Celiac in college. Not being able to go out and grab a slice a pizza with friends, or having to be careful if my boyfriend at the time had a beer at the bars. It took some time to get over the why am I different feeling, but feeling healthy was worth it. Unfortunately, I don’t have great advice for this feeling, it just takes time to adjust.

  19. tiff r says:

    The biggest challenge is breakfast and brunch with friends. Luckily that’s changed a lot with gf bagels and gf granola. I really love breakfast!

  20. Lisa says:

    Melissa, I would love to be able to get in touch with you. My 16 year old daughter and I are gluten free and we live just outside Tuscaloosa. She has not found any young people with similar dietary issues and I know it would be and incredible encouragement to at least talk to someone close to her age in our area that understands her challenges. Please let me know if that would be possible. Thank you.

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