Gluten Free Life Hacks for any Diet

Gluten free life hacks bread with peanutbutter

Aaaaand I’m back with more exciting insights into the gluten free lifestyle. Following the gluten free diet can be difficult at times, but also rewarding. Those who have Celiac disease often get diagnosed because they experience stomach aches, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, or delayed puberty. Did you know going on this diet may also help alleviate skin rashes or dandruff? True story. There are gluten free cosmetics though!

Here are some life hacks that have helped me following this diet. They can also act as a guide for anyone who’d like to experiment with a gluten free or lower gluten lifestyle.

I discovered that many foods secretly contain gluten in them.

When buying a food item at the grocery store, for example chips, if the label says “contains no wheat,” do not let your guard down and place the chips in the shopping cart. I repeat: do not buy them just yet. This is where companies play a little game with you called “will the shopper notice?” Check the ingredients because rye, barley, or malt powder could still be listed, which would mean that the product is off limits.

The moment I found out I had Celiac disease, I researched foods that contained gluten in them to see how extensive or limited my diet would have to become. To my surprise, I discovered that many foods secretly contain gluten in them, landing them on the “no” list:

Some sweets: licorice, certain brands of gum, and the really good Ghirardelli truffles 🙁
Cured meat like salami, some hot dog brands
Condiments like soy sauce, malt vinegar, gravy, pickles
Seitan (meat substitute)
Couscous… the list goes on! There is a pretty all encompassing list here.

Depending on the severity of your diet, if there is no form of gluten whatsoever found in the list of ingredients, there’s another catch. I know, ugh! Check to see if the product has been manufactured in a facility that processes wheat. This has happened to me countless times. Sigh.

When going on the gluten free diet, the most frequent concerns that arise are with bread. Bread is a staple carb and pretty much everyone is a hard-core bread lover. Shout out to pretzel bread! The hardest gluten free (GF) food item to perfect is bread. It often comes out dry, crumbles, and has a weird aftertaste. From personal experience, and taste testing, I think Udi’s does the best job in recreating bread for the gluten free dieters. You can barely even tell the difference when it’s toasted!

Something that may not have crossed your mind is cross contamination. My family has two toasters, one only for gluten free food, and the other for everything else. If someone were to stick a knife in a peanut butter jar, spread it on a non GF bagel, and place the knife back in, the jar is now contaminated and it would be best for someone on the GF diet to not use it.

Here’s how this cross contamination went down: Let’s face it, bagels can be crumbly. Crumbles stick to the knife, they go in the jar, some escape and now live in the jar and have non GF crumb babies. Luckily, crumb babies are a figment of my imagination (although they would be cute), but even crumbs can affect someone who has Celiac disease, depending on the severity of the case.

Remember, we are humans. So it’s only natural to make mistakes.

Remember, we are humans. So it’s only natural to make mistakes. Whether it be that you have Celiac disease, or are trying out the GF diet for other reasons, one setback doesn’t mean complete failure. A couple weeks ago I went to a summer pool party. One of the foods that made an appearance was gazpacho (chilled tomato soup, delish). I lit up with excitement because I previously had this amazing soup in Spain and a couple times homemade by my dad.

I assumed (first mistake) that this soup would therefore be naturally gluten-free, since all the times I had it, there was no red caution flag waving around telling me that bread was an ingredient. I filled up an entire bowl with gazpacho and commenced to eating it. While slurping away happily, something soft and mushy, having bread-like qualities entered my mouth. Eh, I dismissed it as avocado (second mistake). Before I knew it, all gone.

So, I got up for more, and then someone told me that there’s bread in the soup. Did I get all panicky? Ya, a little bit. But I couldn’t change the fact that I ingested something that had a spot on the “forbidden to eat” list. What I didn’t do was say “what the heck”, throw my hands in the air in defeat, and eat that cookie I was eyeing earlier. I took a slight step back, but the way to move is forward.

One slight hiccup in the expanse of things will not entirely ruin what I have worked towards- a healthy gluten-free lifestyle. Not everything will work out 100% of the time. Just laugh it off and move on. Don’t trod on that one error. Boom! Mind blown, right? I feel like a parent cheering on her child as she releases the bike for the first time. Woo. You can do it! I believe in you. But really, I do.   You can conquer this eating lifestyle!