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Problems Maintaining A gluten-free Diet With A Busy Schedule
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Hi, I'm new here.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when I was really young (<4) and I was raised on the gluten-free diet. But once I hit college I no longer had time or money to cook. I started "cheating" on my diet only when I was in a real hurry and it's progressively gotten worse. I'm basically no longer gluten free anymore. I've started having issues concentrating, I've had some lupus flairs, I've had some episodes of depression... Basically I just feel kind of cr*ppy. Which is to be expected since I've been eating gluten for the six months.

I work almost full time and I'm a full time student, and like any college student, I'm basically broke all the time. I've got to get back to being gluten free because I really just can't go on like this, but it's difficult with a crazy schedule and a low budget. I also live in a super small town (<5,000 people) so I don't have a lot of affordable options as far as food shopping or restaurants go. And I'm not gonna lie... I'm kind of a fan of junk food... I'm just wondering if any of y'all have tips on how to make it work?

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Can you batch cook stews and soups at the weekend and either keep them in the fridge or the freezer for use during the week. You can even pre-cook rice and potatoes to some extent too. You could then heat some soup or a casserole to take with you in an insulated flask for lunch. They will also give you a quick dinner and even breakfast too.

Can you find a safe "junk food" treat for yourself to have so that you don't feel quite so deprived?

PS Welcome to the board! You are handling a heavy work load, and it is essential for you too look after your health. Best wishes.

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junk food: cheetos, fritos, potato chips, peanuts, peanut butter and jelly on rice cakes (I also love lunch meat or sliced chicken breast with mayo on rice cakes), ice cream (most are gluten free), mcdonalds french fries (there are other fast food restaurants that cook their french fries separately so do your homework on that)

yogurt, fruit, cut up veggies (celery sticks, baby carrots, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli), nature valley has gluten free snack bars, nuts, cheese

2 corn tortillas are great with cheese in the middle and either cooked in a skillet with a cooking spray or even directly on the flame and crisped a bit or you can make so many different kinds of tacos or tostadas, cereal such as rice or corn chex is awesome! even without milk you can take some in a baggie in your purse to have a handy snack

if you can't find gluten free pasta, then if you can find corn meal you can make polenta which is very versatile if you like italian food. Many possibilities with polenta. Also, baked potatoes with all kinds of toppings. You can just stick them in the oven when you are studying. The microwave makes a decent baked potato, too.

I got lots more, this is just off the top of my head. Hopefully this will help you come up with ideas with foods that you like.

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In grad school, I pretty much lived on rice, potatoes, homemade bean or lentil soups (start with canned if you don't have time to use dried beans), cheese, yogurt, and whatever seasonal fruit and vegetables were on sale. You can make a big pot of nourishing vegetarian split pea soup with rice for only a few dollars and rice/legumes makes a complete protein. I couldn't afford convenience food or specialty gluten-free food and as you know, junk food is no good when you're struggling to regain your health. Every now and then I'd find meat cheap, like whole chickens on sale or pot roast (cook in a crockpot). I watched for lunch meat on sale and around holidays you can often get a whole ham for very little money that you can cook and freeze in single servings. I freeze leftovers all the time to take to work for lunch or have an easy night when I don't feel like cooking.

I rely heavily on my rice cooker with a timer and my crockpot for cooking. You can set up all your food in the crockpot liner in the evening and put it in the fridge. Put it in the crockpot in the morning, turn it on low, and come home to a nice, warm dinner with plenty of leftovers for the next couple days or to freeze. This site has a ton of crockpot recipes, many gluten-free. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

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Hi, I'm new here.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when I was really young (<4) and I was raised on the gluten-free diet. But once I hit college I no longer had time or money to cook. I started "cheating" on my diet only when I was in a real hurry and it's progressively gotten worse. I'm basically no longer gluten free anymore. I've started having issues concentrating, I've had some lupus flairs, I've had some episodes of depression... Basically I just feel kind of cr*ppy. Which is to be expected since I've been eating gluten for the six months.

I work almost full time and I'm a full time student, and like any college student, I'm basically broke all the time. I've got to get back to being gluten free because I really just can't go on like this, but it's difficult with a crazy schedule and a low budget. I also live in a super small town (<5,000 people) so I don't have a lot of affordable options as far as food shopping or restaurants go. And I'm not gonna lie... I'm kind of a fan of junk food... I'm just wondering if any of y'all have tips on how to make it work?

I totally understand this. I only found out I had Celiac in August after suffering through college living for 3 years i.e: Ramen, easy mac, pizza. All the deathly gluten-full foods we can't eat. If you live on campus or are ever on-campus for meals, you should look into having some sort of option made for you. I will often get chicken in a stew cooked separately for me. I have the same problem when it comes to wanting junk food. I've become a huge label reader for everything I used to eat and try to supplement what I can. Potato Chips like Lays and Cape Cod are gluten free as well as Snyders makes a gluten-free pretzel. When it comes to cooking for yourself, make a big batch of pasta that you can heat up later. The most money I ever spend is on bread cause grilled cheese is so quick and easy. Glutino makes some of the best "junk food" from gluten free Oreos to pretzels to chocolate wafers. Also Chick-fil-a is one of my go-to fast food places if you have one in your area. They bread everything in house and will grill you chicken nuggets. Also if you have a local grocery store like Food Lion or Harris Teeter, get a rewards card and use the coupons and sales to buy stuff that's gluten free or things you really enjoy at a lower price. Good Luck!

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I made it through high school and college (I dropped out) eating lots of trail mix that I made up myself. Assorted nuts and seeds, maybe some coconut, dried fruit and if I was in the mood for it, chocolate or carob chips. You could also put in some kind of small candy bits for the junk food factor. If you have a bag of that stuff in your purse, there is no need to be buying food or eating anything else. That will work as a meal or a snack.

You can make up for whatever other nutrients you are lacking when you get home. Make a big pot of soup, chili, stew, beans, whatever you can afford and eat it throughout the week.

Boil a dozen eggs at a time. Mark them so that you know they are boiled. You can put a mark on them with a pen or wait until after Easter and get some egg dye marked down for cheap. I used to use just a tiny bit of the dye for each dozen. They don't have to look like Easter eggs. They just need enough tint so that you won't mistake them for raw eggs. Add some cheap form of carbs like a rice cake, pan popped popcorn or an apple and you have breakfast. For my daughter I always keep leftover popcorn and rice. She eats these things for breakfast.

Can you afford Lara bars? Those are another thing my daughter likes and they can sub for a meal.

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If you guys think it is difficult maintaining a Gluten Free diet, can you imagine how hard it is in the UK? We seem to have only just discovered this problem and are only allocating very small areas in our supermarkets to this type of food. My son is at Cambridge University and I am at the moment cooking him lots of gluten free meals to take back with him so he can maintain this life-style. Have a word with your mum and see if she could do the same for you? He is awaiting a DH diagnosis and is suffering terribly with his skin rashes. There is a huge market for help in this area and I hope the UK react quickly.

By the way thanks for such a useful website!

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    • Another link: http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/7351/PDF
    • Thanks for posting.  I know it is difficult to talk about these sorts of things even on a webforum.  It is good thing for people to be aware though about celiac disease and that it can cause mental problems.  Gluten can cause brain damage and it can cause anxiety. If the brain does heal it may take a long time. I know that gluten can cause anxiety and obsessive thoughts.  My experience has been similar to your experience. When I first quit eating gluten I had a similar constant loop and strong negative feelings. There are lots of people on this forum who get anxiety when they eat gluten. Some people also experience gluten withdrawl where they experience anxiety after giving up gluten. It can take a long time for the body to heal and for obsessive thoughts to go away.
       It is normal for people to socialize with each other and to be comfortable about it. You said you have problems still socializing and being around people. It might be a depressing thought but it sounds to me like you still have problems with anxiety.  I would recommend considering what options you have available to treat the anxiety. When I quit eating Gluten I still had some symptoms, even though I felt much better. I have been slowly recovering over a period of about three years. I had obsessive thoughts even after I quit eating gluten.  Now I very rarely if at all think about those things. My experience is that my mind would latch on to certain things that caused me anxiety and focus on those things. Sometimes my focus would shift and I would latch onto other things. My ability to socialize has also improved greatly with time. I have made some dietary changes which I believe have helped greatly. It sounds to me like you have obsessive thoughts about things and maybe some brain damage. My experience has been that my obsessive thoughts about different things went away with time. I feel my obsessive thoughts were caused by gluten and not by what people did around me or any events. As my brain healed I became more self aware and things became less stressful.  I can't give medical advice on this forum but I can talk about my current diet and my experience with celiac disease. My experience with gluten is different from a lot of other people so it is a good idea to ask other people and to talk to a doctor.  I avoid oats and avoid almost all processed foods. I buy certified gluten free food. I eat healthy and I exercise every day. I take st John's Wort as I have read studies that say it may be as effective as some other anti-depressants for treating certain types of anxiety. It is available over the counter. I started with a small dosage and then stepped it up over time. I think it helps a lot.  This is also something that you should talk to a doctor about first. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Martin_Mahoney2/publication/7426926_St._John's_wort/links/540d8acc0cf2f2b29a386673.pdf A lot of people with celiac disease have vitamin deficiencies.  Vitamin b deficiency can cause anxiety. Some people do not process the synthetic form of vitamin b (from normal pills)  very well, and do better on an activated form of vitamin b. I take:
      1 activated vitamin b12 daily
      1 activated vitamin b6 every once in a while. 1 regular vitamin b multivitamin
      1 magnesium pill every day.
      St Johns Wort daily.
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      I drink lots of Chamomile tea and decaf coffee. I avoid most caffeine. 
      I think each of these helps lower my anxiety level.  I eat fruit with every meal. Canned fruit from walmart is cheap and good for you. I eat salad and and vegetables and avoid dairy.  I eat frozen fish often as it has healthy proteins. Eating healthy is very important. I eat potatoes and rice. http://www.livestrong.com/article/454179-what-is-methyl-b12/ I avoid eating soy sauce, soy, cheese, aged meats and fermented foods (I do drink certain types of alcohol in moderate amounts.) These foods contain lots of Tyramine. I might (or might not) have "monoaine oxidase deficiency" and if so high Tyramine foods should be avoided.  I thought I might have problems with elevated ammonia in my blood, but I am not convinced of that anymore. I limited my consumption of meat for a while as well as dairy but I am not sure if i helped.  I have heard that Celiac disease can effect other organs besides the brain and those organs can have an effect on the brain.  My current diet is working so I am going to stick with it for now. I try not to worry about things that are outside of my control. Be patient as it took me a long time to recover.  Let me know if you have any questions. There is a lot of information on this site and people who are willing to help.
       
    • Thank you. This is really helpful. I will call around next week.  I just want to heal! 
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