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Started gluten free diet yesterday. I have been reading up about what are safe and unsafe foods, but I am feeling very overwhelmed by the list. Any suggestions on how to start this up a little less painfully? I am reading labels and cross checking my unsafe list, but I can't deal with doing that every time I want to eat something. Should I go to a nutritionist? Would that be helpful?

Thanks,

Vicki

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Started gluten free diet yesterday. I have been reading up about what are safe and unsafe foods, but I am feeling very overwhelmed by the list. Any suggestions on how to start this up a little less painfully? I am reading labels and cross checking my unsafe list, but I can't deal with doing that every time I want to eat something. Should I go to a nutritionist? Would that be helpful?

Thanks,

Vicki

I found the easiest thing in the beginning was to just stick to things that I knew wouldn't be a problem. Meats, veggies, rice.. If I NEEDED some kind of snack, I made SURE it was labeled Gluten free. It's very overwhelming! Remember, we've all been there! It DOES get easier!

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Ditto the other poster, at first like you I tried to cross reference that huge list, but I wound up messing up.

Basically it was easiest and safest for me, to just eat everything labeled gluten free...and then of course veggies and meat (chicken can be packaged in chicken broth though so you have to check that).

Beware wheat free does NOT equal gluten free.

I still buy things labeled gluten free, and stray from that just occasionally.

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It is super overwhelming at first. There is so much to know and it all seems like so much work. The suggestion to stick with meats, veggies and fruits is a great one. I am also sure to keep a stash of safe snacks in my house so I don't cheat when I just need to grab something now. Cocoa or Fruity Pebbles cereal bars are gluten free and make great grab and go snacks. I keep some gummy fruit snacks in my Jeep. Snyder's makes some good gluten free pretzels and they are way cheaper than the other brands, although the Glutino chocolate covered ones are quite tasty.

Check your local grocery store for a gluten free or health food section where you may have luck finding some tasty snacks. I do a lot of shopping at a health food store that has a whole gluten free section. Even when things say gluten free on them, I always read the ingredients. Some things claim to be gluten free based on the principle that they only have a little gluten.

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Why are you starting the diet? Did you get diagnosed or you suspect you're intolerant?

If you're suspecting it, it might be better to go to a doctor first to get a diagnosis before going on the diet.. because doing the the diet first means you will have to eat gluten again to get positive diagnosis if you ever end up needing the doctor, which could be very troublesome for you.

First most important thing is to get your kitchen cleaned up from all gluten. It won't help to be on the diet if you keep getting yourself glutened through contamination.

As for the diet. It is always the hardest in the beginning because you're changing your eating habit. Basically the only thing that made it feel better for me was cooking really interesting meals that were filling, and contained some of my favorite ingredients. I don't need to read labels because I cook everything from scratch. It takes more time and work but it's worth it for the piece of mind and avoiding doubt.

I'm on a strict elimination diet right now so I'm basically banned from eating everything except greens, meat, and I just added citrus fruit a day ago. I ate charcoal grilled salmon with avocados for lunch, then clementines for desert. Really yummy. Yesterday I had chicken grilled with sweet pepper and a garlic/onion dressing. It was amazing with a salad. Be patient. I promise that after a week or so the new routine will start feeling more normal and less hard to live with.

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Why are you starting the diet? Did you get diagnosed or you suspect you're intolerant?

She's celiac.

I agree with what other people have said. Stick to easy foods. Fruits, vegetables, meat you cook yourself, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, plain nuts (not flavored or dry-roasted), dried or canned beans. You will find whole foods easier to digest than processed foods and you don't have to get all worried about finding gluten on labels. It's not hard to determine that a head of broccoli or a whole potato is gluten-free. :)

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Welcome to the World of Marking Everything with a Sharpie Pen !

Make a list or chart of what you tend to eat or like to eat at each meal, like this:

1. Breakfast

(example) cereal with milk, tea, fruit juice

2. Lunch

(example) sandwich, chips, beverage, or, salad, fruit, yogurt

2.b. snack

granola or cookie bar, peanut butter on something, etc

3. Dinner

(example) meat, vegetable, starch

Then you can think to yourself, what sort of staples do I need to keep on hand to make this happen, gluten free.

So your shopping list would look like this:

gluten free cereal

fresh oranges to replace boxed juice drink (altho the juice drink might be okay)

gluten free bread (can store in freezer)

gluten free corn tortillas if you can eat corn

rice cakes

sandwich protein staples, gluten free, such as safe lunchmeat, peanut butter, jelly, cheese, tuna, tofu if you do soy (a lot of us end up ditching soy flour and tofu)

condiments:

safe gluten free mayonnaise (Spectrum + Best Foods have gluten-free versions), ketchup (Heinz' is Kraft, and works, I have gotten cc'd by some supposedly safe specialty ketchups :angry: )

mustard (ditto, currently using a store brand mustard made with gluten-free ingredients that works, have reacted to so- called gluten free mustards)

pure apple cider vinegar- READ THE LABEL, use pure cider vinegar

pure olive oil

with the above condiments you can recreate almost any salad dressing or sandwich spread by mixing the ingredients, and they will be safe

~back to the list~

chips: use google to find gluten free corn + potato chip brands if you are into these.

yogurt- most yogurts are safe if you read the label, however, for the lactose sensitive amongst us, or those sensitive to additives, dry milk powders, thickeners, or antibiotic residue, yogurts are a minefield until you find "your brand" that works. I did not do yogurt for a very long time because of this.

fresh fruit and vegetables - gluten free

snack- in the beginning, you may want to stick with fruit or known labeled gluten free items like a Lara Bar. You can also mix up your own trail mix out of safe gluten-free nuts, chocolate chips, and raisins or craisins, or have peanut butter on a rice cake or hummus you've made on celery.

proteins:

Most plain raw meats are gluten free, just watch out for cross contamination issues and for what they tend to try to sneak into poultry

eggs are gluten free

Starches: rice, beans, potatoes, rice pastas

frozen gluten free pre made pizza shells can be found in health food stores & some better groceries

Fats: pure butter if you can do dairy. Coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, nuts, even lard is used by some for baking if they can't handle the dairy, olive oil

milk substitute: you may end up using a rice or nut milk if you have to go off of dairy milk for awhile. MANY types of these boxed gluten-free milk subs are available in many flavors. Another way to avoid lactose is to just thin yogurt out with water and use that on cereal, or mix half and half with a nut milk.

_______

Breads, gluten-free homemade: can start with a pre packaged mix.

Specialty needs: if you are one of those who cannot handle starchy grains at all in the beginning, you may end up making your own bread out of your own gluten free flours. You can grind nuts easily in a blender, and you can also grind things like seeds (example, buckwheat) in a coffee grinder. If you cannot handle a lot of carb you can still make a high protein gluten free bread. Baking in the microwave in small servings ("bun-in-a-cup") is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get fresh gluten free bread without a 2 hour time and effort commitment, and many different prepared flour mixes can be used, besides your own creations if you need to customize.

________

Minimum utensil replacement: new dedicated cutting board, your own toaster, colander(s), and dedicated cast iron pan if you use that, plus get rid of plastic or rubber spatulas and get your own clean storage tupperware or start saving those Cool Whip tubs. Highly recommended to use your own clean, new teflon, not the nasty old scratched stuff, and new bakeware if you cannot scrub the old down to clean.

If your potholders are not disgusting, WASH THEM because they've been brushing up against gluten if you bake. May as well get a new set if they're looking pitiful, anyway.

If you don't want to buy a rolling pin yet, use a glass turned on its side and roll things out between sheets of waxed paper. They do make ceramic rolling pins :)

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You've gotten good advice. I'll add: do not go to the grocery store hungry. It makes things worse.

Don't buy a million gluten-free substitutes (bread, pasta, etc) at first. Try a little bit at a time and find out what brands, alternative grains, etc you like. It'll save you money.

Keep in mind that your tastebuds will adapt and gluten-free substitutes that taste not-so great now will taste better to you later.

Budget plenty of time to shop. It takes a long time to read labels on everything. It'll get easier as you discover what you can have.

Try to shop when you're in a decent mood. I'd bet serious money that most of us on this board have had a partial to full breakdown at the grocery store at first. It gets better. I still stare longingly at Pop Tarts, but I don't tear up over them anymore.

Find a comfort food that makes you smile. Mine is Fritos. I've even eaten them with baked potatoes or inside tacos.

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Since I live in a rural area, shopping gluten free meant going to several stores as everyone had just a few different products. I was very very fortunate to find a fellow celiac close to my neighborhood who very kindly invited me to his house and showed me the stuff he bought, told me where to find it and even gave me some of the snacks to try first before spending money on stuff I might not like. So if there is a local celiac group in your area that can tell you where the best places are to shop etc, that might be worth looking into.

I still hate reading labels so I generally just cruise the produce section and buy only a few of my favorite packaged foods. and if a company is kind enough to put a big old gluten free sticker on their label then I will be their friend for life.

In the meantime, keep reading here, even in my darkest moments, I found something on here that would enlighten me or perk me up and its very comforting to know that there are a whole bunch of people who know exactly what you are going through.

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You will get the hang of it, I was overwhelmed at first...particularly after the diagnosis when I walked into a grocery store like I always did but first realized "Hey, I can't eat most of this stuff anymore." It was totally weird. But not now, I'm over it.

The best thing to do I think is to make a couple lists. You won't need them forever, but will for awhile. List the foods you know are labeled gluten free (there are more and more all the time now). Then make a list of things you checked on the web that are gluten free but NOT labeled if you want to go that route...for example Ortega taco seasoning, according to their website, is gluten free. Coke on their website states it's gluten free. Stuff like that, but really check. I search on these forums AND the company website before I'll use it now, almost like a cross reference because ingredients and the like can change.

It's getting easier and easier all the time I've noticed to find gluten free things, and I've only been Celiac less than 18 months myself. Beer was the hardest thing to say goodbye to but there was no getting around that. If you drink, you'll figure out the safe things to have. It's a list, like the others.

Good luck in your gluten free adventures!

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