the 3 stages of gluten-free eating
I firmly believe that living a gluten-free life is a journey, not a destination. And during your journey, your gluten-free food lifestyle will move through 3 distinct stages. Not everyone will go through these stages exactly the same or even in the same order, but I believe you will find quite a bit of truth in them.
1. the “replacement” stage
What? I cannot eat gluten anymore? But what about bread, and cupcakes and, OMG PIZZA?
This phase usually involves replacing all the gluten things you were enjoying with their gluten-free counterparts. This happens for a couple of reasons. One, you really love pizza or bread or whatever your favorite gluten-containing food is and you don’t want to be without it. Totally understandable! Two, you feel that if you can replace all that you have lost, then everything will be okay. (Everything will be okay whether you replace gluten or not but at this stage, you are not in any shape to even consider that).
The Replacement Phase can last months or even years; everyone is different. Generally at this stage, you don’t have a ton of gluten-free cooking knowledge so you seek out all the GF products you can find. Luckily, there are SO MANY MORE of those products today than there were 14 years ago when I went gluten-free.
2. the “there’s gotta be more” stage
Okay, I think I have this gluten-free eating thing down, sort of. But is there another way to eat?
After living the gluten-free lifestyle for a while, you realize you want more in your diet than gluten-free replacement products that have been sustaining you for so long.
Maybe you still don’t feel as good as you want to? Maybe you want to eat a more varied diet? Maybe you have spent your entire life’s savings on $6 loaves of bread and $15 frozen pizzas? Whatever the reason, you are ready to move on and add additional foods to your diet. This is where you seek out gluten-free recipes online, buy cookbooks, and start introducing yourself to vegetables, meats, and other naturally gluten-free foods you may have ignored before.
3. the “i am breaking up with processed food” stage
I am living the life, and it’s become “my life,” but I want more from my food! How can I make this a life-long, sustainable way to live, and be happy, too?
At some point, and this may come years after living gluten-free, you realize that you are tired of reading labels, eating processed food, ingesting pesticides and GMO’s and want to start eating as safely and nutritiously as you can while at the same time enjoying delicious food. This is where you start making your own sauces, dressings, and just about everything else you eat. You are in total control of what you eat and you feel better both physically and mentally because of it.
Discover. Cook. Enjoy.