August 2018 I went gluten free and haven’t looked back yet! At the time I was nervous. It seemed like a big change in my diet. I really loved donuts, bread, and all things fried. However, at this point in our relationship, Aimee had been cooking us some incredible meals, and they were all gluten free. So how hard could it really be?
After Aimee helped me realize I could still enjoy amazing food, I was more open to the switch. Additionally, as our relationship continued to develop, it felt wrong to not support Aimee. She never expressed an issue with it, but I’m sure watching me devour a box of Little Debbie Zebra Swiss Rolls was not as enjoyable for her as it was for me. I’m also sure she didn’t like keeping all of my other gluten filled snacks in the house, but she did. Without complaint. The fact that she provided zero pressure to switch my diet, was another huge contributor to my desire to make the leap.
So I went gluten free.
So far over the course of the year, I have not knowingly consumed any item containing gluten. I’m sure over the year there have been cross contaminants due to a rogue fryer or crumbs from someone’s sandwich on a cutting board, but I’m pretty damn happy with my progress if I do say so myself! What have I learned over the past year? Here is what you need to know!!
Do it for the right reasons
As I stated earlier, I had no pressure to switch my diet. She didn’t know it, but I was watching Aimee. I was watching what she ate, how she ate, and how it impacted her daily life. What I saw was her pay close attention to her meals, have patience and diligence when eating out, and eating some incredible food! Until I ate her gluten free food, I had never eaten so well. “Flavor bomb” is the descriptor that comes to mind when I think about her first few meals she prepared. Even a year later, they still blow me away!
So when I say “do it for the right reasons,” I mean do it because you want to. Do it because you want to support your spouse. Do it because you want to pay more attention to your diet. Whatever the reason, make sure that reason is yours and not someone else’s.
Don’t do it for the wrong reasons
As stated above, go gluten free because you want to. Don’t do it because you are being told to. If you are a spouse/significant other who is gluten free, don’t guilt your partner into being gluten free. If Aimee had implied, joked, or provided sarcastic remarks indicating her desire for me to go gluten free, I can assure you…I’d have a Big Mac in my hand right “meow!” Maybe it was reverse psychology, but the fact that there was no pressure, made it even more compelling for me to make the switch. When I told Aimee I was deciding to go gluten free, her face lit up! So for those of you who want your partner to join you on your gluten free journey… maybe backing off a bit will help relieve some pressure on them.
Hold yourself accountable
I started my Gluten Free Dad Instagram page to hold myself accountable. Once that got rolling, this blog idea popped up as another way to keep myself honest. For me, connecting with other gluten free folks on IG has been crucial. Seeing what others are eating and connecting with other folks out there has been incredible. Until Gluten Free Dad, I didn’t take IG seriously. However, it has been a huge help and impacts what we eat as a family very often. We get so many great dinner ideas and dessert ideas from there!
If it’s not social media or a blog, find a way to hold yourself accountable. Find a good support network. Check out some other gluten free blogs. Keep yourself honest and it will greatly help you in your journey. The key thing to remember though, you can’t have cheat days when it comes to gluten. It should be an all or nothing lifestyle. I’ve seen studies indicating it takes up to 6 months to process out of your body.
Empty the house!
This might be more difficult for some…but get the gluten out of your house! If you’re single, it’s probably easier. If you are a house divided, it will probably be the hardest thing to do. If both parents are gluten free, you can transition your kids with them not even seeing it!
Make your house gluten free. The pantry is the first stop…Toss out those old boxes of pasta and replace them with gluten free pasta. They will collect dust just the same. Cereal…toss it and go with a gluten free variety. Very easy to find. If you are gluten free parents, you can find gluten free options of just about everything your kids like to eat. They also taste pretty close to the same.
If you are a house divided…one is gluten free and the other is not…this may be more difficult, but I would recommend separating the gluten and then working on finding gluten free substitutes that the non-gluten free partner likes. For example, to me, gluten free pasta tastes almost the same as regular pasta. See if your partner will agree to go with that. I’d consider that a win!
I feel better!
I’ve lost 35 pounds and have a shredded beach body, all because of going gluten free…just kidding. I’d say my body composition has not changed much over the year. For work we have to maintain a certain height and weight, so I weigh myself almost daily. I’m probably more aware than most when it comes to paying attention to my body. Where I feel better is in my gut and my joints. I generally don’t get that bloated feeling after eating a good hefty meal. My #2s are better…I’ll leave it at that for that area. When I wake up in the morning, I’m not as stiff. I also intermittent fast frequently. I have noticed I don’t get as ‘Hangry” at the end of a fasting window. Overall, I simply feel better.
You’ve got a lot of explaining to do…all the time
“Oh… you’re gluten free?” “is there gluten in that salad?” “why are you gluten free?” Over the last year, I have been asked these questions a million times. I think over the next 60 years, or however long I live, I will be asked these questions. Do they get old? Sure. However, I just see it as part of the diet, because I asked the same questions when I was unaware of what gluten free meant. I remember when Aimee told me she was gluten free the first time and I can remember a million questions popping up in my head. “What the heck is gluten!?”
Your wallet will not be happy
I’ll be honest, gluten free food simply costs more. You’ve got to shop around. We were finding gluten free Mac and Cheese at Walmart for a buck. I think we bought a pallet of it! A few weeks later, they are double the price. Shop around. Find a good grocery store that has the products you like for the price you want. You will however realize that some foods you were already eating are gluten free. Put that in the win column.
Saving money is probably a priority for most people, so there is some good news when it comes to your wallet. Your grocery bill may go up, but your dining out bill will probably drop. You will find yourself eating meals at home. Budgeting for food will be more predictable, which is another win in my book. Find amazing recipes and make them yourself. That’s so much more rewarding than eating out, and way easier on the wallet!!
What do I miss?
I’ll be honest, there are many things I miss. Beer, Big Macs, hot and fresh Krispy Kreme donuts, just to name a few… My all time favorite beer was Red Oak. I probably ate at least one Big Mac per week. There is just something about that special sauce! Hold the lettuce of course! Don’t get me started on Krispy Kreme…those hot and fresh glazed donuts right off the assembly line…the cream filled chocolate donuts… but I’m still going strong. Fighting the good fight!
So how do I do it? How could I give up all those delicious treats? Well, it’s easy really… there are some pretty good equivalents out there. There is a beer called Glutenberg, that makes some really good stuff. I’ve also developed a taste for Crown Royal. I’ve branched out a bit and drink more ciders as well. That’s how I have filled my desire for a cold beer and it meets my needs! The Big Mac…well there is only one Big Mac, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to McDonald’s now, so I’m not missing it too bad. Last month however… we were going through the McDonald’s drive through. I ordered a Big Mac with no lettuce and no bun…that is correct, it was just two beef patties, onions, and special sauce.. and it was glorious! I feel like I could have eaten 30 of those!
As far as Krispy Kreme, I went a while without eating donuts. There are a couple good frozen brands such as Katz that make very good gluten free donuts. However they were not the same. But hold the phone! Aimee found a recipe for some pumpkin spice donuts with a maple syrup glaze that have rocked my world. It will be one of the next recipes I post here, so stay tuned. So my donut desire has been more than filled!
Long year…now what?
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already. So much has changed since last August and the future is only looking brighter. I’ve enjoyed all of my gluten free finds and really enjoy the support at home and support found on social media.
My gluten free journey is just beginning. If you have made it to the point, thanks for stopping by! Let me know where you are in your journey or what questions you have. My focus over the next few months will be recipes. So stay tuned for some of my favorite Gluten Free Dad recipes!