It’s the second month of 2019. How are you holding up on your gluten-free diet? 🙂
We know. Taking on a diet that is different from everyone else’s can be a challenge.
Being diagnosed with Celiac disease, or non-Celiac gluten intolerance is a positive development, since formerly mysterious symptoms that you experience can now be controlled, and you can finally take charge and live a healthier life. But with this new realization come emotions that you also in a very real way have to battle with on a daily basis: from frustration of not being able to eat what you want, to the anxiety of being excluded.
So, how do you cope?
The Restaurant Anxiety
You don’t want to be thought of as a picky eater. As a matter of fact, you want other people to be comfortable around you while dining out. Or at least, not to be a consideration for others all the time, whenever you are dining out with friends or co-workers. This can be a cause of major anxiety for someone new to a diet not adhered to by most people around them. The feeling of social exclusion can be wearing.
How to Deal:
Consciously and actively remind yourself of the positive effects of taking on your new diet. You would no longer have to deal with the symptoms such as headaches or diarrhea, and you are actually doing something to be healthy. Keeping a journal to write down things you are grateful for in this diet, can be a major help. If you are not used to journaling, simply creating a bulleted list tucked away in your phone, which you could peruse when you feel anxiety bubbling up, could be the difference between an anxious lunch and a relaxed one.
If you are not yet very skilled in scouting what’s gluten-free on a standard menu, make some time to know which Gluten Free restaurants are in your school or around your workplace. In a group setting, there will almost always be a pause to consider where the group is dining out. Occasionally be the one to suggest a place where you know there are options for you. A place where people with regular diets can be comfortable, too. Focus on the fact that you are simply suggesting somewhere to eat, not being picky. Other people may even thank you for being quick about it.
Frustration: I can no longer eat everything I want.
Frustration of not being able to eat what you want is one of the major emotions to deal with when first starting out on a gluten-free diet. You have done your research and now have the list of what to eat nailed down. But along with that is acquiring an even more vast knowledge of what you cannot have. Watching other family members chow down a nice regular sandwich or that delicious cake is an experience you will be very familiar with.
How to Deal: Realize that flavor is not synonymous with gluten. There are delicious gluten-free options available for you, as well. As you get more acquainted with this new diet, you will very soon try a myriad of different food options that will be very agreeable with your taste buds, as well as your diet. Food that you will even crave for. That sandwich? You can have one at home with your own gluten-free bread. That cake, well think, “I’ll buy one from that gluten-free place I know, or even make it one better: I will make one myself in that yam flavor I cannot get just anywhere. It will be delicious.”
The Grocery Battlefield
Unarmed, it can be very intimidating walking into a grocery store not knowing what to put in your shopping cart. Looking at the back labels of food can make your grocery shopping take twice as long. It can leave you shrouded in misery going up and down the aisles looking for but not finding exactly the things you need. It’s not unusual to feel yourself welling up with the overwhelming emotion and stress of it all.
How to Deal: Firstly, know your enemy. You can read our previous post on what to watch out for in a Filipino grocery store, such as stealth gluten. Being fluent in gluten vocabulary can immediately shrink the stress of complicated food label reading in half. Easily spot gluten, and easily eliminate it. You can also make this chore more convenient by first doing some scouting online. You can have gluten free food delivered to you at home from shops that offer a wide range of gluten-free options and can drop it right to your doorstep.
Being on this new gluten-free diet is a definite change and you would have to deal with different emotions that go along with it. But at the end of the day, what would make this gluten-free transition a lot easier for you is allowing yourself to lean into them. Everyone on this diet will have similar experiences as you. Just like gluten in your diet, you can take control of it and soon eliminate them from your life.
How do you deal with your own emotions in this diet? Feel free to share it with us in the comments! 🙂