With some planning and creative thinking, your gluten-free life will become much easier to enjoy!

Eating healthy with a gluten free, paleo, or other special diet choice is easy…and delicious!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that eating gluten-free is a curse you simply have to live with; however, the truth is the only hard thing about it is having to break your old eating habits and make new, better ones. With some planning and creative thinking, your gluten-free life will become much easier to deal with using these powerful tips.

Healthy Food Challenge #1: I Love Fast Food!

One of the toughest challenges of being gluten-free is the fast food dilemma. What do you eat on the go when every fast food menu has a sandwich or extra form of gluten additive? On a cross-country road trip, you will start running out of food selections as you pass through the middle of nowhere. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have and can’t eat, look at what’s available because there’s always an alternative everywhere you go.

-Subway has great salads big enough to serve as a complete meal, and you can add everything to them like cheese, chicken, etc. Their salads are always fresh too.

-If you’re stuck at the gas station’s convenience store, look for things like real cheese, pure yogurt, trail mix with natural ingredients, plain nuts and soy milk drinks. If the store has a semi-grocery style section, then grab some fruit.

-Bring your favorite gluten-free snacks from your health store with you while driving long distances, or when you know you’ll be out of the house all day.

-Every restaurant has an à la carte menu, so use it to your advantage! Just pick the items you know are safe for you with the least amount of processing required: rice, beans, steamed vegetables, etc. Make your own meal!

Healthy Food Challenge #2: Food Labels Are Confusing

Reading every label on the packages of your food items is also one of the greatest challenges of being gluten-free. Save yourself the trouble by purchasing less packaged food!

The more you learn about nutrition, the more you’ll discover there are a ridiculous amount of hidden forms of MSG and other food additives in packaged foods that are bad for everyone, whether or not you are a celiac. As you become a better cook with practice, you’ll see a good meal really only takes 20 minutes or less to make, and you can do it entirely with fresh, naturally dried or frozen ingredients.

The bottom line is this: Eating whole, unprocessed foods makes your life easier, and later you’ll have more patience to read a few more labels.

Healthy Food Challenge #3: I’m the Life of the Party…

Blend in several types of beef to flavor-up your burger…naturally! You won’t even miss the bun…

How do you stay true to a gluten free diet in social situations where it seems no one else but you has special requirements for their meal?

The good news is because there is more awareness around food allergies people are less likely to dub you as the oddball in the group. Afterall, we’re all “odd” in our own special way anyways! *wink

More likely, people will worry about being a good host and providing something great for you to enjoy as well as everyone else. The best advice is to approach the whole food conversation in a light-hearted, non-judgmental way. Not everyone wants to be or has to be gluten free and that’s okay!

Do some pre-planning and make sure to call the hostess before the party starts to give them a heads up about your diet in a friendly way so that it’s not a big shock when you arrive. Don’t put the full burden of accommodation on their shoulders. Offer to bring some food that you can eat with enough for others to try and enjoy.

If you end up unexpectedly in a social situation don’t stress. Remember, if you don’t make it seem like a big deal, then no one else will make it a big deal either. Simply look at what’s available and make a decision about whether you’ll partake in the food or consider ordering something for delivery or picking something up.

Think of all your food choices as a grand adventure. You’ll be exposed to a greater variety of healthy options, learn to create some dishes on your own, and have the opportunity to share your food life with others in your life.

And…sharing is a great thing!