A gluten-free diet can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, if you have an allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity to gluten, steering clear of it can radically improve your digestive system, gut health, and overall wellbeing. On the other hand, eating gluten-free can make you feel like you’re missing out on some of the best foods (we’re looking at you, sourdough bread).
But, here’s the truth: with the right attitude and nutrition know-how, a gluten-free diet can be extremely satisfying and, what’s more, enjoyable. Here are four tips for eating gluten-free without feeling deprived!
Focus on what you can eat
Instead of obsessing about the foods you can’t eat on a gluten-free diet, focus on what you can enjoy. Eliminate foods from your pantry and fridge that invite temptation or comparison, then stock up on the food you can have. That includes naturally gluten-free foods like meat and fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, veggies, fruit, dairy products, potatoes, rice, and corn, plus plenty of incredible modified gluten-free snacks and treats.
Keep your favorite snacks on hand
When you feel restricted or deprived on a gluten-free diet, it’s usually because you don’t have enough options to choose from. Your favorite coffee shop might only stock muffins and pastries, for instance, while your office pantry could be chock-full of pretzels and cookies.
That’s why it’s helpful to keep a stash of tasty, nutritious snacks on hand for situations when you need to fuel up. Apples, oranges, and bananas make great whole food snacks, as do nuts and sliced veggies.
For healthy, portable snacks that require zero prep, FitJoy bars make for great options. Each bar is gluten-free, GMO-free, and packed with around 20 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber to keep you full. Plus, there are tons of delicious flavors (think: Grandma’s Lemon Square, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Cookies and Cream) to choose from.
Embrace gluten-free substitutes
Going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your favorite foods. There are countless gluten-free substitutes available to satisfy your cravings, whether you’re cooking for yourself or dining out. You can pick up a pack of fresh everything bagels, make your own banana bread with almond or coconut flour, or cook pasta made from buckwheat flour or brown rice.
Experiment with new recipes
When you have diet restrictions, it’s tempting to fall into the habit of cooking and eating the same foods over and over again, but too much repetition can make you feel deprived. If you notice yourself gravitating toward the same chicken-veggie-potato meal for dinner each night, mix it up.
Make a point to try at least one new recipe every week. Browse Pinterest for creative gluten-free meal ideas, or search “glutenfree” hashtags on Instagram for inspiration. If you find a recipe you like, don’t be afraid to adapt it to your taste: try adding different spices, swapping ingredients, or switching up the cooking method.
Half the battle of sticking to a regimented nutrition plan is your mindset, so keep things fun and interesting!
Paige is a freelance health and lifestyle writer, editor, and perpetual optimist from Southern California. When she's not crafting stories, she loves to read, travel, and get sandy. Want to know more about her? Visit her site: paigeashleysmith.com.