New To Gluten-Free? 5 Ways To Make The Transition Seamless For The Whole Household
When you're new to gluten-free, or you have a family member who has just been diagnosed with celiac disease, shifting from your go-to staples to an unfamiliar GF world can feel daunting. No one likes a change that requires them to give up something they enjoy, but we encourage you to change the internal dialogue: It's all about what you're potentially adding to your daily nutrition.
Gluten-free doesn't have to equal limitation; it can mean an expanded palate and an opportunity for greater variety for the whole family. When transitioning your pantry and lifestyle to accommodate a gluten intolerance and/or sensitivity (whether your own or a family member's), a few helpful tips can make it easy for everyone involved.
Know the why.
Be prepared for the inevitable "What is gluten anyway?" question. When you change the way you eat, the people you eat with notice, especially when dining out. Your new habits may make others think about what they consume and why...and that's OK. Try to be patient, and simply explain the facts.
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, primarily wheat byproducts and varietals like semolina, spelt, farro, kamut, einkorn, and durum. So when someone asks you why crabcakes are no longer in your appetizer rotation, you can explain that the binding breadcrumbs contain gluten, and your digestive system simply doesn't agree with it.
If you have celiac disease, you can add that you have an inherited immune reaction to gluten that causes inflammation in the small intestine. Being able to quickly rattle off the what and why makes it easier to shift the conversation to something more compelling than your diet!
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Make it fun.
Like the famed Pepsi challenge, who doesn't love a taste test? Spend an afternoon sampling, from Canyon Bakehouse Bread's offerings to the many gluten-free pasta varieties out there (chickpea, lentil, mung bean, and more). There are SO many choices, and it's the perfect activity for rainy days or crisp fall nights.
This interactive family experience (from shopping to the kitchen) gets everyone involved and is the perfect way for the gluten-free eater to not feel so isolated, especially when the group arrives at the conclusion that taste doesn't have to be sacrificed in the process! Put different leaders at the helm, challenging them to put on their GF chef's hat to whip up a dish that no one will know is "free" of anything. Canyon Bakehouse toast with bruschetta and chickpea pasta a la vegan vodka just may be your new family favorite for Italian night.
Pro tip: Before buying your GF family-night supplies, do a little research—you'll find that some brands are more trustworthy than others. Canyon Bakehouse, for example, was founded by a mom diagnosed with celiac disease who wanted to ensure that no one has to go without the bread they love. It is a company created not to follow a trend but rather to satisfy the high-quality bread gap for carb-loving celiacs! Learn stories, create memories, and feel good about your grocery haul.
Know your substitutes.
Making a grocery list of easy swaps and stocking the pantry accordingly is an easy way to take the work out of a diet transition. Whether it's coconut aminos for soy sauce or almond and coconut flours for baking, we can guarantee there's a way to get the texture, consistency, and taste you're looking for.
Bagel breakfasts? Still possible! Toast up some Canyon Bakehouse and make a lavish weekend spread for the whole house. If you're more of a traditional toaster, there's a gluten-free variety, also from Canyon Bakehouse, that has the taste quality you hope for, from Ancient Grain to Hawaiian Sweet.
For all your GF substitute needs, there are resources aplenty, and being prepared is half the challenge. Learn the recipe swap hacks and continue to cook away!
Plan for meals in and meals out.
Whether heading to a restaurant or meal prepping at home, it's all about what's on the menu. If your family is accustomed to pizza nights on the regular, discover your gluten-free solution. Also, if it's safe to do so, allow those family members who are not sensitive or allergic to continue to occasionally enjoy foods that contain gluten...just don't make them the focal point of the family meal.
When heading to a restaurant, pop online to check out what the GF options are, and notify them of the sensitivity. When in a bind, the sides on any given menu are your friends (and if you ask us, usually the best part of the menu). A few veggie and starch sides = a delicious, balanced, and gluten-free meal.
A truly "restricted" diet is one that doesn't embrace all the nourishing plants, fruits, starches, and proteins available these days. Think of the gluten-free table as an opportunity for creativity, without sacrificing your love of artisanal bread. A well-balanced plate is one that satisfies and energizes you from the inside out, and that can easily be g-free, thanks to brands like Canyon Bakehouse.
If you're still in need of guidance and recipe inspiration, learn more on Canyon Bakehouse's site—there are resources and a welcoming community available to help you adjust and thrive as a g-free family. Having a group of people who get you just a click away will be the extra support you need as you rise to the challenge.
Meg Phillips is a Brand Strategist at mindbodygreen. She received her degree from Columbia University in the City of New York. She has worked at many top publications and brands including Vogue, Milk Studios, Allure and Bon Appétit. She lives in Manhattan, NY.