Going Gluten-Free: The First Steps

Becoming a label reader

Before you needlessly throw everything in your kitchen pantry away, and as you begin to go shopping for gluten-free products, the biggest change in your shopping routine is that you’re going to become an expert at reading labels and enquiring about ingredients at counters. Don’t go shopping without your reading glasses. Familiarize yourself with the ingredients you want to avoid. Go to gluten-free association websites such as celiac.com and .org, or ones that your health professional has recommended and bookmark them for future reference. Print out the lists of ingredients you can and can’t have. Tape that list up somewhere in your kitchen and download a pdf version to your mobile device to assist you when you’re out shopping or at a restaurant.

One of the first, and most important, distinctions to keep in mind when shopping is that “wheat free” on a label does not mean gluten-free; it just means that there is no gluten from wheat sources in there. So all gluten-free food is wheat-free, but not vice versa. And contrary to what its name seems to imply, buckwheat actually is gluten-free, as is wheatgrass (a great superfood found in many green-powdered blends). -I know; it’s confusing at first, but these are the kinds of distinctions you’re going to be able to make with ease soon enough.

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Going Gluten-Free; Intro: Surviving the panic of “What am I going to Eat?!”

photo: lifeismelody.com

Your doctor has just told you that you need to start a gluten-free diet, effective immediately. After the appointment, you drive your car to the ‘weird’ natural foods store in town that your neighbors told you about. You find a parking spot and turn off the engine, but you’re not ready to get out of the car. Where did it all go wrong, you wonder, and is there still time to run over and grab a breaded fried chicken sandwich and a milkshake one more time and pretend that your doctor’s appointment is tomorrow and that’s when you’ll go gluten-free? You pull the keys out of the ignition, climb out of your car, and start the long walk across the parking lot to the store’s entrance. You grab a shopping cart, and in you go…

I’ve seen that look over a hundred times by now; a couple or an individual is tentatively looking around the ‘health food’ store which you can tell they’ve never set foot in before, and on their face there’s a complex mixture of resignation, trepidation and skepticism. Inside their heads, the thoughts are swirling: “I’m going to have to eat unflavored vegetables, steamed chicken and potato chips for the rest of my life.” “While the rest of the family gorges on pizza and Aunt Sally’s famous strawberry pie, I’m going to be looking at a plate of rice crackers topped with pepperoni slices and a bowl of cold strawberries.” “I’m going to have to cook two sets of meals every day.” “What will I do besides sip water when the office staff goes to lunch together?” “I’ll never get a birthday cake again; and what about Thanksgiving? OMG, What about Thanksgiving?!”

The good news is: you’re going to make it through this. And though there will be disappointments and inconveniences, you’re not going to be relegated to the corner, picking at a bowl of tasteless gluten-free gruel and sipping a wine cooler while the gang is downing brewskis and pizza watching the big game. As a matter of fact, even if you’ve been told you have to go on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet for the rest of your life, you’re still going to be able to have pizza and beer again. Continue reading

Life Is Melody: July update


So here’s a July update for Life Is Melody .com. For the Outlooks section, there’s an abridged version of the Perfection of Ultimate Wisdom Sutra, several Chuang Tzu excerpts in the Reading Room (soon to be joined by more of his excellent forays into depth, imagination and humor), and some upcoming material on Hui-neng and Mahayana from Goddard’s Buddhist Bible. I’m still putzing with the image slideshow plugin and presentation, but hope to have a fullscreen slideshow gallery and an improved Reading Room format by the end of the month. The Lifestyle section will finally get its first post or two this month, starting with the intro to a series on gluten-free eating, and the Society/Politics section began the month with Voodoo Economics: The Trickle-down Fairy Tale. There are now some reading suggestions corresponding to the four sections of the site in the Store tab for people who occasionally want a real book on hand to read, and some improved functionality should appear when the sidebar and footer items get settled upon. One of these days I’m even going to fill out the “About” page!

Up coming stuff in the next few weeks: a neat video on creativity, the aforementioned gluten-free series’ start, an excerpt from a Swervedriver show I shot, the next Zen Exchange post and ongoing improvements to the site as I continue to learn how and what I’d like to implement. Thanks for dropping by.