Particularly around holiday baking season, I often hear the questions “how do you live without gluten? What do you miss most about life before being gluten-free?”. To be honest, my shaky relationship with gluten is easy peezy compared to living with type 1 diabetes, so I guess it’s all relative. Plus I was already a bit of a granola before I got dumped by gluten, so I like to think that messy break-up was a blessing in disguise.
I expected to miss foods like fresh fettuccine pasta, tempura, whole grain bread and Kashi cereals, yet after eliminating wheat products a few years ago, my overall well-being has radically improved. Plus it opened up my eyes to a wondrous world of wheat alternatives! There is literally a substitute for every gluten thing.
As a type 1 diabetic and plant-based lover, sometimes it’s hard to respectfully decline that special ‘gluten-free’ Christmas cupcake loaded with sugar and butter. Luckily, most gluten-free/dairy-free brands cater well to blood sugars and health conscious peeps. They tend to take a more natural approach using organics and sweeteners like stevia. Unfortunately, not all gluten-free labels are marketed through healthy brands, as many mainstream companies integrating gluten-free might still be using processed ingredients and excess refined sugars (or artificial flavors). For the few extra bucks, I usually suck it up and go au naturel.
Gluten is a master of disguise – from makeup to soy sauce and beer. Even oats and certain ancient grains like kamut and spelt aren’t always certifiably gluten-free, so it’s a harsher world out there for those with life-threatening celiac disease. As we uncover what gluten is doing to the rest of us in the long term (check out Wheat Belly), it’s no wonder more people are abandoning it.
My aunt has been a full blown celiac for decades and she used to go to great lengths to find certified gluten-free products. Nowadays, it’s a cinch to stumble upon GF goods in every neighborhood. They also taste much less like cardboard than they did back then (my aunt will attest to this). My parents have also embraced the gluten-free lifestyle, and they feel way better as a result too!
For anyone struggling with gluten, I know how daunting it can be – but today the transition is probably easier than ever. With trailblazing brands like Udi’s and Nature’s Path, the gluten-free industry has skyrocketed. Restaurants now offer gluten-free menus, and finding pre-made starch staples like pizza crust and pasta in the gluten-free variety is a cakewalk.
As fresh spins on gluten-free products keep surfacing (and periodically going on sale!), I think it’s safe to say the gluten-free culture is here to stay. Yay!