The first few weeks on a gluten-free diet are the toughest. In particular, it is confusing to know what to eat and where to buy it. You may feel a sense of loss at the thought of the lifestyle change you’re facing. But thorough planning and determination will help you get past the sense of loss. .
In this Lesson I will discuss a process you can use to be confidently gluten-free. I will show you how to track your progress, create a meal plan for a full week, and how to formulate a comprehensive grocery shopping list.
How to Track Your Progress
The amount of information relating to eating gluten-free is overwhelming. How can you possibly manage all the information? You can prevent being overwhelmed by keeping track of important information and your progress in a journal.
Bring your journal with you when you visit your doctor or nutritionist, as they may have tips you’ll want to jot down. Reviewing it on a regular basis can show you what is going well, and where you need help as you transition to eating gluten-free.
Here are some ideas of things to note in your journal:
- Gluten-free foods you like
- Questions you have
- Meal ideas
- Date / time of moments you don’t feel well and what you ate beforehand
- How you feel since being on a gluten-free diet
A three-ring binder with paper and folders makes a great journal. Use the folders to keep handouts, magazine clippings, Internet printouts and other information you collect. Use the paper to take notes and record details of how things are progressing.
If you find a recipe or product you love, make a note of it. When you make a mistake (and you will), make a note of that as well.
Keep track of symptoms. Note which food seems to work and those you should avoid (your body’s responses will gives you clues). Logging successes and failures helps track your progress and accelerates the learning curve.
Organize your binder by sections such as Recipes, Notes, Products, and Medical. This will help you keep the information organized and ready to use. It’s your personal journal, so make sure it fits your lifestyle.
You could also create and use an electronic journal. Programs like Evernote make note taking very easy. Plus with Evernote, you can capture pictures of recipes with your Smartphone, download pages from the Internet, and all the information can be organized into folders that can be shared between your computer, phone, and tablet.
Now that you have a solid plan for keeping track of how your gluten-free diet is going, it’s time to plan for what to eat during your first week. (Even if you already eat gluten-free, it is helpful to go through the exercise of planning your meals in advance.)
How to Get Started
In this section you’ll find meal and snack ideas for a full seven days, as well as tips for handling some common challenges.
During the first week you should focus on incorporating and cooking gluten-free food, as knowing what to eat each day can be a challenge.
This One Week Meal Plan includes suggestions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (five of the seven breakfasts are great for busy workday mornings). These are all meals to cook at home. These are designed to be relatively simple to prepare until you get more comfortable with cooking gluten-free. (It’s a given that all components should be gluten-free):
One Week Meal Plan (BONUS – I will send you this plan and recipes)
- Yogurt with fresh fruit
- General Mills Chex cereal (except Wheat Chex) and fruit – look on the front of the box for “gluten-free”
- Scrambled eggs and sausage
- Poached egg with sliced red pepper
- Bagel (Udi’s is a widely available brand) with cream cheese
- Pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit salad
- Breakfast tacos
- Sandwich (gluten-free bread, Hormel Natural Selections packaged deli meat, sliced cheese)
- Corn tortilla quesadilla
- Chef salad
- Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup (Annie’s is one example)
- Fruit and protein shake (i.e., Arbonne’s protein mix)
- Baked potato with steamed vegetables
- Burger and fries
- Pasta with sauce
- Beef and broccoli stir fry
- Chicken enchiladas with corn tortillas
- Sweet and sour pork
- Baby carrots
- Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
- Cool Ranch Doritos
- Tootsie Rolls
- Peanut M&M’s
- Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers
- Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-Ups
- Musselman’s Cinnamon Apple Sauce
- Frito Lay Cashews
This is a total of 21 meals to use over seven days, so you can mix and match to create meals for each day.
The next step is to make a grocery list from your meal planning.
How to Make a Grocery List
Although the trend for providing gluten-free products to consumers is on the rise, finding appealing food can be challenging. To make the search easier you should have a grocery list to take with you to the supermarket.
Research gluten-free alternatives for each item on your list in case the supermarket is out of the product you’re looking for, and write them next to the item. For example, the start of a grocery list for the One Week Meal Plan could look like the one below (in the chapter titled “Be Confident” I suggest many more gluten-free options):
- Head of lettuce
- Mixed greens
- Bell peppers
- Russet potatoes
- Fresh fruit (whatever is in season that you like)
- Ground beef
- Pork chops
- Chicken breasts
- Beef for stir fry
- Lunch meat (Hormel Natural Selections, Oscar Mayer)
- Cheddar cheese
- Monterey Jack cheese (Kraft or Tillamook)
- Sour cream (Frigo, Tillamook)
- Yogurt (Stonyfield, Yoplait if labeled gluten-free)
- Cereal (General Mills Chex– cinnamon, chocolate, honey nut, rice, corn)
- Taco shells (Ortega)
- Corn tortillas (Mission, Ortega)
- Tortilla chips (On the Border, Tostitos)
- Pasta (Tinkyada, DeBoles)
Depending on where you live, it could be hard to find gluten-free products. But that shouldn’t limit you as you can order the food online and have it shipped to your door. These websites sell gluten-free products at competitive prices:
Amazon.com: In addition, you get free two-day shipping and cheap overnight shipping with an Amazon Prime membership.
Celiac.com – The Gluten-Free Mall: Is one of the original online gluten-free supermarkets.
- Keep a journal where you can note questions, important tips, gluten-free food, and organize printouts, recipes and research material.
- Plan your meals to help make it easier to shop and eat gluten-free.
- Make a grocery list with gluten-free brands so you know exactly what to buy.
Maintaining a gluten-free diet can seem daunting when you think of it in terms of weeks or months, so take it one day at a time. Baby steps… baby steps… baby steps!
If you accidentally eat food containing gluten, address your physical symptoms, work on feeling better, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Being on a gluten-free diet will become second nature and an inherent part of your healthier lifestyle.