3. Don’t cheat.
Now is the time to decide you are not going to cheat. You will be tempted. At some point you might start thinking the diet just isn’t worth it, especially if you weren’t very sick when you were diagnosed. You might decide there is simply too much gluten around to avoid, so you might as well go ahead and eat it. You might not want to stand out or make a fuss when you are eating with others.
Let’s look at these excuses.
The diet is most certainly worth it. Now only will it make you feel better than you ever have before, it will also protect you from the risks you face if you continue to eat gluten – osteoporosis, for example.
There is a lot of gluten around. But once you develop some perspective on the diet and acquire knowledge about ingredients, you’ll discover that you can successfully avoid gluten and stay happy and healthy.
In terms of sticking out in a crowd, maybe the gluten-free diet is not quite as conspicuous to others as it is to you. These days people follow all kinds of diets – vegetarian or dairy-free, to take just two examples. Maybe they have diabetes and need to keep track of their carbohydrates. Or they are trying to lose weight or save money. In a climate of raised food consciousness, those who follow a gluten-free diet may not be as special as they think.
Beyond a few moments of guilty pleasure, you have nothing to gain by cheating, and you have a lot to lose, including your good health. Stick to your vow not to cheat. Treat yourself to a favorite gluten-free comfort food when the going gets rough.
4. Make connections.
Get in touch with a support group. There are local support groups all over the country, all loosely connected. Most are wonderful sources of information, understanding and practical details. If your doctor or dietitian can’t put you in touch with a local group, you can check celiac.com.
Once you’ve found a support group, go to meetings, get to know others who follow the gluten-free diet and volunteer to help. Most support groups need more help than they get. And most offer a great deal more to individuals than each person can possibly put back in.
If you’re not the support group “type,” you will still find it helpful to go to at least one meeting. You’ll find out where to shop and eat out. You’ll be able to talk to people who will understand exactly what you are going through.