The Struggle Is Real

Originally Posted  April 2nd 2019

I didn't consider what eating a gluten-free diet actually entailed when I initially started doing it. I wasn't sure if this would be the only way I could eat from now on. Even though I didn't know what was wrong, I had to start somewhere. I learned a lot about gluten-free food's accessibility over the first three months I did it. Where you live, how you must eat, and what your goals are will all have a significant impact on what is available to you. How you eat right now will influence how challenging it will be. What restaurants provide a gluten-free menu? Do you like to cook? In some states, there are tons of gluten-free restaurants, so eating out isn’t a problem for people who live in those states. In other states, there's almost nothing, so those people have to cook the majority of their meals at home. What gluten-free options are available at the grocery store? What are the available ingredients?

My initial goals were to identify the root of my chronic stomach ache. I was already eating organic as much as possible. I was also trying to eat healthy, and while I still have a ways to go, I'm improving.

I baked from scratch and ate vegetables. I cooked meals when I felt like it, but I also ate out frequently. Olive Garden was one of my favorites. Who doesn’t love unlimited breadsticks? I also have more than five choices for pizza within a 5-mile radius, so you can imagine how much I would order pizza. Pizza, how I miss you, with your cheesy goodness.

 Once I started eating gluten-free, I really just looked for gluten-free versions of the foods I was already eating, so pasta, bread (I love Pasta and Bread! ), doughnuts, milk, and cheese. You know, the things that I knew had gluten in them are available in gluten-free versions. I tried eating at restaurants that either had gluten-free options or just food items that were supposed to be naturally gluten-free. Did I mention I had also given up dairy? I knew this would be lifelong. Though I hadn’t come to terms with it yet. Sure, I could still eat it and suffer, but my goal is relief.

In addition, I had no idea that the food might have been contaminated with gluten. I have learned about gluten sensitive and gluten free as menu terms. It might just be me, but having gluten-sensitive items on the menu in a restaurant is unnecessary. It doesn't mean anything. I feel like it's a level below the gluten-free option that restaurants use to make it seem like they're inclusive.

What's interesting is that not everyone was staying home and cooking every night. Many people are taking their chances. They make one of two choices:

They're eating out anyway and willing to suffer later.


They pick gluten-free options at restaurants and go through the painstaking effort of letting people know about them and asking for accommodations.

Fortunately, there are numerous places that do make accommodations, so this alternative isn’t as bad as it used to be. Still, I find that to be too much work. I’d rather just cook at home. Unless I don't feel like doing the dishes that day. I expected to see some improvement, but I wasn’t getting better. I either hadn't changed my diet enough, or the root of the issue hadn't been addressed. I was essentially eating the same as I always had, perhaps even worse because I didn't know what I ought to be eating. I was always hungry, so I bought foods in the grocery store that said gluten-free on them. This included pre-packaged food, box cereals, chips, muffins—you name it, I tried it.

I knew I had to make real changes. I knew what changes I could make, but I ended up always being hungry, so I backtracked and started looking for all the foods I was already eating in gluten-free versions. I thought maybe my problem wasn’t gluten. Since I tested negative, I went back to eating gluten—not fully fledged, but I bought a doughnut here and a crossiant there. While going from eating gluten to not eating it, I didn’t notice a difference, but I surely noticed a difference going back. My stomach hurt more, and I felt heavier. Bloated. Not good; I’m not going in the right direction! So I went back to eating gluten-free. I did learn something from this, though. My problem is bigger than just eating gluten-free. I had to figure this out because I didn’t want to be hungry and, in my hangry mood, fall back into old habits.

I did some research to find out about recurring stomach ailments. What could be the cause? What does it look like to make gluten-free meals at home? What ingredients are available? I talked with others who had been eating gluten-free. I asked them what they thought, what they were eating, and where they were eating. I looked up recipes, read reviews, and, most importantly, noticed how they were different from their gluten-containing counterparts. Ive Probably been eating gluten-free for close to a year now, and through trial and error, I’ve only found a few restaurants where I can eat.

There are ways to find gluten-free restaurants in advance, like Find Me Gluten-Free or doing a Google search; however, the best way to locate gluten-free restaurants in advance is to join a Facebook group, where you can speak with people who have already visited those restaurants and learn about their experiences. I came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth the hassle for me after a few bad experiences.

Because of this, I cook the majority of my meals at home. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; after all, I like being able to choose what goes into my food and knowing that my options are only constrained by what I'm willing to cook. It is also a lot less expensive. In addition, it got old real quick, but I do miss being able to order food on days when I don't feel like cooking. It has been challenging to cut out my favorite restaurants.

I no longer drive by my favorite bakery to pick up doughnuts. When you can't get what you want, you want it even more. What then did I do? Being the baker I am, I searched the internet for recipes to make my favorite foods that would be healthy for me and still taste great.

I know I mentioned making genuine changes—baby steps, people, baby steps. Unfortunately, not all modified recipes turn out to be exactly like their regular counterparts. This is especially true of foods made with cheese or yeast doughs; it often takes a lot of trial and error to create a gluten-free counterpart that is even remotely comparable. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do a lot of work myself because my feelings aren’t unique. The rise in gluten-free and non-dairy options is a testament to that.

Yeast doughs are a challenge because the very thing that makes yeast doughs what they are is the gluten, and that's obviously what's lacking in gluten-free doughs. For those of you who don’t know what gluten is, it is a protein that is responsible for giving dough its texture and rise. I have yet to find a gluten-free pizza crust with the same texture. I’ve been working on pizza. The crust has failed me every time I make it, and the non-dairy cheese doesn’t melt. It just sits there and burns. I’ll be working on it and keeping you posted on my progress. Anyone who has mastered it, feel free to let me in on your secrets. For now, it’s back to the drawing board. Not everything is an utter failure, though; some things have come out the same, and you’d never know the difference.

Things like cookies, brownies, and cupcakes come out the same way. Pie crust would come out the same, but since I’m not using butter, pie crust is a work in progress for me to get it the way I like it. I long to have a yeast doughnut, but for now, I’ll take the gluten-free cake doughnuts I’ve been making. They’re good for now. The other thing is that not all gluten-free ingredients are created equal; they each produce vastly different results, so there’s much room for failure. However, I love the experimentation with it. Eating gluten-free has been a journey of experimentation.

Disclosure: There may be some affiliate links in this post and I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, not all links are affiliate links, some are just to more Information about the topic. Thanks for supporting The Love Feast Kitchen 


< Sweet Potato Oat Bread                                                                                                                                             Broccoli & Tomato  Pasta >