Gluten Free, The Best Way to Be
I love food. In fact, I always have. I was never one of those picky eaters as a child (well, there was that one Thanksgiving where I refused to eat anything but rice), and I’m pretty sure I started eating red meat relatively early. My love for discovering new restaurants and cuisines came from growing up in a house where the kitchen was rarely used. My mother barely knew how to cook, so that meant I barely knew how to cook, causing me to essentially live off of take out. As an adult, I began to really enjoy frequenting new culinary hot spots and eventually got really caught up in the local food truck craze. That is, until I started experiencing some pretty intense digestive issues. Everything I ate caused me severe pain, fatigue, rashes up and down my legs, and not-so-fun bowel problems. My love of food is the only reason I dealt with these symptoms until a few months ago when I decided I was tired of feeling sick every single day. And that is when I received the diagnosis after a quick and simple blood test: gluten intolerant.
What it Means to be Gluten Intolerant
Thankfully, I was already aware of the condition and had a great support group made up of my friends and family that helped me get used to this new lifestyle. For those of you not in the know, being gluten intolerant means you cannot enjoy any food or drink containing wheat, barley, rye or oats. There are also varying degrees, with Celiac’s Disease being the most severe and gluten sensitivity being the mildest (I’m right snug in the middle). This means kiss bread, pasta and most importantly (for me), beer, goodbye among other things of course. I will be completely honest, it has been very difficult, but probably the most grueling aspect of it all has been how much money I spend weekly stocking up on gluten-free products. My quick trips to the nearby Target Marketplace are a thing of the past. I now drive 20 minutes or more to the closest Whole Foods Market, and walk out with a pretty sizable bill that doesn't even include half of the items I was hoping to find.
I was pretty sure my body was on a clear path to bankrupt me until I decided to do my research. There had to be a better way. And a couple of months later, I can say there is.
Gluten Free Options
If you are also gluten-intolerant, suffer from any variation, or just want to adhere to the diet for health purposes, it is important to remember that Whole Foods is not the say-all, be-all provider of gluten-free items. More local grocery stores, such as Publix, are starting to carry limited, but sufficient gluten-free products in their Greenwise sections.
I was also surprised to see gluten-free pancake mix at Target’s Marketplace for about half the price it would be sold at more fancy locations, such as Whole Foods. Aside from physical brick and mortar stores, you can also buy some harder to find (or just run-of-the-mill) gluten-free products online at pretty reasonable prices. Some of my favorite sites with the best gluten-free selections are BarryFarm.com, Food4Celiacs.com and ShopOrganic.com, but there are definitely more out there so it’s important to do a little Google searching.
Gluten Free Recipes
Finally, one of my favorite ways to save a little money while adhering to a gluten-free diet, is to learn some recipes of my own! As a cooking novice, I can tell you that the recipes I have found are not difficult at all, and are absolutely delicious. I have discovered some really great blogs full of amazing gluten-free recipes that are updated regularly. It’s really important to know what foods you can consume without irritation that most likely do not require any fancy gluten-free ingredients, and the following blogs do a great job of providing just that:
Again, there are plenty more where those came from, so make sure to surf the web for others that may appeal to you.
I hope that I was able to shed a little light on how to successfully live gluten-free without bankruptcy. There is most definitely a light at the end of our financial tunnel; it just requires a little extra leg (or finger) work!