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Monday, June 18, 2012

Sticky Situations #3: What to do when you crave gluten

If you're a steadfast gfreer like me, you'll have no doubt come across the all encompassing temptation of the gluten goodies.

Yep, you know what I'm talking about.

Imagine a scene of you with a dish of fresh baked cookies sitting on the table. The aromatic scent of the cookies rises up into your nose causing your mouth to immediately start watering. You glance longingly at the cookies. The deliciously round disks of sugary flour are a perfect golden brown tinge and the ridges and cracks on its buttery surface make it look all the more appetizing. You imagine the taste in your mouth, the feel of the dough across your tongue and the crunching sound you hear as you chew slowly and deliberately, savoring the golden flavor. The cookie beckons for you to come closer. Soon, the urge to satisfy your craving are becoming too much to handle.

Probably not gfree choco chip cookies... but they do look oh so good

Before you know it, your hand has already reached out and that gluten filled cookie is heading closer and closer towards your mouth. You know its wrong and you try to reason with yourself in your head. But all reason flies out the window when the cookie hits your tongue and the familiar flavors that you enjoyed in the past come rushing back to you. Before you know it, the cookie is gone. The craving is satisfied... but at what price?

Okay, so I know the scene above is highly dramatized, but seriously, there's a pretty intense battle going on in my head every time I see ANY delicious, great smelling gluten filled dessert or bread. Sometimes when I see my own family members eating it in front of me, it's really hard to say no. There have even been times when my mom has jokingly told me that I can eat it and then spit it out or lick it just to taste the flavor.  I can't tell you how many times I've been tempted by the offer!

So what's the big deal? Why not eat a little bit just to satisfy a craving? Just a little bit shouldn't hurt, right? 

This is absolutely, positively wrong!  

No matter HOW much you are tempted by the gluten, you have to learn and accept that gluten isn't a friend. Gluten will cause damage to your intestine and hurt your body. No matter how great the craving, the pain in the end isn't worth it, my friend. I guarantee this. 

I know by word of mouth some people who have celiacs but still eat an occasional pizza or cake just to satisfy the craving. Plus, I'm sure it doesn't help when you see a bunch of people around you enjoying what you can't have. It's a drag, really.

But, I'm telling you now to do yourself and your body a favor and just don't eat it. You're doing much more than just satisfying a little craving. A little now can become just a little bit more the next time, and slightly larger the next time, and the next time after that, and the next time after that, and..... you get what I mean. Reintroducing gluten after you've gone on the diet is simply counterproductive. Going on the gfree diet isn't something to be taken lightly, although many people who don't have to eat gfree sometimes don't understand this very important fact. With celiacs, "cheating" by eating some occasional gluten should not be allowed if you want your body to heal from all the damage.

Of course, cross contamination is the hardest aspect of the gfree diet to avoid, but I'm talking about the premeditation of choosing to eat gluten and executing that action by your own will just for the sake of satisfying a momentary craving.

So with all that said, what can you do to fight the urge? Here are some tips I've found useful in avoiding those nasty little gluten buggers!

1) Pain before gain. This common phrase can be put to good use in terms of avoiding gluten in a gluten-filled world. Every time you ingest some gluten, just know that you're gonna reap the consequences of your actions. Even though you gain the pleasure of eating that gluten snack to satisfy the momentary craving, just remember that the pain will follow very closely behind.

2) Just imagine it! I literally imagine whatever I'm eating go down and wreak havoc on my poor intestine. Just think about the poor villi being singed to death by the gluten and you'll never want to eat another gluten- filled crumb again.

3) Find a gfree buddy (or at least a friend, loved one, or family who you can trust to restrain you). Thank goodness my bestie T and I keep each other in check to prevent the temptation from taking over. Often times having someone next to you who supports you in your diet does wonders to help you avoid the very thing causing you pain.

4) Fill your tummy with safe, gfree food before tackling any situation where gluten may be present. If you find yourself heading out to eat with friends or if you're in any type of social situation where you believe gluten will be present (probably every time!) then make sure to eat beforehand if you're not sure if there will be gfree food. I've mentioned this in several posts before, but always bring a gfree snack in your bag or on your person just in case there's no food for you to eat wherever you happen to go. If you're full, chances are you'll be less likely to eat something that you'll regret later.

5) Challenge a non-gfree eater to eat gluten free with you for a week.  You'll have to scout someone exceptionally special for this task. Why? Because eating gfree for a non-gfree eater might be one of the hardest things they'll ever do. But, I promise you, this option is actually pretty fun and you might get it a kick out of it. Not only will you and your friend challenge each other to eat completely gfree and keep each other in check, but your non-gfree friend will also learn more about going gfree. Spreading awareness about celiac disease and gfree diets will not only raise awareness but also you'll have lots of great memories from the experience!

These are just some of many ideas to avoid gluten. I would love to hear your thoughts on how you avoid gluten or fight the temptation in your daily lives!

Live fully and healthily,


Super handy and amazing advice! Nice post Kristen :)
Everyone should try TIP #5!!!