Feeling overwhelmed, then have a look at these few tips which helped my teenager transition to a gluten free diet and helped me through those first few chaotic months.
1. Concentrate on what can be eaten rather than what can’t be eaten
Make a list of all the food and meals that the family currently eats that fall within the ‘can eat’ category. This will help put things in perspective and help you focus on the positives.
2. Make changes slowly
Continue to make all those favourite meals that automatically don’t contain gluten and tackle the lunch box challenge. If your teenager perceives that only one meal a day is being changed, then the upheaval isn’t such a big deal.
3. Tackle gluten free foods as a taste test for the whole family
Prepare a familiar meal that is GF but also prepare an additional side of something new. For example, make your butter chicken and rice that you know will be eaten, but also make a portion of something new eg quinoa or GF flatbreads for sampling. If the extra isn’t a success, then you teenager still has had their main meal.
4. Encourage honest feedback
Listen to your teenager (and other family members). By accepting their decision on new foods, you are giving your teenager a sense of control and helping them through the maze of a GF diet. Develop a classification system for new food: never again, a possibility, a goer. Keep packets/wrappers of the foods that get a tick as a reminder when you next go shopping.
5. Don’t just think Gluten Free
You can fall into the trap of looking only for the word “gluten free”. Don’t just google gluten free chocolate cake recipe. Many recipes are gluten free by default because of the ingredients used.
Try “flourless” or think outside the box and look to ethnic cuisines that do not rely upon wheat products: Jewish – Orange and Almond Cake, French – Macarons, Italian-Risottos, Spanish-Omelettes. The “Food Safari” television series is a great source of new ideas and recipes.
Look to some of your old favourites which you never realised were gluten free: Florentine Slice, Peanut Butter Cookies, Pavlovas. NB Make sure your panty items are GF eg cornflour, cornflakes, chocolate.
6. Follow the recipe
Gluten free baking mixes can become unstable very quickly. If the recipe states, mix for 2 minutes, only mix for 2 minutes. If the recipe suggests that you weigh the 380ml of water, than do so.
7. Take the Coeliac Society Supermarket Tour (Available in Queensland)
Use the knowledge of other Coeliacs to guide you through the supermarket.
8. Be prepared to shop at more than one supermarket
Not all GF product lines can be found in your local supermarket. Coles has their Simply Gluten Free range, Woolworths has their Macro range and scattered through the independents and health food stores you can find other GF products. And if you live in regional Australia, then you might find it easier to buy on-line.
9. Check websites for recipes
Once you have settled on a gluten free flour or a bread mix, then look up the company website for other GF recipes using their products. Packet cake mixes usually have more than one recipe available for the mix.
10. Preparation is essential
Try to think ahead and plan your meals. Cook extra rice or rice vermicelli and freeze. Pancake batter can be frozen. Roasts and satay chicken can be used for tomorrow’s lunch of wraps or sushi. Make a double batch of taco mince and freeze the second batch.
11. Be selective
You’ve found a great recipe, but you need to buy 3 extra gluten free ingredients.
When you first begin baking gluten free, try to be selective with your recipe choice and look for simple recipes with commonly stocked ingredients.
You can fall into the trap of having a pantry full of all the different types of single origin gluten free flours eg potato flour, chick pea flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour, and then find that you never use them again.