Cheating on a Gluten Free Diet

Q. I find myself cheating on the gluten free diet. I have celiac disease and I’ve been on the diet for years. Do you have any advice on how to keep strong?

Cheating on a Gluten-free Diet

A. We all experience the pressures to eat gluten in our society, shortness of time, and desire for convenience. Here’s my advice:

  1. Willpower: When you feel like cheating remember this – If you have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, cheating on a gluten-free diet increases your mortality (death) rate by 600%*. Cheating is defined as consuming some amount of gluten once a month. Therefore, when you take just one bite of that gluten filled pizza, pastry, cake, etc. you’re shortening your own life! And if your reaction to gluten is bad, just think of what you went through the last time! Did you miss work? Miss out on going somewhere? Did other people have to take care of you? Remember…problems, pain and shortened life!
  2. Snacks: Keep gluten-free snacks in your car, house, place of work, purse, etc. You can purchase them, make them yourself, or find ones that are naturally gluten-free. For me, nuts are the easiest snack to carry around and give me a quick energy boost due to the high protein levels.
  3. Alcohol: Don’t over drink! This is when it is easiest to loose your willpower and/or your memory. For those of us who have gluten eaters in our household, we may used to family members placing food out, but warning us that it contains gluten. Others are used to not being around any gluten, at all.  If you are intoxicated, you may just forget and take that bite of birthday cake; or you may just say, “What the heck!” Don’t over consume alcohol, ever!
  4. Medication: Some gluten-free dieters take multiple medications which cause them to not think properly. Speak with your doctor to reevaluating your medications should they be causing drowsiness, foggy thinking, etc. In addition, antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs may cloud our emotions.
  5. Financial: Some claim that eating gluten-free is too costly. There are many ways of eating gluten-free economically. You can make your own food (see recipes tab above); purchase large amounts of gluten-free flour to save money; purchase gluten-free food items in bulk when they on sale; and if all else fails, stick to the basics: meat, eggs, beans, fruit, veggies, potatoes and rice, if tolerable. You can make very tasty dishes by adding seasoning, herbs and things like onion, garlic and ginger. Sticking to the basics avoids processed food which bad for us, anyway!
  6. Children: If you find children are cheating on a gluten-free diet, educate them and get them involved. Have them make telephone calls to manufacturers, with your help, if they are not old enough, asking whether they product is certified, made on gluten-free lines or in a gluten-free facility. Make sure they have a better gluten-free substitute than their friends for that gluten-free birthday cake or movie snacks. Educate them, without scaring them, on how gluten will effect them, now and in the future.
  7. Depression: Often times when we feel deprived of something we tend to give up too easily. Stay strong by making it a fun life-style change! Start a blog and share with others. Join a support group, whether on this site, on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter, or a group in your local area that meets in person. Attend a gluten-free cooking demonstration and learn more. Don’t grab for those antidepressants, but live life to its fullest! Make lemonade out of those lemons you were given! And don’t forget to smile! Forcing a smile is known to bring one happiness. I heard that frolicking about will surely make you laugh. Try it! It works!
  8. Education: Be informed! Check out the helpful lists below.

*Reference: Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum (2009) DVD by Dr. Vikki Petersen

Photo Credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

The information above is not intended to be medical advice, but the opinion of the writer. Never stop taking any prescription medicine without consulting your physician first.

2 Replies to “Cheating on a Gluten Free Diet”

  1. Whenever I feel tempted I just think back to the last time I accidently ingested a gluten product and how dreadful I felt. The temptation just disappears! So, I now never ‘cheat’. But I do find having snacks in my purse or briefcase really helps when I have those moments of ‘I’m not sure if this has gluten in it and I’m starving, so I’ll take a chance.’ It really just isn’t worth it. When I feel sorry for myself, which I sometimes do, I count my blessings instead…the attitude of gratitude turns things around for me.

  2. Facebook Comment:

    Charles wrote: “My comments aren’t directly about will power but are a case study (not a scientifically accurate study, btw). When my wife “Cheated” over several years she whacked her immune system badly enough to end up with the kinds of infections usually only seen in HIV patients. Fortunately they were treatable and returning to the “Straight and Narrow” removed them forever. A diet is hard but life-threatening infections are harder.”

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