After a diagnosis of Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, it can be hard to live in a world filled with gluten and not eat it. But after starting a gluten free diet for medical reasons, it is essential to stick with it for your health. But how can you combat those cravings, which can get intense?
You can deal with cravings for gluten by satisfying the underlying need for certain nutrients. Eat the food you are craving, but find a suitable gluten free alternative or find the nutrient your body is missing. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with gluten free food and supportive people.
Cravings are a natural part of transitioning to a gluten free diet and can happen even after being gluten free years. Fill your toolshed with ways to combat these cravings when they happen.
Gluten Free Tips To Stop Eating What You Crave
When craving a particular food, there is usually something about it, particularly that food you need to satisfy. Identify what that is, and you can resolve the issue.
Figure out what that craving means. Do you crave salt? Maybe it is a sugar craving, or you are low on iron. Eat something that will help solve this issue. Figuring this out will help you to nourish your body without eating gluten.
If satisfying a need your body has does not work and you still have this craving, give in. But do it in a way that is safe for your health. There are so many gluten free recipes out there, boxed mixes in stores, and prepared food to order online or at a local store.
Remind yourself why you are not eating gluten. Look up some information on the subject of your condition; if it is for an autoimmune disease, look at what would happen in the long run. Especially if you have Celiac Disease, it is vital that you not eat gluten.
No matter the reasons for eating gluten free, write them down. If it is helpful, put these in places you usually see in your bathroom, next to your monitor, or use them as a bookmark.
Use these reasons to decide what you should do when you have this craving. Write down some strategies that will help you and maybe even keep around some (gluten free) treats you crave that will help satisfy these cravings.
Make sure that your support system is on board with you. Let your chosen support person know how important it is to maintain a gluten free diet and the strategies you have to employ when you get these cravings. When you are feeling especially like giving in, contact them. They can also help by keeping you accountable.
Surround yourself with gluten free food. If possible, have your entire house gluten free. If you are saying no to something all day, you are bound to give in every day.
Consider What You Crave And Why
Cravings are no joke, and they are not simple to overcome.
Figuring out what you are craving and why you are craving it can be a huge step. Identifying it and calling it out can sometimes be enough to kick it.
Once you identify what you are craving, try to decide why you are craving it. What does this craving have in it that might be beneficial? Carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, salt, or others can be things that your body is communicating a need for through a specific craving.
For example, if you are craving peanut butter, your body may be saying you need salt and protein. Satisfying those needs may solve the craving.
But sometimes, you crave food just because it sounds yummy, and that is its issue. And not something that logic or proper nutrition can solve.
If you start your gluten free diet, you may begin cravings because you haven’t had a chance to heal yet and aren’t absorbing the nutrients you need.
Whatever it is that you are craving, find the reason behind it to work on solving that need.
Drink Water Before Giving Into A Craving
Sometimes a craving is not about what your body needs but more about desiring something. Drinking water before giving in to cravings can sometimes help resolve the craving.
Drinking water can also help because it will delay getting the item that your body craves, and sometimes that delay can help allow that craving to pass.
Drinking water is good as most of us could use more fluids daily, but if your doctor has advised otherwise, always follow their advice.
Drinking water can help satisfy that craving where you can’t pinpoint what you want, but it can also help meet the craving for something specific that is not healthy.
Listen To Your Body And Satisfy The Need For The Craving
Once you pinpoint the craving and the need that it represents, satisfy it if possible. Drink your water, delay the satisfaction and if it persists, find the root cause.
If your body is low on a particular nutrient or thinks that is the reason for the craving, solve the problem by nourishing your body.
If what you want is gluten and salty, eat something gluten free and salty. Cheese and nuts are excellent choices for this. But if you wish to junk food, gluten free potato chips work too!
Protein is a common craving that gets thrown in with other cravings like sugar. Try snacking on something with protein, whether it is sweet or savory. Try adding blueberries to cottage cheese for a sweet craving or gluten free beef jerky for a savory and salty craving.
Especially for women, iron can be an issue. Celiac Disease reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, including iron. So make sure you have regular vitamin panels done with your doctor to find what you need to supplement.
For some ideas, see this article from Healthline for what to eat when you are having cravings.
Give Into Your Craving – But Gluten Free
Sometimes our cravings have no point. They are more about a desire than a lack of nutrients. When we restrict calories in a diet, we crave foods with higher calories than we typically eat. Source
To maintain a gluten free diet, the only thing you need to focus on is the lack of gluten in your diet. It is better to bend on other diet promises you made to yourself, such as low calorie or low carb, than to eat gluten.
So find a recipe for what you are craving and have fun!
I created a flour blend that doesn’t need any special gums added to it. I have found this works wonders as a replacement for all-purpose wheat flour. If you are craving baked goods you can’t find in stores, try it out in your favorite recipe!
Check to see if a local bakery or store specializes in gluten free. Make sure it uses a separate space from any gluten products and is not made side by side with gluten. Wheat flour gets in the air and will get into and on everything around it. It can even stay in the air for up to days!
Most grocery stores now have gluten free sections or at least include some selection of gluten free products. Check out the baking mixes and frozen section. There are usually muffins, cupcakes, and cakes there!
So many times, the things we are craving are not as easy to get as going to the grocery store. So it might take a bit of work to make it happen. Especially the cravings that are not bakery goods and sweet.
Americanized Chinese food can be easily remade at home, keeping it gluten free. Chicken wings are so easy to do with no extra ingredients! And so many more options. You don’t need to eat gluten to get the flavors or texture you are craving.
Here are a few recipes to try if you are looking for something to make:
Bacon and Blue Cheese Burger with Berry Sauce (the #1 seller from my food cart)
Watermelon Salad (sweet, salty, and refreshing!)
Check out the recipes page for even more!
Write Down The Reasons You Shouldn’t Eat Gluten
If you don’t want to make your craving gluten free and still deal with an intense desire to eat gluten, try writing it down. Write it down on the top of a piece of paper and then write down all the reasons you shouldn’t eat it.
- Write down the name of what you want to eat.
- Below that, write down why you want it.
- Now, write what you will feel like if you eat it.
- Lastly, write down how long each thing will last.
See the graphic below for example
If you need more motivation, write down the long-term effects of the condition that forces you to be gluten free. If you are Celiac, this might be an “increased risk of cancer.”
Look at these options here and why you want this food. You already know that you will enjoy it while you eat. But what are the consequences of doing this?
If the consequences are not that bad, you wouldn’t have to work so hard to be gluten free. If you had no short- or long-term effects, why wouldn’t you eat gluten? So I’m assuming that you have consequences. Even Silent Celiac patients have consequences. If this is you, make sure to write down all the long-term effects.
The above strategy won’t work every, time and you may end up eating it anyway because these things happen. But thinking through your actions and making that decision will help you in the future. I know too many people that have regretted a few seconds or minutes of enjoyment for weeks of pain and struggle.
Decide What You Will Do Ahead Of Time
Better than dissuading yourself when the craving hits is coming up with a plan to follow beforehand.
If you are reading this and haven’t had cravings for gluten products, you inevitably will at some point. It is better to prepare ahead of time rather than regretting afterward.
It is easy enough to say that you won’t give in and have the food. Or tell yourself that isn’t an option. But what about when you are craving that food, it is right in front of you, or someone is offering it. Food cravings are some of the most intense feelings that someone can have.
One idea for planning is to make sure you have gluten free food with you at all times. Keep a gluten free granola bar in your glovebox. Know where there is a drive-thru or quick access food you can grab. Even better is picking something up at the grocery store.
Whatever your solutions, make the plan. These suggestions are things that have worked for me, but everyone may have different ideas.
Before going to an event, make a food plan. That should usually be eating ahead of time or bringing your food. But sometimes, that isn’t an option.
Whatever your solutions, set up a plan and decide what you will do ahead of time when the cravings hit or the opportunity hands itself to you.
Set Up Your Support System
There is only so much self-control one person can have. Especially in times of stress, when we use our energy on other things, it may be more tempting or feel easier not to fight it. But the risks and damage you could heap on yourself are never worth it.
Find a friend, family member, or even a group of people you can trust and know how important your diet is gluten free. If you don’t have anyone like this, find someone you trust and tell them all the reasons you need to be gluten free.
Come up with a plan for when you feel incredibly close to giving in. Come up with something your support person can say to you. Maybe a particular symptom that gets you or even a code word. Be accountable to this person. Have them ask you afterward if you did this.
Use this as a last line of defense when you cannot deal with the decisions any longer.
It doesn’t matter what the person thinks of you in the end; it is about your health. But sometimes, another person knowing that we are thinking about making this decision is enough to dissuade you. And even thinking about telling them can be what you need to make the right decision for you.
Live In A Gluten Free World
Another option that takes more planning, work, and time is to create a gluten free bubble life around yourself. Don’t give yourself the opportunity or temptation.
Make your home entirely gluten free. Doing so is usually better for you in any case to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. This option may or may not be possible as it usually depends on your living situation and the cooperation of those around you.
Make your desk at work gluten free. Keep gluten free snacks in there. Don’t participate in communal eating experiences like going out to restaurants or ordering food with the rest of the family or office.
Making your gluten bubble is not the easy way to go, and there are plenty of reasons that this is difficult or can’t work, but making this happen to some extent can reduce temptation and the opportunity to eat gluten. If you don’t need to say no as often, fewer opportunities will be to make that decision.