How to Overcome Emotional Obstacles to Going Gluten-Free

What if you have to go gluten-free? What if you just got a devastating diagnosis or have discovered that you function better without gluten and now you can’t imagine how you’re going to survive without pizza, sandwiches, and cookies?

It may be difficult to believe, but you can have a great social life with wonderful food that happens to contain no gluten. You can have fun family holidays, you can eat out at restaurants and friends’ homes, and you can even have pizza and cookies. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t eat gluten. It’s the beginning of a wonderful future, knowing you’ll feel better than ever.

Type “stages of grief” — yes grief — into a search engine to find some ways for coping with the emotional fallout of your situation and necessary changes. Grieving over the loss of life as you’ve known it is okay, and it’s a process.

Handle shock and denial and going gluten-free

It’s normal to feel shocked when you receive a diagnosis and suddenly face big changes in your life. You may even grapple with denial. Especially if you feel great after a while, you may start to doubt your diagnosis or the need to remain gluten-free.

Or perhaps someone else in your life is the one in denial. She may not believe that you really need to cut gluten out of your life; she may even accuse you of being unnecessarily high maintenance. Sadly, you can’t change other people.

If someone important to you is unable to support you during this time of change, maybe she’s just uneducated, not unfeeling. Give her some to time to adjust to the idea of your drastic life change and how it may affect her.

Even if you have super supportive people around you, you can make your transition to gluten-free a little more pleasant by following this advice:

  • Don’t share all the reasons you’ve found that gluten is harmful. You’ll be an expert in no time and may be tempted to tell people everything you know, especially if you have a friend or relative you know would benefit from a gluten-free diet. Just let it go! Make your own decisions and let others make theirs without judgment.

  • Remember that it’s not all about you. Don’t monopolize dinner conversations to talk about your health. If events, meals, and outings aren’t focused on you and your health issues, you may just find that those unpleasant confrontations with insensitive people begin to fade away.

  • Don’t expect people to cater to you. With a condition like celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, people don’t always believe that you must be strict with your food intake. Be prepared to feed yourself for a little while. The people who really care about you will eventually see your resolve and catch on.

Accept your situation and embrace gluten-free living

Acceptance doesn’t mean you have to love your situation but that you reach a point of seeing the good in it. After you figure out what to order at your favorite restaurants, what to eat at parties, and what to cook for yourself that tastes great and keeps you healthy, your new gluten-free life is likely to feel better than anything that came before.

You may be tempted to turn down social invitations and not eat much of anything at first. Try to resist that urge and keep putting yourself out there. Remember that you’re on the road to good health, so you’re better off without gluten. Besides, exploring new cuisines and ingredients while becoming a great cook can be pretty fun!

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