10 Pitfalls to Avoid when You Have a Wheat Sensitivity
Stepping outside of your normal eating routine can pose challenges to your wheat-free diet. Any one or group of sabotaging factors can affect your wheat-free lifestyle, but by developing a plan specific to each obstacle you’ll face, you increase your chances of success exponentially. Over time, these specific plans become established routines that create long-term stability and healthy dietary habits.
The pitfalls here are common to most people eating a wheat-free diet. Developing your own set of techniques to better manage the challenges you encounter may have a greater success rate than simply accepting our advice to the letter. Do what works for you.
After you’ve committed to a wheat-free lifestyle and had success for a while, nothing can sabotage your way of life. You’ve formed new habits, and you don’t even think twice about the difficulties of the following ten derailments. Life becomes life, and yours is wheat-free.
Poor planning for your wheat-free diet
If you don’t have a plan and stick to it, you’re setting yourself up for massive failure. Ignoring potential obstacles ill prepares you for the inevitable: You get stuck somewhere without a wheat-free option. Approaching your diet with a sense of commitment, accountability, and realism is what determines your success.
Within your plan, allow for obstacles to arise that challenge your determination. Developing strategies in response to each obstacle is the key ingredient of your plan. Answer the following questions; you can find guidance on each of these issues throughout this book:
Where will you shop for your wheat-free food?
What wheat-free recipes do you favor?
Which restaurants will accommodate your wheat-free lifestyle?
How will you address traveling wheat-free?
How will you approach holidays and family celebrations? (Check out “Parties, Holidays, and Family Celebrations” later in this chapter for help on this question in particular.)
How will you deal with eating at a friend’s house?
Limited understanding of wheat’s harmful effects
One sure way of sabotaging your wheat-free diet is to not fully recognize the harmful effects of wheat. If you don’t approach the wheat-free lifestyle with a sound understanding of what wheat does to your body, you’re more likely to quit and go back to your old ways or to some diet fad that comes your way.
The more you know about wheat, the better. By staying up to date on the latest scientific information on wheat’s consequences, the process of eliminating wheat long-term and making a lasting change becomes more and more realistic.
Stress sabotaging your diet
Cortisol, a hormone that increases during stressful times, has a way of enticing you to reach for that doughnut or croissant for comfort. But these calming feelings are only temporary. Learning to deal with your stress in other ways is essential to overcoming the urge to stress-eat foods laden with wheat.
Useful stress management techniques to help keep cortisol levels at bay include exercising, using breathing techniques, practicing mindfulness, meditating, and expressing gratitude.
The good news is that if you’ve eliminated wheat from your diet, you’re less likely to indulge in unhealthy wheat-filled foods when the urge to feed your feelings hits. You’re more prepared to make healthy choices in handling your stress.
Failure to completely eliminate wheat from your diet
Cutting only some of the wheat from your diet is like dipping only your toe into the swimming pool; you don’t get the full experience you would if you jumped in headlong. In the wheat-free scenario, that means you don’t see the full benefits or reduction in symptoms.
The most difficult challenge is that of overcoming your cravings. If you continue to eat wheat, you’ll never kick the wheat craving.
The best solution is going cold turkey and eliminating all wheat from your diet. After your body adjusts to this change, it will thank you by losing weight, decreasing gastrointestinal distress, and reducing inflammation.
Lack of self-control with your diet
A lack of self-control where food is concerned leads most people to compulsively grab whatever food is at hand. Living for the moment only leads to greater frustration and less confidence that you can make a permanent dietary change.
Lack of self-control is usually a result of other sabotaging factors at play. Having a wheat-free plan in place, cultivating a wheat-free environment, understanding wheat’s harmful effects, and reducing your stress strengthens your self-control.
Unrealistic expectations for your diet
Nothing kills motivation like unrealistic expectations. When your expectations aren’t met, you lose confidence in your ability to change your diet and in the wheat-free message itself. Understand that everybody progresses at an individual rate.
Even though you may not be seeing the changes you want on the scale, know that your gut health, inflammation, and blood sugar are all improving. Living wheat-free isn’t just about weight loss, anyway.
To avoid the trap of unrealistic expectations, know your limits. Set tailored goals for yourself that clearly define your wheat-free lifestyle.
Environment causing you failure in your diet
Triggers in your environment can cause even the strongest person to fail. Eliminating as many of these influences as possible not only increases your chances for success but also reduces the amount of temptation you experience.
Consider these questions to determine whether you need to change your surroundings to create a successful atmosphere:
Do the restaurants you go to accommodate your wheat-free lifestyle?
Is your kitchen stocked for wheat-free success?
Is the route you take to work or school free from wheat-filled restaurants that tempt you?
Do you spend most of your time with people who fully support your wheat-free lifestyle?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, think about whether your environment is really conducive to your wheat-free lifestyle.
Parties, holidays, and family celebrations
When was the last time you went to a party, celebrated a holiday, or went to a family festivity that didn’t have boatloads of wheat-filled foods available for consumption? The answer is probably never. Several tips to help you manage such events include
Eating before or after the gathering
Offering to host the gathering or bring your own wheat-free dishes
Consciously thinking about what’s most important to you (your wheat-free diet)
Avoiding stressful situations and contentious relationships that may send you reaching for wheat-filled comfort foods
A spouse who isn’t on the same page
Whether your spouse is out to actively sabotage your wheat-free efforts or is just not willing to make the same dietary commitment you are, having a honey who doesn’t support your lifestyle can be a great challenge.
If your spouse is out to see you fail, you need to find out why and whether you can do anything to improve the situation. Or perhaps your spouse just lacks the self-confidence to change his or her diet or doesn’t understand how harmful wheat is.
Many folks think only overweight or out-of-shape people need a diet to ward off health conditions. Helping your spouse understand wheat’s contribution to diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s may go a long way in converting him or her.
Do what you can to educate your spouse about your new lifestyle and help boost his or her self-confidence, but understand that your spouse may not be ready to make a change in this area right now. If that’s the case, respect that choice while reiterating your need to be wheat-free.
Excessive alcohol consumption can affect your wheat-free diet in several ways:
Drinking alcohol has been shown to increase appetite.
Imbibing in excess influences your decision-making process, which may lead you to make poor food choices.
The consumption of alcohol often goes hand in hand with wheat-filled snacks, which wreak havoc on your wheat-free diet.
Keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum is the best approach. A 4-ounce glass of wine, 1½ ounces of hard liquor, or one 12-ounce gluten- or wheat-free beer is the maximum most people can handle without increasing their appetites.
Mixed drinks are loaded with insulin-raising sugar, so you should always avoid them.