Another new year, another diet resolution…

Almost everyone has, at one point, tried to stick to a New Year’s diet. And almost everyone has failed. Why is it so difficult to keep our New Year’s diet resolutions? If you have celiac disease and have been taking advantage of your last few days of wheat-eating freedom before the New Year–when you’ve decided you’re going to start your wheat-free diet–yours is a diet resolution that, if broken, could be very damaging. Here’s a tip for sticking to a gluten-free diet.

Be reasonable! One of the reasons people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions is because they are too ambitious. If you start out with ten different resolutions, it might be too overwhelming for you to try to change that many aspects of your life. Focus your energy on one instead, and stick to it. If you cheat, don’t give up on your entire resolution. Scold yourself, then accept that you cheated, and continue pursuing your resolution.

So if you have celiac disease and you accidentally eat soy sauce one day at lunch, don’t cave and have a meatball hero for dinner because you “already ate wheat products today anyway.” Make a note to buy some tamari sauce instead of soy sauce and stay away from wheat for the rest of the day. Just because you ate soy sauce doesn’t mean you’ve failed, or that eating gluten-free is an impossible task.

When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I didn’t know what to eat. I didn’t want to eat frozen gluten-free foods all the time, because a lot of them contain more sodium than I should eat in one meal. But before I made myself a meal plan, I had to eat some frozen foods so that I didn’t starve myself while trying to eliminate wheat. I had to transition slowly. While I traded cabinets full of pasta for quinoa, I stocked up on frozen foods. They got me through the week while I went shopping for beans, rice, and veggies. So although my ultimate goal was to use celiac disease as a catalyst for healthy eating, I had to start off slowly eliminating the foods that I couldn’t–or didn’t want to–eat.

If I had started off not eating those frozen foods AND not eating gluten-free foods, I would have had empty pantries, no meal plan, a growling stomach, and would have ultimately given up and written off gluten-free eating as a starvation diet.

So my advice for starting a gluten-free diet after New Years is to not be too ambitious. Give yourself time to adjust, set a reasonable goal for yourself–one that you can actually keep–and give your body a chance to have a healthy new year.

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– Kaitlin Puccio