I firmly believe that living a gluten free life is a journey, not a destination. And during your journey, your gluten free food lifestyle will move through 3 distinct stages. Not everyone will go through these stages exactly the same or even in the same order, but I believe you will find quite a bit of truth in them.
The “Replacement” Stage
What? I cannot eat gluten anymore? But what about bread, and cupcakes and, OMG PIZZA? This phase usually involves replacing all the gluten things you were enjoying with their gluten free counterparts. This happens for a couple reasons. One, you really love pizza or bread or whatever your favorite gluten containing food is and you don’t want to be without it. Totally understandable! Two, you feel that if you can replace all that you have lost, then everything will be okay. (Everything will be okay whether you replace gluten or not but at this stage, you are not in any shape to even consider that).
The Replacement Phase can last months or even years; everyone is different. Generally at this stage, you don’t have a ton of gluten free cooking knowledge so you seek out all the GF products you can find. Luckily, there are SO MANY MORE of those products today than there were 7 years ago when I went gluten free.
The “There’s Gotta Be More” Stage
After living the gluten free lifestyle for a while, you realize that there is more to eating that gluten free replacement products. Maybe you still don’t feel as good as you want to? Maybe you want to eat a more varied diet? Maybe you have spend your entire life’s savings on $6 loaves of bread and $15 frozen pizzas? Whatever the reason, you are ready to move on and add additional foods to you diet. This is where you seek out gluten free recipes online, buy cook books and start introducing yourself to more vegetables, meats and other naturally gluten free foods.
The “I am Breaking Up With Processed Food” Stage
At some point, and this may come years after living gluten free, you realize that you are tired of reading labels, eating processed food, ingesting pesticides and GMO’s and want to start eating as safely and nutritiously as you can while at the same time enjoying delicious food. This is where you start making your own sauces and just about everything else you eat. You are in total control of what you eat and you feel better both physically and mentally because of it.