I remember my first “label reading” trip. I went home and threw a tantrum in the kitchen while I was alone. I literally spent hours in that grocery store and still didn’t have everything I wanted to buy.
Looking back on the experience, with proverbial 20-20 hindsight, I realize it was a turning point for me. At the time I was throwing my tantrum, I was telling myself it’s going to be too difficult to live gluten free. I told myself I don’t have the patience for all this list making and label reading. I also told myself that I’d just have to eat plain old fruits and vegetables and just skip all this ridiculous gluten free food hunting.
Why am I telling you about my embarrassing private moment? Well, I’m telling you about it, because most newly diagnosed people go through a pivotal moment. This moment is the point where you let some of the pent up emotion out like a volcano blowing, and then get on with the business of learning to live gluten free. Unfortunately, some people also slide into depression at this time, because they see their lives as being too complicated.
If you are one of the people who are disgusted, discouraged or overwhelmed at this time, you need to find someone to talk to that can help you resolve your feelings. So what did I do on my next shopping trip? I decided I would allot myself a certain amount of time that was less than my tantrum trip. During that time I would fill my grocery cart with gluten free foods. That forced me to make a plan.
The first thing I did was shop the perimeter and fill half my cart with fresh foods, meats, fish and poultry. Then I looked at my shopping list which I purposely kept short when it came to canned and processed foods. The key in the beginning is to keep it simple. I bought canned vegetables in water next. Then I went directly to the health food section and looked for foods specifically labeled gluten free. Finally, I chose one aisle where I would read labels. The first trip I chose potato chips and snacks.
By teaching myself to shop for gluten free foods one step at a time, I learned the brands for categories of foods. Each trip after that I added a new aisle section. That way I was only reading a short list of new labels. I knew how to quickly reread the labels looking for ingredient changes on labels I’d studied in prior trips.
I am sharing my experience with you, because I know how emotionally difficult it can be to learn how to shop for gluten free foods. Just take it easy and approach filling your grocery cart one aisle at a time. You shouldn’t spend hours in the grocery store getting more frustrated by the minute like I did.
I guess my words of wisdom to you would be: don’t follow my example!