Whether you're new to being gluten-free or you've been avoiding gluten for years, I'm sure there are times when you feel unsure whether something is safe to eat. I do it too.
There are some things I've been doing for a while to make being gluten-free easier though, and it's really helped. I haven't been glutened for months! I'm guessing I've just jinxed myself now though. ;)
Anyway, here are my top tips:
1. Call ahead when eating out (or check the menus online)
As someone who's ended up eating a jacket potato on far too many occasions while everyone around me enjoyed what looked like delicious meals, it's worth calling the restaurant before you go. Most places have their menus available online now too, so by taking just a few minutes to check online or to make a quick call, you'll be able to know what to expect and (hopefully) feel more at ease about where you're going for a meal.
If it turns out that the phone call doesn't go well and you fear for your stomach's safety, then at least you've got time to either select a different restaurant or (if someone else made the plans) you have time to prepare some snacks or toppings to accompany your (standard gluten-free option of a) jacket potato.
2. Allow plenty of time to do your food shopping (or shop online)
Food shopping can take a lot longer than it used to when you're carefully reading all of the labels, particularly when you first go gluten-free or if you're searching for foods you don't regularly buy. That's why it's a good idea to allow yourself plenty of time to do your food shopping.
If you hate the idea of reading all of the food labels in front of other people shopping (like I did at first, before I realised it's not a big deal), try online shopping as you can take your time to read every ingredient.
3. Download the Coeliac UK app
This app is amazing! It's free and really easy to use...and if you're not already a member then I highly recommend joining Coeliac UK. The app allows you to scan the barcode on food/drink and it pops up with whether it's gluten-free. So cool and it saves loads of time reading a list of ingredients on the occasions when you are in a rush!
4. Take your own food to meetings/parties
This tip has saved me from spending the day without food on numerous occasions. I've been to various events where the only gluten-free option is basically a slightly snazzier version of a side salad and while I don't mind salad, it's not exactly going to fill me up while everyone around me scoffs cake. Just to clarify, these are work style events from the past - my family and friends aren't making me starve at parties. ;)
Take a tupperware box containing a pre-prepared mini meal or maybe bite size snacks you can easily munch on. It will save you from getting caught out and desperately making a dash for the nearest shop.
5. Find plenty of snacks you like (and keep some in your bag/car/desk at work)
These could be homemade or shop bought - whatever you prefer. I rarely leave the house without some sort of snack on me because I've learnt over the years that plenty of places serve gluten-free meals, but not many shops sell gluten-free snacks. I find this weird because there are loads of awesome gluten-free snacks out there (Bounce balls, Nakd bars, 9Bars - loads of great things), but they're often not sold in a little corner shop, so I always take something with me.
6. Be open to experimenting with food
I'm naturally very fussy with food, always have been. But surprisingly, since going gluten-free I've been basically forced to try new foods (mostly because the options available were things I had never tried before) and I've found so many foods I now love! Being gluten-free and a fussy eater is a difficult combination - I know, I've been there. So try to open your mind to trying new foods.
Although this post is about how to make being gluten-free easier, it's actually pretty easy once you get used to it. Honest.
If you're new to being gluten-free, check out my post about the 10 things you need to do when you go gluten-free and feel free to ask any questions. I'm happy to help! It's easiest to get hold of me on my Facebook page.
Writing this has made me realise how prepared I am at all times...and how much I love food. I reckon my handbag full of snacks could rival Sheldon Cooper's emergency kit! ;)
What are your top tips for making being gluten-free easier?