I very clearly remember the first time I stepped into a supermarket after my coeliac diagnosis. For some reason, the fact I could no longer have gluten meant I was totally lost in a shop I used to be able to navigate my way around with my eyes shut.
Here’s a 7 things I wish someone had told me (number 7 is my fav!) and the common mistakes we all make:
(1) Before you go shopping, write down a list of the meals you used to have
No idea why but after your diagnosis, you think all of your old meals are off limits. However, it’s surprisingly easy to make gluten free versions of pretty much anything.
Start by writing a list of your “usual” meals & find what ingredients you need to adapt them (if they’re not already naturally gluten free anyway).
Not sure how? Just ask me/anyone on Instagram and I’m sure they’d be happy to help!
(2) Don’t head straight to the gluten free aisle
- You end up buying things you’d never have bought before “just because you can have it” …like celebration cakes at all times of the year
- It’s all overpriced
- It’s full of highly processed and other nasties
There’s tons of food in the ‘normal’ aisles that you can eat. For example, did you know that Tesco has gluten free pasta in with the normal bags? Two blog posts with gf finds in the normal aisles: Sainsburys here and Asda here.
(3) Learn to love the fruit & veg section
Used to be the boring bit, right?! But now it’s about to become your best friend…you can have alllll the fresh stuff without looking at the labels! Hurrah!! (One note – be careful of the pre-prepared packaged veg e.g. Morrisons stir fry mix as its a may contain)
(4) All the supermarkets have different bits
For example, “Promise” bread is in Sainsburys, Asda has the best Schar range, etc etc. I think its worth visiting different supermarkets to see what different things they’re offering.
(5) Only check the label twice!
This one sounds strange but bear with me…unless you’re on an extra tight budget, I recommend NOT checking the same label 50 million times whilst in the shop. My paranoia led me to do exactly this for hours on end and shopping became a label reading marathon. Triple check things when you’re at home and if you’ve made a mistake, just give it away and make someones day!
You’ll quickly learn from your mistakes & it’ll stop you from getting bored of food very quickly… we can’t be having that!!
Common mistakes everyone makes are listed in my blog post: “Hidden Gluten: 18 places to triple check”.
(6) Label tips
- EU requires the top 14 allergens (gluten, milk, nuts etc) to be highlighted in on the ingredients list of any food so if it contains gluten, it HAS to say. Manufactures will write in bold the specific type of grain they’ve used that contains gluten – wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt or khorasan wheat.
- Also, they also must state if there’s any chance of cross contamination (usually write “may contain gluten” on the label).
- For more tips either ask or have a look on the Coeliac UK page
(7) THE BEST THING: Embrace the fact you can now see the supermarket with a totally new set of eyes
Before I found out I was coeliac, supermarket shops were a chore and I’d just walk round picking up the same bits time and time again. But now I genuinely love food shopping and finding new bits every time. Shopping is now exciting!!
Hope this helps!! Shout if there’s anything else I can help with